Me and a friend I haven’t seen for a long time meet at a café close to Slussen. Both of us order a large cup of coffee and sit in a corner. I pick up my phone, take a picture of our cups, add the text “reunion” and upload the picture to my Snapchat’s story.
I barely reflect on my behavior. My friend takes a picture and posts it on her Instagram. I lock my phone and put it in my bag. She leaves hers on the table.
We talk about everything between heaven and earth: How her last trip abroad went, how I’m doing at work. The phone on the table lights up every time someone likes her picture. After a while, she unlocks it and checks how many like the photo got. The conversation that was going so well becomes unfocused.
During our hour and a half long coffee break, I don’t know how many times she looks at her phone. I have picked mine up five times. In the café half the people are sitting with their phones in their hands. It makes me think about my own mobile usage. How many hours a day do I spend with my phone in my hand?
Since we got smartphones, more and more people feel pressured to be available at all times. The first thing you do in the morning is check your texts, emails and social media. What if you missed something?
I like to think I’m not dependent on my phone. I download an app called Momemt that measures my mobile usage to get an overview. In recent days, I have been actively using my phone between one and a half and two hours per day. I pick up my phone around 40-50 times a day. The exception was Friday, when I checked my phone for over six hours. My train was three hours late, so I watched Netflix.
A few days ago I listened to an episode of Kropp och själ in P1 called “The war for our attention”. It was about mobile phone use and addiction. According to Anders Hansen, a senior consultant in psychiatry, we touch our cell phones on average 2600 times a day and pick them up on average every 10 minutes.
By keeping your phone close at hand at all times, you can easily become addicted. Getting a lot of likes on Instagram or Facebook may provide a temporary kick, but is it worth the consequences?
“If our attention is interrupted every 3-5 minutes, we end up not being able to concentrate for longer periods. How can we focus on a teacher during a lecture? How can we visualize what is happening in a book? If we can’t go into things in depth?”asks Larry Rosen Professor of Psychology in STV’s Correspondents.
“Too much stimulation and too little focus makes it difficult to sleep at night. That’s why we need to take this problem seriously.”
In the United States, there are retreats where you can go for detoxification. In China, computer addiction is seen as a disease and young people are sent for treatment. Among my own friends, I know several people who spend too much time in front of computer games and their phones. One thing they all have in common is that after a few minutes they lose concentration on whatever they are doing and check social media. For example, sitting in a café with someone who is looking at their phone more than the person opposite is not socializing.
I want to be able to lose track of time in a good book, do new things without feeling like I have to show it to all my followers on Instagram, meet people and get to know them in depth, in real life. Offline.