Meet Mark

Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...

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October 10 2013

The Physiological Consequences of Being Hyperconnected

By Mark Sisson
91 Comments

Put down the smart phone. You can do it.When most people, myself included, discuss the negative effects of staying glued to our smartphones, computers, tablets, and social networking sites at all times, they often focus on everything we miss out on: meaningful interpersonal interactions, quality time spent with our significant others, a beautiful sunset/rise, good booksquality sleep, a great hike, the felt presence of immediate experience, that car barreling down the street toward us as we head into the crosswalk focused on who liked our Facebook post. And those are all important reasons to limit your screen time, but recent research is revealing a series of physiological, physical, and psychological ramifications to being hyperconnected all the time.

According to a recent survey of people in 65 countries, 73.4% of people own a smartphone. Those with smartphones check them an average of 110 times per day, which amounts to every five or six minutes spread out over a twelve hour period. Another study found a slightly higher frequency – 150 times per day. That’s a lot of people with instant, constant access to email, social networking, and text messaging. Not all of them will suffer all or most of these negative effects, but the draw of checking  your phone “just one more time real quick” is obviously difficult to resist. Heck, most people don’t even try to resist it, because staying connected and apprised of everything everywhere can only be a good thing, right?

Let’s take a look at some of the possible consequences:

Text Neck

I first heard about this from Kelly Starrett. When most people text or use a smartphone, they jut their heads forward and bend their necks. It seems harmless and natural, but it places a huge amount of stress on your vertebrae (human heads are really, really big and heavy!) that compounds over time.

Gameboy Back

Pardon the incredibly dated reference to an obsolete gaming device (Gameboys were around, what, fifteen years ago?) and focus on the issue at hand: kids (and adults) who frequently game on smartphones and other handheld devices are placing their thoracic spines in flexion for extended periods of time. It’s similar to text neck, only instead of firing off a quick text, you’re playing a game for minutes or even hours at a time. This can cause the thoracic spine to follow the head and round, perhaps even leading to kyphosis. Growing kids whose skeletal systems are still developing are most vulnerable.

Text Claw

Human hands are incredible. They allow us to manipulate and create thousands of complex tools, tell stories through sign language or the written word, play instruments, lift 500 pounds off the ground, caress loved ones, and cradle a delicate egg or rip a phone book in half. They do a lot of different things, in other words, so when we send texts a hundred times a day and write entire emails using our thumbs, we put our hands through the same contortions over and over again and run the risk of overuse injuries to the tendons in our hands. Unfortunately, text claw isn’t the useful, fearsome bird-of-prey kind of claw. It’s the kind of claw that curtails our everyday abilities and causes immense physical pain. Text claw. Weird, I know. But apparently some people are suffering from it.

Sleep Texting

No, not drunk dialing; sleep texting. It’s a real thing. People are rousing themselves, still half-asleep, in the middle of the night to answer incoming text messages with garbled responses that they don’t remember sending upon waking. In and of itself, sleep texting is bad because it’s disrupting our sleep (even if we don’t remember waking up, we’re still waking up and we can’t just resume where we left off in the sleep cycle). It also suggests a deep and disturbing attachment to our phones.

Phantom Phone Vibration

This is the sensation of feeling your phone vibrating in your pocket even though it is not. Dangerous? No, but it’s a bit alarming to have your mind playing tricks on you like that, isn’t it? One researcher even thinks these phantom vibrations might be “increasing the flow of neurotransmitters such as norepinephrine, dopamine, epinephrine and cortoctropin-releasing hormone and decreasing the flow of serotonin, and gamma-aminobutyric acid.” To me, it sounds like the phantom limb phenomenon, only more sinister: in our minds, our smartphones have become as appendages.

Internet Addiction

Once derided by researchers, Internet Addiction Disorder is now mentioned in the latest edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) and the subject of reams of new research. Plus, even if “Internet Addiction” never receives official validation, people are displaying the classic symptoms of addiction, receiving Facebook “Likes” gives a hit of dopamine to your reward system, and people with IAD show similar neurobiological abnormalities with other established addictive disorders. Teens with IAD, for example, have elevated sympathetic nervous system activation with lower heart rate variability. The first IAD inpatient program has even popped up at a Pennsylvania hospital (it won’t be the last, I’d wager).

Depression

On the surface, one would think that checking our Facebook, sending texts, reading emails, and sharing Instagram photos should us feel like we’re establishing and maintaining meaningful connections with other humans, but the reality is that these pursuits taken to an extreme only make us feel more isolated from and less connected with real people. In fact, the more frequently you use social media or check your phone the more likely you are to report feeling sad, depressed, and lonely. A recent study in young adults showed that Facebook use predicts declines in subjective well-being, while “direct” contact with people does not. Some clinicians even have a name for it: Facebook depression.

On top of all those physical and psychological consequences, we’re also missing out on the other stuff I mentioned at the start – the conversations, the smiles, the laughs, the everyday bits and pieces of life occurring right in front of our perpetually averted eyes.

All that said, I’m no Luddite. I own a smartphone which I use daily, have a computer and a Facebook account because these are immensely powerful, useful tools that if harnessed correctly can improve the quality of our lives and our work. Plus, we don’t have to suffer from these maladies. Just knowing that they’re a possibility helps us avoid or mitigate them:

Text neck or Gameboy back? Bring the device closer to eye level, close enough that you can see what you’re doing without moving your head, neck, or flexing your thoracic spine.

Text claw? Don’t use a single thumb for everything. Use your index finger to type on your phone.

Sleep texting? If you’re not already doing it, I wouldn’t worry too much. If you are, stick your phone in another room, well out of arm’s reach, at night. And when you do wake up in the middle of the night, try not to make the conscious, waking decision to check your phone. It can wait. Really.

Internet-enabled or -enhanced depression and Internet addiction are bigger, gnarlier issues without easy answers. It’s not as simple as “just stopping” or “cutting back,” just as it’s not realistic to tell most alcoholics to “just quit drinking” or “switch to beer.” I’ve outlined some helpful strategies for reducing your time spent connected before, but I’ve also got a few additional tips:

Delete the Facebook app (or any app you need a break from) from your phone. You can always re-download the thing when you really have (want) to log on, but that’s a high enough hurdle to keep you from constantly, mindlessly checking it.

Call, don’t text. Instead of sending twenty consecutive text messages, consider placing a call and hearing another person’s actual voice.

Use on a schedule. Check your phone/email/Facebook/etc every, say, hour instead of as often as your compulsivity compels you.

Set boundaries. Only use Twitter for ten minutes a day, Facebook for five, Instagram for two, and so on.

Seek purpose. This is the biggie, folks. The main reason we get so caught up in screen time. Why do we cruise Facebook late at night looking at what everyone else is (supposedly) doing? Why do we whip out our phones at the slightest hint of a lull in activity? Because something is missing, and we know it. We don’t always know what’s missing. We just know – often subconsciously – that something isn’t right and we aren’t comfortable with our situation. It could be that girl we haven’t called yet, that story we’ve been putting off writing, that bill we need to pay, that friend we need to call and catch up with, that dog we need to walk, that CV we need to update, that paper we need to start, that barbell we need to lift, that spouse we need to wine and dine like old times. It might be something entirely mundane, idealistic or unknown. Seek a purpose, higher, lower, humdrum, whatever. Be the person with stuff to post (but refrain from posting about it!).

Well, I hope I both alarmed and inspired you. This hyperconnectedness issue is serious business. These technologies aren’t going anywhere so we need to develop better relationships with them. Let’s hope that, together, we can do it.

(Please note that the recommendations to limit screen time do not apply to your consumption of Mark’s Daily Apple and Primal Blueprint-related electronic media. Compulsive, frequent, feverish checking-in is encouraged.)

What about you guys? How do you handle smartphone, Internet, and social networking usage in your lives?

Thanks for reading and Grok on!

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91 thoughts on “The Physiological Consequences of Being Hyperconnected”

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  1. Put down everything else except for this site! Hahaha, love it!

  2. 110 times a day? (Or 150, depending which study you believe?) That sounds absolutely insane, but I’m honestly not sure my habits are so different from the average.

    Thanks for the wake-up call.

      1. Oh. Should I admit that I found I had a voice mail message on my phone today — the 18th — that was left on the 12th? That was the last time I had my phone on. (I’m not a luddite, really I’m NOT! I just don’t use a mobile much. (Well, hardly ever!)

  3. I used to be addicted to the internet, but I’m recovering nicely with the help of an online support group.

    1. If I give your comment a thumbs up does that make me an enabler?!

    2. Nice one!

      BTW – the head weighs about 10 pounds. Pick up a weighted ball (or bag of sugar) weighing 10 pounds and think about what it means for those 10 pounds to be hanging forward and supported by your vertebrae.

  4. I love this topic. I deleted my facebook account over a year ago because I came to these same conclusions. I would rather eat dinner with my wife than take a picture of my plate and wait for “likes” and comments from people with a tertiary (at best) relation to me.

    I consider everything described in this article to be “noise”. Reducing the noise has led to more satisfying personal relationships with the people that matter.

    That high school “friend” that you haven’t spoken to for 20 + years? Chances are there is a reason for that.

    1. Amen, David. or in the words of another reformed Facebooker: “like”

  5. Good post Mark! I think this is really serious stuff and I also think that people with a predisposition to ‘addictive’ type activities really fall into the social networking trap. I have caught myself in it, feeling lonely/depressed and angry at myself even when life is sailing along at an amazing pace with no reason to feel bummed out.
    It’s a little scary what the future holds for kiddos that have had access to Facebook /Twitter/Etc or heard Mom and Dad talking about it since the moment of conception. Hopefully they evolve a shut-off valve that allows them to live in reality once in awhile. In the next million years or so….

  6. As someone who gets a little too much validation from the Internet (and, in consequence, spends way too much time online), I rely heavily on black-listing applications like SelfRestraint for Windows 7 or SelfControl for OSX (I believe Mark mentioned them in a previous article). Open the program, enter in the websites you want to block, select your length of time, run. And once it’s running, you can’t disable it. This is easily the best feature in my opinion; other programs like your operating system’s built-in parental controls can be easily disabled by entering a password, so for those with virtually no willpower like myself, this has proven to be an essential time management tool.

    1. Wow, those seem like great tools! But do they make them for the iphone? I have a feeling if I was really jonesing I’d just pull it up on my phone. 😉

  7. I never really used Facebook much, I don’t use twitter and after going primal I stopped gaming… although I was already very casual at it. Huh. I seem to be deplugging a bit. Although I still use my computer a lot it’s almost entirely for creative writing which might be hard on my body but good for my brain. XD

  8. I have just a Tracfone. It makes calls. It doesn’t surf, e-mail, or tweet. It’s cheap. It has no contracts. If ‘smart’ phone usage continues the way it is going, in 10 years most people will not be able to have a face-to-face conversation. It is really sad that we cannot communicate with each other anymore.

    1. I was just saying the same thing to my neighbor when she asked if I would join the local Civic League. I said that it was a shame that people around here have to join a club and pay dues just to meet their neighbors, when all they had to do was go outside and start TALKING to them!

      My phone also doesn’t tweet, text, surf, walkie-talkie, or anything else besides make & receive calls, and I only have THAT because I may need to dial 911 sometime.

      1. What’s a cellphone? 100 years ago we didn’t even have phones in the house and got along just fine. Now there are those that check their dumbphones 150 times a day. This picture is sick, if you ask me. But I guess nobody is asking me.

    2. I don’t necessarily think that increased smart phone usage causes people to be poor communicators face to face. That is an assumption or ‘conventional wisdom’ but I know tons of smart phone junkies who communicate fine without there phones. To me each form of communication is just different. I think it depends on the persons social skills and background. Although I can certainly see how too much smartphone use is hurting our well being

      1. Dave, I agree that internet/cell phone communication doesn’t seem to affect good social skills among those who already have them.

        I do think it becomes a crutch, though, for those of us who are a bit socially clumsy face-to-face. Sometimes we need a reminder to get out reacquaint ourselves with real, in-person interaction. For me, at least, after a long period without face-to-face socializing my social awkwardness becomes almost sitcom-worthy 😐

  9. And, if you want to see what real panic looks like, ask your child, or your co-worker, or your spouse to turn off their phone for 30 minutes.

  10. I just recently got a new smart phone, and although I do check facebook more than I used to, the biggest change is that my phantom vibrations have dissappeared. My old phone was small and fit in my pocket easily and was always buzzing. My new phone is too big to put in my pocket, especially wilth the life preserver sized phone case I have to protect it (good thing, too, because I’ve already dropped it twice..). It wasn’t until I read Mark’s post that I realized the phantom vibrations were gone!

  11. Closed out my Facebook & LinkIn accounts. Keep my cellphone out in my car. Minimized the number of internet groups I belong to. Set a 20 minute timer when I get on the computer.

    Ahhhhh, peace and quiet. It’s wonderful!

    I think a lot of compulsive internet use is substituting quantity of human contact for quality; eliminating a lot of the shallow interactions certainly allows more time for the important ones.

    1. I totally agree with this! The timer is a great idea. It is amazing how internet and phones can get in the way when I AM having face to face conversations with people- they check their phones while talking or if there is a lull in the conversation they fill that dead space with texting someone else. It is hard to feel like one is being taken seriously when they are having a private conversation on the side. I know that I am guilty of doing this on occasion as well!

  12. Tools are what you do with them. If you see no need for Facebook, that’s fine. But if you HATE Facebook, then you’re doing it wrong. Ditto for Twitter, email, phones, and the internet in general.

    They’re just tools.

    1. Agreed. It’s not that I *can’t* live without these tools, but they are highly useful to me because I live 3,000 miles away from my family and a several of my friends. I make a point to call, obviously, but Facebook and photo streams and instagram make staying in touch easier, and these posts are often starting points for our conversations because, for example, I saw that a friend met her favorite musician so I ask about it when I call, or my dad sees that I did something fun with friends so he asks about it when he calls me.

      There can definitely be overuse of these sites, but I don’t think being more connected than ever via social networks always has to be a bad thing. It can actually be very beneficial. But I get where this article is coming from. Balance is key.

  13. When Alex de Tocqueville surveyed America in the early 1850’s the most outstanding feature of our society he noticed were our clubs. Everyone belonged to several, and through these, were connected to their community and larger civil society. People met in the clubs typically weekly, and with each other additionally during the week. The clubs were effectively interest groups.
    The effect was to create a significant buffer between the State (Gov’t) and the people.
    Today our civil society has died and we make failed attempts to replace it with the internet. The main cause-effect of it’s death is the continual requirement for ‘respect’ in civilian society. This requirement has grown from the requirement for observance of rank and status continually in corporations and all business, then expanding from working hours to all hours of the day and night. There is no escape. People cannot express themselves openly during non-working hours except on the anonymous internet. And they do so explosively from pent-up repression.
    We are becoming a fascist civilian society with a communist/fascist State.

    1. The fact that you’re able to say that is a good indication that this society is nowhere close to fascist.

        1. I grew up in a communist country, believe me, it doesn’t look like this. A touch of paranoia is probably not a bad thing, but if you have the mental space to worry, why not worry about something you have some control over instead of fascist/communist/systems-of-government-you-have-hazy-understanding-of windmills?

  14. How about periodic media fasts. IF-ing all communication devices except those we used 10,000 years ago may be a way to remind ourselves that a million years of evolution occurred without a hashtag, commercials, or a plug.
    Unplug, tune in and drop out… for a day.
    baby steps.

    1. i do this! but i love the IF reference. when the phone gets turned off or left at home for a neighborhood walk, there is a quietness, a peacefulness, that grounds me in the present. i didn’t realize my mind has come to crave the “isolation” as precious little untouchable moments.

      1. I love that too, Aly c, and I think more people might come to really appreciate those quiet moments away if they gave it a try.

        I think a lot of people — especially those in a certain age range who have never known a world WITHOUT internet and cell phones — don’t really know how to be alone with their own thoughts. A lot of people seem to experience genuine distress at the mere thought of being without constant input, even for short periods.

  15. Here are a couple of extra dangers to consider:

    Don’t drive and use a phone. Don’t walk and text. Don’t cook and text. We multitask ourselves into other people’s lanes, through stop signs, into walls, and into many other less lethal mishaps all the time. That breaks Primal Rule 8: Avoid Trauma. For everybody’s sake, pull over to Shazam that song. It isn’t worth rear-ending somebody because you can’t decide if its Tears for Fears or Orchestral Maneuvers in the Dark.

    Also, consider the elevated levels of magnetic/electromagnetic radiation we expose ourselves to on a regular basis with the phone/laptop/tablet in close proximity to our brains and reproductive organs. Keep the little ones off the devices, please! I’m no Luddite either. I have my laptop and my smartphone, but since actually checking them with a meter, I have made some changes in how I handle these devices and how I’ve laid out my workspace to limit my exposure. Moving a calculator just a few inches decreased the magnetic field I work in dramatically.

    Yes, maybe I’ll be one of the lucky ones and never feel the effects. But I’d rather take some precautions and be safer rather than sorrier. After all, that’s what I’m doing with grains.

  16. Some excellent points and we should all take Mark’s warnings / logic to heart. The dark side of technology is very real. I’m a software engineer so I spend an inordinate amount of time creating applications on a computer and I struggle with that balance all the time. The OTHER side of the coin … the ability to collaborate with people and teams in other locations, even with people across the globe, can be a very positive thing. Ultimately, technology might help break down cultural barriers that cause so much contention in this world. The other day I chatted with my niece who lives 1500 miles away, we used FaceTime and I could see her, she took me on a “tour” of her apartment and showed me her pet cat, it was wonderful and an example of how technology can be positive.

  17. One of the most egregious uses of texting was one night at a religious service. The priest’s wife sat texting while their toddler ran around. The priest repeatedly stopped what he was doing to chase the toddler.

    When I came into the 21st century last Christmas and got an iPhone 4, I was constantly surfing the ‘net. It was a new toy. Now, not nearly as much and I don’t really text. I’ve even cut down my computer surfing time. Whereas I would waste an entire evening, weekend morning or afternoon arguing on the internet… “I can’t come to bed now, someone on the internet is wrong”… I hardly do that anymore. Not only was I wasting time, it was bringing out the worst in me. I was taking conversations with complete strangers far too seriously and personally.

  18. Hopefuly the technology of the coming years will eliminate most of these problems – I mean things like wearable computers, smartglasses, gestural interface, voice recognition etc. After all, smartphones are just a transitional phase,

  19. Fortunately or unfortunatey I read this from a link I saw on my Facebook feed as I was scrolling through my iPhone!

    #ivegotproblems!

    Agree on all accounts and I’ve deleted my Facebook app multiple times and have somehow needed (read wanted) to redownload.

    It’s all so new in our lives we are surely experiencing quite the learning curve on how to implement technologies without the negative consequences.

    Good stuff Mark.

    Patrick

  20. I got rid of my smart phone, much to my wife’s dismay, about two years ago. I was in Chicago one beautiful fall day. One of those days when Lake Michigan had white tops over a steely blue mirrored surface. The air was crisp and clean, the majestic buildings on Lake shore drive stood in all their glory in the Autumnal golden light. I was walking down the street, head up, looking around. All I could see coming at me where hordes of people staring at their palms. That day I reset my phone to factory default and stuck it up on Ebay.

    1. That seems extreme. If you don’t feel compelled to constantly stare at it, why not own one just in case? They’re helpful when you need directions or text someone when you’re running late.

  21. Facebook seems particularly pernicious. Is it the “likes” system? I opened a FB account a few years ago and deleted it within the week, far to creepy for my taste.

    As for night time smartphone use, the thing has “aeroplane mode”. Turn it to non-connected after dinner, turn the connections back on at breakfast time… sometimes I forget it’s off ’till lunchtime.

    1. iPhones even have a “do not disturb” setting, so you still receive everything but your phone doesn’t make that buzz or ding sound. So you can leave it in a room and check in the morning without getting bombarded by updates because they’re already there.

      Mine goes on and 9 pm and goes off at 8 am. I love it.

  22. You nailed it home with me on the laying in bed looking at what other people are doing…my nightly ritual ends tonight 🙂

  23. There is a Firefox add-on called Leechblock, where you can set your own time limitations on certain websites, or the Internet in general. It does help.

    I’m sure there are other similar programs out there too.

  24. Well this is interesting b/c I am a late adopter of any kind of technology. I’m in my 50’s and I just got a regular cell phone a 7 months ago and I only started using it because we are between houses so I don’t have a land line. They sound horrible though – I would be happy to switch back a land line. I only singed up for facebook in January and have fewer than 60 friends. It’s about right and I actively communicate with 1/3 of them regularly. Whereas before fb it was just Christmas cards and fewer and fewer of those every year. My experiment shows that I like fb a lot, partly because I am a photographer and a writer. We do allow the kids to get online but only until 6 p.m. (at which point a lot of yelling ensues “time to get off the electronics! Ah, mom”) TV is very restricted in our house and I don’t watch it at all. I kind of think TV and processed foods are the worst things modern life has to offer. But really, we all grew up with constant TV and we are all using this medium to communicate right now, so it can’t be all bad.

  25. In a very digitally connected world, we are becoming more and more socially disconnected creatures. And I would also add very socially awkward creatures.

    When you don’t have to confront an individual face-to-face, when you can hide your true feelings behind a screen, when verbally emphatic “I love you’s” become a texted “love u” … we lose the core of authenticity, the core of being a real human.

  26. I think the Facebook-depression tie is a case of correlation, not causation. Implying that spending time on Facebook leads to lonliness and depression, as the cited study seems to, seems backwards. If you’re lonely and/or depressed, I think you seek out contact, and may perceive that the easiest way to get that contact is via Facebook (or Twitter or whatever).

    Mark is right – real, positive human contact is the best medicine.

  27. My husband and I got rid of our facebook accounts last year and its been awesome. Now we are getting rid our cable subscription. We have all this time now that we didn’t before. Great article! (Sent from my smartphone, can’t quite give that up yet)

  28. Correction: reSTART in Fall City, Washington is actually the “first inpatient” treatment program for those suffering from IAD–at least for the age 18+ population, that is. Maybe it is your definition of “inpatient.” Anyway, reSTART is a residential treatment center that opened in 2009.

    We’re the first residential treatment center for the under 18 crowd (with an emphasis on gaming addiction, for boys). Liberty Springs (www.libertysprings.com). But, you’re right, that there will be more to follow. Thanks for increasing the awareness, Mark! Oh, and the primal lifestyle is how we do it at Liberty Springs :).

    1. I saw a presentation about reSTART at an ADHD conference last year.

  29. Today a friend took her spouse into the hospital and ended up having to make a decision on surgery vs. immediate death. She had all her friends on Facebook to be with her as she made the decision. She asked everyone to send in beautiful pictures from where they were that the could share as they knew they would never leave the hospital together again. It was a privilege to be a part of it.

    And it is proof that the hyper-connected world is NOT a one-way street away from socialization and humanity… the sky is not falling. Quite the opposite. I have the letters of my great great great grandmother who gave birth and buried her children alone on the prairie (truly alone- her husband was always traveling) and could only write her sisters and hear back from them months later. That is the good ol’ days?

  30. Hi Mike!

    This is a great article. I had to share it! I was just contemplating the effects of our constant exposure to technology the other day, so it is great timing.

    Although technology and especially the Internet have enhanced our lives by allowing us to connect with people more freely and gain access to a ton of knowledge, we also have to consider the consequences of being “hyperconnected.” Thank you for bringing awareness to this issue that we all face today.

    Kristen

  31. I am an engineer. I sit on computer 8-9 hrs/day. Yes, you see the bad posture everywhere. The other office workers are walking and staring DOWN at device all the time. The food they eat is disgusting, they love soft drinks, energy drinks, etc. I am surrounded by de-conditioned & weak human beings. Fortunately I train every day, ride my bike to work and all errands and because I am contractor will be unemployed 3-4 or more months/year. This is how I balance the cubicle life with my real physical life. I eat paleo and train Muay Thai and Crossfit. I am looking for a new, non-computer career. Thanks for another great posting.

  32. I am surprised there has been no mention of internet porn addiction. It’s a difficult and, I believe, a far wider ranging problem than almost anyone realises.

  33. On of my favorite things about my phone is Do Not Disturb mode. I will not allow social media and random texts to disrupt my sleep. I have DND mode scheduled to turn on every night at my usual bedtime and turn off when I usually wake up. I have it set to accept calls only from a list of people that I know would call me if there is an emergency (mom, dad, sister, best friend, etc). When I wake up in the morning, or my alarm wakes me up, I look at my phone and see all my notifications; missed texts, tweets, etc and I can respond to them all in a row from my bed before I get out to shower. It’s a great system. With DND mode on, not only does your phone not chime or vibrate, but it doesn’t even light up the screen… which sometimes is enough to wake people up

  34. I’m afraid that all of you naysayers who are disconnecting are just Luddites who are holding up the Singularity. Your paltry attempts to avoid being technologically connected will come to naught when internet brain implants become mandatory, your consciousness merges in realtime with billions of others, and your corpus turns into a pasty lump on an IV. Your grass-fed bacon won’t save you then! Bwahahahah!

    (lol)

  35. Great post.

    I’ve been calling more lately (vs. emailing or texting). It’s harder to get someone on the phone – so the barrier is higher – and I think that’s what we all need more of (i.e. a self-imposed obstacle to what otherwise is way too easy).

    Today, on something super important, I insisted on an IN PERSON meeting among 4 people. To accommodate all of our schedules, the meeting has to wait until Wednesday of next week – but so be it. A lot is at stake and it warrants being face to face. Even if it didn’t, we’re all in the same city, so why not do it? In person connection feels better. It’s so, like – Primal, you know. 🙂

    Susan

    P.S. I’ve intentionally lead myself to dislike my phone, and it’s a good thing,

  36. That statistic of 110-150 times a day seems insane. But maybe its not so unbelievable. I recently uninstalled Facebook on my android phone because I felt I was becoming to beholden to it. “Nice, I got 5 likes from a comment and from attractive cool people!”. Its so shallow but I can’t stop those feelings, so I decided to vastly reduce my access to Facebook.

  37. I know that I am addicted to checking the news, my fb and email. In fact, I can sit for 15 minutes just staring at the screen of my iphoone and switching between apps. What helps me is to constantly think about the fact that staying connected will not add value to my life, i.e. there is really nothing urgent that cannot wait..

  38. You’ve left out a most important point. Not paying attention to those around you. According to the news a couple of days ago, passengers on SF Muni failed to notice a man brandishing a gun repeatedly in the car. They were all too busy looking at their phones or tablets to look up. Finally, the perp shot and killed a young man as he exited the train.

  39. As we speak I am logged onto the internet leaving a comment on this forum about being logged onto the internet leaving comments on forums !

  40. very timely! i’m turning 40 this weekend and i booked myself a personal retreat in a small beach cabin with few (if any) people around, no screens, no electricity, no phone service, no internet and no heat other than a wood stove. 3 days…i cannot wait.

  41. Software developer here. I sit in front of a screen 8 hours a day.
    But I set boundaries on what goes into my brain all day.

    I don’t read email at all most mornings. I treat my cell phone as a land line (ie I leave it at home). Not on Facebook or Twitter. I manage my online presence for HR-related searches of me with my own web domain and a mostly inactive LinkedIn account.
    The news I get is focused and comes mostly from RSS feeds that are not too active.
    I have a tablet, but use it for reading Kindle books on the train while commuting. The wi-fi is usually off.

  42. Who’s seen the Wall-E film… We do need to be careful that we don’t end up like those ‘blob-people’ on the spaceship! They didn’t see it coming either, drinking their energy drinks and using technology to communicate to the people next to them!

    I know it’s only a cartoon but I have seen people in the same room texting only to find out they were texting each other!!!

    1. I, too, think of those Wall-E people quite often when talking about the benefits of Primal living! As we Primal devotees strive to live more like “real” humans have existed successfully for millennia, it is indeed sobering to realize that many of our fellow humans are actually closer to the Wall-E people than they are to so-called ancestral humans.

      [I feel compelled to explain that I am on the site and reading these comments and making my first ever reply solely because I am at the side of my ailing (and currently sleeping) 86-year-old mother.]

      P.S. Fifty-nine years old; no Facebook; no smartphone. But now I’m a total Primal junkie!

  43. Great post as always! A teacher back in middle school or high school once used the term “future shock” to describe our relationship with technology: it is changing so fast that we can’t mentally keep up with it, or ever get a chance to become truly comfortable with it, so we are always in a state of mild shock. Our grandparents, in spite of all the innovations happening during their lives, still didn’t experience the rapid technological development we experience on a daily basis.

    I am trying to remind myself of what I did as a kid during my free time before smartphones and get back to that. Yeah, Gameboy was part of it. Now, I would hardly call it obsolete. It’s RETRO! Just like the classic Nintendo that we bust out at parties so we can take turns playing Mario.

    I agree with the comments that say it’s about how you use your tools.

  44. I bought a new smartphone (S4) recently then returned it after a week. Not only was it unnecessary to have, but I found my phone use increased and was developing an addicting habit for no reason at all. It was used for texts and calls with the internet being a small bonus. Seeing all the apps and costs as superfluous, I’m happy I returned it.

  45. Wake up call for me!! I knew I had an addiction when I met “FarmVille” (don’t laugh). I lived my life according to when the crops would be ready to harvest. I celebrated when Zynga figured out how we could harvest them on our smartphone (stop laughing). Zynga reeled us in and I was addicted. I had to go cold turkey and stay away from the farm. The separation was painful. In my mind I was disappointing my fellow farm friends, letting my crops shrivel to brown wisps of nothing. But proudly, I am two year, three months and six days clean (you can clap now 🙂

    So I am cured, right? Well, my latest favorite smartphone app is “Nextdoor” A handy little app that you can log into and all your real life — living in your physical neighborhood — can chat and share concerns. What is wrong with this picture? We are supposed to be going outside and meeting these people…not picking up our phone to chat with someone we wouldn’t recognize in a crowd!

    I need to reevaluate. I want my life back. I love my smart phone. I love my computer. I love facebook…okay, I only like that but they don’t give us a choice to ‘like” — but I remember having a life and talking to people. Talking to coworkers on breaks rather than going and spending time on my smart phone. If the current trend of personal electronics continues, we will not know how to socialize in fifty years. We won’t know how to start a conversation. Fall in love. Enjoy a moment. We need to learn how to balance the obvious awesome benefits of technology with the almost forgotten awesome benefits of living in the moment.

    Excuse me while I contemplate deleting my nextdoor app and perhaps taking my dog for a walk.

    1. I’ve heard that this latest “smart phone” generation is actually the most friendly and social of all previous decades. Go figure…

  46. Frankly I could care less about being connected. My time is more important to me than that. When I’m on the internet it’s about research I’m not looking to be entertained. That being said I don’t mind a little entertainment component to what I’m reading or watching, makes for a better read or watch. It’s the constant uselessness of the majority of most everything else that I find annoying (painful, disgusting, head shaking, etc.etc.etc.).That which causes so many others to be so caught up in their digital worlds, physically doing absolutely nothing, wasting away and yet feeling a sense of somehow being more complete or fulfilled because of their participation. Give me a freaking break haha. Close the laptop, turn off the phone, put down the controller. There is a something called life…check it out!!

  47. I don’t care if people “like” me in real life, much less on Facebook…

  48. I don’t use a smartphone or have a facebook account. Never have. Quite proud of it.

    The long-term effect of all this technology is that we are loosing our cranial capacity and instead carrying around our “think-boxes” in our twisted, clawed hands. We’re being systematically lobotomized by the tech industry, and paying dearly for it.

    Technology is a dead end. Connection to Nature is the only way forward for humanity at this point.

  49. It’s like a drug. Since before I started my website, I deleted my personal Facebook (well facebook actually only lets you “deactivate it”) over 4 years ago.

    Deleting my facebook was the greatest productivity and happiness hack I’ve ever discovered.

  50. One of the things that I do and my management consulting company supports is the concept of an email curfew, we call it Zmail and it was just reported on my Fast Company- http://www.fastcompany.com/3019655/how-to-be-a-success-at-everything/should-your-company-practice-zmail-the-case-for-inbox-curf

    In addition I set my phone to go into suspend mode from 10pm to 6am, so that I don’t get any late night phone calls or text that may tempt me or interrupt my sleep. This has been working really well for me.

  51. A topic we all want to know about so thanks for the read! However, I feel I should now shut down my laptop…

    Actually turning my home office into a standing desk setup has made me feel a lot better about being online during the day but evening tech time seems to have a lot less purpose so I’m cutting out smart phone use at night. It also causes a good few arguments in my household!

  52. Wait a minute here. How in the world can “73% of people” have smart phones when only 5% of the population owns a computer. This makes no sense.

  53. My fiancé and I share a cellphone and use it almost exclusively to call home to speak to each other. It’s also handy to have for emergencies. So we aren’t experiencing any addiction problems with that. But I admit I find it hard to leave the games alone that come with our cable package or some I’ve found online. And even aimless surfing night after night is all too easy to do. I have now been online for almost two hours and our pet rabbit, who has had enough of being ignored, is stamping his foot and growling. Time to call it a night.

  54. This is a definite problem for me. Although, I run a blog so I often think it’s necessary for me to be hyper-connected (well…maybe not hyper). Right now I’m working to find a good balance between not being connected constantly but still being active enough on the internet to run a successful blog. It’s difficult.

  55. What a perfectly-timed post. I actually just found myself feeling the Facebook depression. I took your advice and removed the app from my phone. I have been thinking about the affects of technology lately and really needed to read this post.

    Thank you.

  56. My Iphone has a do not disturb function that you can set on a timer. It does not give me any notifications between 10pm and 7am.