In this blog journalist Mick Boskamp, 9 years clean & sober and former client of Castle Craig, does a remarkable confession.'Whenever I proudly tell people that I'll be celebrating ten years of clean time in April 2023, I forget to realize that I'm actually still actively addicted.'
It is true that I am not addicted to the substances I stopped using in 2013, but to something that I can access 24/7 and that until recently was also with me 24/7.
My cell phone.
I recently told a friend that my screen time was going through the roof, to which he replied, “If that phone is your only addiction, then you're all fresh and fruity, right? Be super thankful you don't take the real crap anymore.' A happy and proud friend's smile appeared on his face. I didn't want to be a spoilsport, so I kept quiet. I'm sure my response would have mixed up the good vibe. I wanted to add: 'Say one nomophobe to another.'
Nomophobia is literally an excessive fear of not being constantly available on a cell phone. A cell phone addiction is much more than that.
Nevertheless, nomophobia is synonymous with cell phone addiction, an addiction that so many people are addicted to that the addiction is no longer seen as an addiction.
And that while you only have to look at social media, at the excesses and consequences of this addiction. It is not the fear of being unavailable all the time that is the beating heart of this addiction, but quite the opposite. It is the fear that you are no longer continuously in the 'life' of others. How pathetic is that?
The figures have been telling for a while, but a lot of energy to at least warn about the addiction effect of the mobile phone is not to be found in the government, nor in the press and other media.
In February of last year, Metro wrote: 'A large part of today's youth (18 to 35 years old) would rather give up alcohol than their phone. Somehow positive, because they are not addicted to the bottle. But they are all the more attached to their screen.'
Note the nuance difference. Addicted to the bottle. And attached to the screen (probably the piece was written by someone with a cell phone addiction).
As early as 2014, a study by the University of Maastricht led to the conclusion that more than half of the Dutch youth are addicted to the use of the mobile phone. Besides the fact that all alarm bells should have gone off then, the question is: What would that figure be now 8 years later? With the advent of TikTok, Snapchat? With the flight from Instagram and with the lockdowns in the past two years where the mobile phone filled the isolation and loneliness? Social distancing led to a strong urge for social interaction and the only liberation from the outside world and fellow man was through the self-chosen ankle bracelet.
That's the name I came up with for the cell phone. When I catch myself again in an onslaught of news binging on the cell phone, I tell myself I'm crazy for choosing an ankle bracelet of my own accord. Because what are the benefits of that ankle bracelet? That you can be reached and traced anytime and anywhere. And that you become especially traceable to people who used to be chased out of the city with tar and feathers if they tried to knock money out of someone's pocket under false pretenses. No, you're done with that digital anklet!
If you think about it, a cell phone is actually the robot we all feared. We put billions of everything in it every day and it comes out multiplied. It thinks for us, it takes action for us, we do good and less good business with it, we find love and addictions (including gaming, gambling and attention), but the bottom line is that you are absorbed by your screen and that you deprive yourself of healthy quality time. If only because of the fact that you can't possibly be in the now via your cell phone. And no, a cell phone addiction is not a substance addiction, but a habitual addiction. In other words, an act that is important for a person to feel good or get a kick out of it. And they can be at least as persistent. Just look at a gambling, gaming, eating or sex addiction.
A loved one of mine, who was severely nomophobia but cured herself well, recently said something that made an impression on me. "Just think," she said. 'That you are in your last phase of life. That you know the end is near. These are moments when you think back to all the years that have gone by. The highs, the lows. You make up the sum of your life. I'm 100 percent sure you won't think, "If only I had spent more time on my cell phone in my life."
If after the above you think that I have seen the light and no longer look excessively at my cell phone, then you are wrong. If every addiction were this easy to solve, the world would be celebrating. But when I recently decided not to check my cell phone for a whole evening (and night), it didn't feel oppressive, but rather liberating. I should have done that more often. That's why I decided to go on a digital detox for a day soon. So no cell phone at all. If that feels right, I'll do it every week. This also resulted in the fact that my cell phone and I recently started sleeping separately. Me in the bedroom and he on the charger in the living room. Feels better too.
Why are the things that are bad for you so tempting and the things that are good for you so uninteresting? Apparently not interesting.
Because if you do them, they do you good.
Just this: circulating on Facebook a video of the page 'Positive'. You would think: that must be a nice, positive film. In the video we see real newsreel footage from Italy of a man in swimming trunks, who, standing in a fountain, terrorizes a woman in bikini. He hurts her by holding her by her long hair. A man jumps into the water and another man who immediately starts hitting. And in the end, the dangerous madman holding the woman by her hair and perhaps planning something worse is overpowered.
Nowhere. No one. Believe me, the cell phone problem is bigger and deeper than you think.