We're Chained to Our Phones and It's Scarier Than We Think

We're Chained to Our Phones and It's Scarier Than We Think

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do you know what 11 hours of screen time looks  like? it looks like rolling over in bed as soon   as you wake up to check your notifications. not  like you can read or comprehend anything--that's   not the point of the reflex. it looks like  scrolling mindlessly while you eat, while you use   the bathroom, while you wait in line at the grocery  store so no one can look at you too hard. it looks  

like playing background noise while you shower, or  cook, or exercise. like when you're trying to commit   to hobbies but the hobbies are too...quiet. but what  does the absence of that screen time look like?   it looks like trying to find ways to stay busy; working even if you don't want to, reading even   though your brain won't latch. it feels like your  brain is still on that treadmill you primed it for,  

running as fast and as hard as it can but there's  nothing beneath its feet; it's just running on air. it looks like staring at the wall, wanting to do  something but ultimately realizing that you have   no energy to do what you want anyways. it looks  like wondering; what if my friend sends me a funny   tweet or a hilarious tik-tok and i can't view  it? what if they think i'm ignoring them? what if   something's happening on twitter--something funny... something bad? what if something bad is happening? 

what if all the usual bad things are happening,  the ones that keep me up at night, but there's   something worse on the horizon? what if people  need me? what if i disappointed someone? what if   someone notices my absence? what if no one notices  my absence? what does my absence say about me   what does my absence say about other people? what  if there's a meteor plummeting towards earth and   everyone's trying to warn me to take cover--to find  a way out, to do something new, something different,  something salvageable, something that will outlast  me before life as we know it ceases to exist?   what if i'm left alone with my  thoughts? what if i'm left alone? as if that'll help. what if you say something wrong?  don't you have to keep tabs on everything to make   sure you're well liked? don't you have to peruse  your tag on twitter? tik-tok? have you tried   tumblr? your comment section is amassing hundreds  of comments, you must have said something wrong. you   must have hurt someone, what if you hurt someone?  don't you care about hurting someone? what if   someone's viewing your instagram story and thinks  that something you posted on there was weird?   shouldn't you rewatch every single post, comb  through every detail to make sure nothing is   weird? what if no one liked your instagram story?  what if no one likes you? pick up your phone!   put it down. you're fine, you spend too much  time on it. you waste too much time. shouldn't  

you be working, shouldn't you be reading,  walking, exercising, partaking in hobbies,   calling your mom, texting your friends back,  messaging back strangers, reading your comments,  checking your tumblr, someone says they hate you  and your videos on tumblr. instagram is crashing   people are having to reconcile with  the two hours of downtime. reminisce   with them on twitter. something is happening  on twitter. instagram's back. tumblr. twitter   pick up your phone! pick up your phone! pick  up your phone! shanspeare, pick up your phone! it's been 11 hours...you were on your phone  for 11 hours. aren't you ashamed of that? DOCTOR: um   okay... i just asked you how your day was going, i  was expecting some small talk but this is fine   um...i'll tell you what, since you can't make  it into the appointment today, i want you to  

watch something instead. it's by one of my trusted  colleagues. i show it to everyone who exhibits the   symptoms you mentioned and it usually helps. are  you ready for the link M.Shanspeare? MS: yes doctor   oh and do try to watch it on your laptop. try  putting some distance between you and your phone according to abrar al-heeti,  author of "chronically online:   what the phrase means and some examples," a  chronically online person can be defined as   "someone who spends so much time  online it skews their sense of reality."   the exact etymology of the phrase  is unknown--not to researchers but to me--but   wikipedia notes that chronically online has  been around at least since 2014. you can   imagine. i mean, the internet in 2014 was like a  mcdonald's ice cream machine on any given day;

that sh*t was broken. as the cores and waves  of our generation began sprouting up like pesky   little weeds, chronically online entered the  household lexicon sometime in the latter half   of the 2010s. chronically online people are said  to "believe that online posts are very important."   they see twitter discourse as a defining facet  of existence, they back read their tumblr feed   like the morning newspaper... don't get me started  on reddit. please don't get me started on reddit.   though the term can be used for individual people  it can also reference events or ideas. in fact  

according to wikipedia, being chronically online  alludes to "both reformation of the delivery of   ideas as well as the ideas themselves." so not  only do we primarily communicate in internet   slang, memes, gifs, and copy pasta, but the things  in which we talk about have drastically changed.   most politicians probably spent their social  hours talking about foraging for berries or the   latest cave drawings... because they were all born  in the mesozoic era, apparently. but generation z   and younger millennials talk about...god i just  got vivid flashbacks to homestuck for some reason   not only that but we discuss and perform these  sorts of ideas outside of the internet. usually   with our friends but rarely out in public...around  strangers. in that way being chronically online  

is considered a way of doing things rather  than a reference to where those things are   done. hi, i'm editing. i do think it's interesting  and kind of hypocritical--oh you can see my cat anyways i think it's interesting and hypocritical, the phrase extremely online, because although it's   said to be known by the general public, i don't  necessarily think it is. i think it's one of   those things where the pot is calling the kettle  black, you know? like only the extremely online can   call other people extremely online, because they're  probably the only ones who are able to tell what   is extremely online. summarily, the daily dot  considers chronically online people to be  

individuals who are "interested in topics no normal,  healthy person could possibly care about."   that reminds me. there is a bit of discourse  surrounding potential ableism in the phrases   chronically online and terminally online. we  usually use the term chronic to refer to chronic  

illnesses and some people believe that taking that  word and using it negatively to criticize people   adds stigma to the phrase. a subscriber named  johnny states: "as someone with a chronic condition   myself and who would consider myself chronically  online, i do think it's kind of offensive slash   rude to use it derogatorily in the way that  the use of chronic to describe a state of being   implies a condition and using a condition as an  insult is obviously ableist. but i think using it   as a neutral description for one's own behavior  is acceptable since it's an actual thing people   struggle with that affects their perception,  mental health, and whatever else." there are also   some subscribers who don't agree with this sentiment. anonymous states: "i do not think it  

is ableist to point out how this can affect  someone's relationships off of the internet   and their own sense of self by using the phrase  chronically online. and to be honest i think the   phrase chronically online gives a lot of people  the language to describe" long-standing internet   use. though it is one of those things on the fence,  for the sake of respecting those who do find this   term offensive when used negatively, i'll be using  the phrase extremely online henceforth. in my very   serious, very shakespearean level of research on  tiktok.com, i found the use of extremely online   used often to refer to people who have a moral  superiority complex or people who show outrage   for inconsequential things. it can be used to  refer to people who regurgitate hot takes they've   seen online, primarily on tik tok and twitter, but the hot take has become so corroded that   it's unrecognizable from the original argument.  it's like people are playing a game of telephone  

through social media; they heard from someone,  who heard from someone, who heard from someone,  who saw it in a tik tok once that eating  apples is co-opting aave. the term extremely   online is also misused a lot across tik-tok  and is becoming synonymous with people who share   valid concerns about discrimination like  misgendering or racial microaggressions.   with all of that in mind, i began to see why  so many of the sources i found for this video   cite "woke culture" and "cancel culture" as  staples of the extremely online community   side note: but i would rather my face  get eaten off by moth man himself   before i ever use these two phrases unironically.  they originated in the black queer community but  

have since been co-opted by conservatives who  use the word so poorly that all meaning has   been leeched from their very existence. like what  the f**k is a woke pizza hut? like shut up. god! my point of contention is not with woke culture  and cancel culture, at least not in the modern   sense of the words. i would argue that the idea  of extreme onlineness has the potential to   manifest in three distinct categories: the  political, the personal, and the profitable   politics is a broad category in the united states.  it's primarily used in reference to the government   (sometimes used synonymously with human rights)  but when it comes to online-ism, the meeting   loses its objective nature. when i think of  politics, onlineness, and extremism, i usually   think of the pipelines that shuffle predominantly  younger, predominantly white, predominantly cis men   towards escalating forms of alt-rightness. some  subscriber submissions view political doom  

scrolling as a form of extreme onlineness; other  people think of performative activism and guilt   trip activism, where people post infographics and  say you're going to hell if you don't post them on   your story, too. but i think the gist of my entire  argument for the political section of this video   can be boiled down to a few words: y'all don't  know how to talk to people. but i'mma let it slide   but--but, i'm--i'mma--f**k no, i'm not gonna let it  slide! i'm on your ass today. there are three major   facets of political discourse that i've noticed  among the extremely online: a clear deprivation of   complexity in others, an aim for moral superiority  in oneself, and suppression of construction when it   comes to criticism. aka y'all don't know how to  talk to people. according to julie zhao, author  

of "where anonymity breeds contempt," the power of  invisibility often lends people the privacy to   misbehave. [whistle] this theory stretches back all the way  to ancient greece, where plato theorized that "even   a habitually just man who possessed invisibility  would become a thief, knowing that he couldn't be   caught." therefore morality, as plato argues,  "comes from full disclosure; without accountability   for our actions, we would all behave unjustly."  the same idea works on the internet;   people have the ability to forgo profile pictures,  real names, or any identifying features that can be   traced back to them. this allows them to say and do  whatever they want with little to no repercussions   an anonymous user's friends don't lose respect for  them when they purposefully misgender someone or   spew transphobic rhetoric because no one knows  they're saying it. or they have friends that are   just as if not more bigoted than they are, who's to  say? but let's dial it back to something a bit more   mild--something that's more annoying than it is  bigoted. there's a lot of begging the question  

online. instead of presenting arguments  formed by critical thought and nuance,   we often assume the intentions behind someone's  words or actions, which just leads to purposeful   misrepresentation. i remember i got a comment on my  last video accusing me of saying something i just   never said. they got mad at a quote i pulled from a  subscriber, recognized two words out of that quote,   and formulated an entirely different argument  than what that quote implied, using words and   accusations that aren't even featured at all  throughout the entire video. but f**k that, none of that matters, i'm used to it. the thing  that got me is the fact that they ended it   by saying: "god, video essayists know nothing about  tumblr and it leads to cringey videos like this."

you'd look this person in their eyes and tell them  they know nothing about tumblr? you'd bet your life   on that? i was there when the superwholockian-- sorry. i was there when the superwholockians burned   down the metaphorical locker of shame, climbed  out of the fire with no scratches, put on their   fez, scarf, and black contacts before uttering the  words still imprinted in the back of my mind today   you shouldn't have done that. on the internet,  no longer is the person you're arguing with   online just saying they like pancakes. no  that admission of their love of one thing   proves that they hate everything that isn't  that. it doesn't matter that they didn't say  

that. they're war criminals. they just personally  targeted you with the statement 'i like pancakes'   and you must do something about it. so you  fire off three twitter threads about how   this person is the scum of the earth and anyone  who interacts with them is going to twitter hell   somewhere along the line the original argument  gets lost, other people are joining in, the person   is run off the platform--or worse. and don't assume  what i'm referencing here, there's no reference.   because i don't necessarily have to point to  one event or one downfall. you can take your pick   "dogpiling on social media: without long-term goals  it's just empty performance" is an article written   by whiteclaw explaining--[lowered voice] whiteclaw previously  submitted why furries care about politics in 2018.

did i choose a source written  by an actual furry--whiteclaw... white claw mentions how dog piling usually  features an indistinguishable mass of people. a   mass of which refuses to acknowledge that they're  dog piling in the first place. "according to them   they are critiquing, complaining, offering their  opinion, standing up for themselves, and or others,  responding, calling out, and any other number of  words and terms that can be used to describe their   actions. but never are they dog piling." this mass  jumping occurs primarily on social media after   someone does something bad-- 'bad' being a vague  and oftentimes undefinable category of actions   "within the spectrum of events there are making an  honest mistake or slip up, wording something poorly,   having a bad take, promoting an idea or opinion  that is polarizing, promoting an idea or opinion   that is actively harmful, being a bigot, or  committing acts that are dangerously close to   or are in fact illegal." for the sake of this video  and my sanity i'll emphasize here that i am not   critiquing accountability. when someone does  something in reference to the last few events  

here i think it's valid to question where your  loyalties lie. you don't have to support, platform,   or finance anyone whose moral code differs from  your own if that's where you draw the line. for the   sake of this video i am strictly talking about  things that do not actively cause others harm   things that are not racist, sexist, transphobic,  ableist, and the like. when we dogpile someone  

who says something relatively harmless or  unintentionally offensive, do we dogpile them   because we're upset at what they've said and  think dogpiling will erase what they've said   or do we dogpile them because it's fun and it's  the internet and everyone's doing it? it's the   latter, what did you expect? white claw summarizes  this by stating "the dog pile wants only one thing:   to revel in the enjoyment of taking someone  down." people who are called extremely   online in terms of their political activism  tends to be called as such because of these   murky intentions. they want perfection, and they  don't necessarily even want perfection from you.  they just want you to know that they're the  perfect one because they're the first one to   call you out. it's quite literally a running joke  on social media that extremely online people--at   least this specific manifestation of them--tend  to be obsessed with being better than everyone   else. they have better morals, they have better  opinions, their fave is not problematic like yours.   and they use this perfectionism to their advantage. when they start condemning random people on the   internet for harmless or inconsequential things,  it helps to know that it's coming from someone so   perfect, right? i'm like dyeing my hair now  i'm sorry. but i want people to understand  

exactly what i mean when i say inconsequential  things. like for instance, i was on tik tok and   i saw someone say that an 18 year old and a 19  year old shouldn't date because that is morally   ambiguous and there are certain power dynamics  at play that make it wrong for a 19 year old   to date someone one year younger than them. it's  an extremely online thing to do to manufacture   rage and condemnation out of something teachable,  revel in the chaos and dehumanization that ensues,   and then feign innocence when it's done because  no one can single you out for participating.   putting that aside, here's [laughs] here's some required  reading on the subject by some of my fellow   creators. the political manifestation of the  extremely online can best be summarized by william   hawes, author of "the rise of the terminally online:  digital subjectivity and simulation of the social."   that's a big word for elmo. in that article, haws  argues that we depend upon hot takes instead of  

systematic changes and in doing so we create echo  chambers which are further held up by algorithms   that push the loudest, most clickable voices. "in  this environment, political commentary in the west   resembles sports news, or movie reviews, or fashion  advertising; a running conversation on trendy   stupefying, salacious current events where no  serious response to the power structure or   the money system is offered." i think  extremely online people in the political sphere   tend to be so negatively engaged simply because  that's how these apps sustain traffic (and because   they have an anger quota) while we are pleased  by the positive aspects of social media like   community and cat photos, hawes argues that we  also get a "perverse enjoyment from diving into   the swamp of rancor and abuse that posting online  inevitably stirs up." doom scrolling, moral   superiority, and senseless twitter draggings keep  us logged in for longer, has us engaged for longer   and begins to atrophy our senses, as hawes  puts it. and that, dear reader, is when things get  

a little personal. what does 11 hours of screen  time look like? according to dan kaufer, md, "the   average american spent three hours and 30  minutes a day using mobile internet in 2019,"   which is 20 minutes more than the average 2018  figure. maya macguineas adds on to this stating   that "the average person taps, types, swipes, and  clicks on their smartphone 2,617 times a day. 93%   of people sleep with their devices within arm's  reach. 75% use them in the bathroom." the extreme  

half of extremely online is no hyperbole. E.  Bun Lee, in their study "too much information   heavy smartphone and facebook utilization by  african-american young adults," references a study   by billeaux et al, who state that "problematic use  of mobile phones has been viewed as a disorder   and conceptualized as addictive behavior marked by  symptoms of withdrawal, craving, and loss of control,"   within clinical psychology. this level of extreme  phone use has the potential to "adversely affect   cognition" which is the "process of acquiring  and applying knowledge through thought,   experience, and senses." does anyone remember  those 'this is your brain on hugs' videos? an   actor takes an egg--your brain for all intents and  purposes--and holds it next to a hot skillet, i.e [reggae music] he cracks it and lo and behold that is your brain on hugs. your brain on  extreme phone use looks a little more like   this. your brain becomes more passive as large  quantities of information are presented to it at  

the touch of a finger. you're less likely to retain  that information too since your brain didn't   really process it in the first place. your social  and emotional skills may take a hit as you spend   less time establishing interpersonal connections  and strong relationships outside of your screen.   you may become more impatient with people in real  life or just in general because you're so used   to the fast natured process of your phone. you're  riddled with depression, anxiety, stress, eye strain   and sleep disturbances. your head may  hurt more than usual. phantom vibrations   plague you, a phenomenon noted by the feeling of  vibrations or sound coming from your phone when   nothing's really there. human beings are primed for  social structures made up of about 150 individuals  

according to trevor haynes. smartphones on the  other hand present about 2 billion potential   connections-- all of which fit into a small device  which in turn fits in your pocket. alice cappelle   did a terrific video about anti-tech titled "the  anti-tech movement is back." and in it, she states   "the constant flow of stimulation puts us in a  state of paralysis. we're numbly being drawn back  

and forth by the waves of information, of so-called  progress, without reflecting on them." it's   easy to think of all of this as the phone user's  fault; just put the phone down, go touch grass, go   socialize. but there are many factors that may  prevent someone from doing so. perhaps they're   chronically ill or disabled and have to-- or can  only-- remain in their house. perhaps the internet is   someone's only way of socializing. but in addition  to this, someone being chained to their phone   is by design. that is the point of these big tech  companies and the point of their apps. in "dopamine   smartphones, and you: a battle for your time," trevor  haynes argues that social media apps like facebook   snapchat and instagram "leverage the very same  neural circuitry used by slot machines and   co***ne to keep us using their products as much  as possible." now it's important to note that being  

extremely online is not the same as being addicted  to a substance. i think dr. cyrus mccandless, who   specializes in neuroethology, makes a very valid  point when it comes to the language we use for   dopamine, addiction, and technology. you can find the  full address in "misunderstanding dopamine: why the   language of addiction matters," which is a tedx talk  he presented in 2018. i'm not laughing at that, i'm   laughing because my cats are fighting. what are you  guys doing?! but the gist of mccandless's point is  

that we misconstrue the relationship dopamine has  with our likes and desires. we aren't necessarily   addicted to something because we like it, we're  addicted because of how our brain is taught to   prioritize it through various reward systems. the  pull we feel towards our iphone or social media   apps is nothing compared to the surprise-success  signal released when someone uses a substance   the latter is much bigger and much more consuming  than the former, and quite literally rearranges our   priorities within our brains until that substance  is all we're able to seek. so while haynes may be   correct in that social media apps use the same  neural circuitry as substances, they're used in   a much different way on quite possibly a much  smaller scale. that's where dopamine comes in.   dopamine is a neurotransmitter that signals  pleasure for your brain. when we do something   pleasurable, like eating certain foods or being  with the people we love, dopamine is released from   the brain and makes us feel good. this feel-good  chemical reinforces whatever sequence that led  

us to the feeling in the first place. so we become  attached to our phones because of that "virtually   unlimited supply of social stimuli, both positive  and negative," haynes argues. this sequence can also   be exemplified by the variable reward schedule  which was created by bf skinner in the 1930s   "in his experiments he found that mice respond most  frequently to reward associated stimuli when the   reward was administered after a varying number  of responses, precluding the animal's ability to   predict when they would be rewarded." and if you know anything about the development   of social media apps and how they coax us into  spending hours on their platform, you'll know that   the variable reward schedule is how many of them  profit off of our attachment. in a perfect world   or maybe just in a perfect economic textbook,  capitalism would feature a well-functioning market   "prices are transparent and people have a basic  level of trust that exchanges of goods, services   and money will benefit all parties." but this  isn't a perfect world. much of capitalism's   promises fail to reach reality. and big tech  is actively undermining whatever else is left  

of its carcass. "their aim," mcguineas notes, "is not  merely to gain and retain customers, but instead   to create a dependency on their products."  apps do this by engineering their products to be   habit-forming. "the buzzes, badges, and streaks of  social media, the personalized deals of commerce  

sites, the algorithmic precision for youtube  recommendations, all have been finely tuned   to keep us coming back for more."  this is why the personal is so profitable   it's why we spend those three or more hours glued  to our screen while we tap, swipe, and click 2,617   times a day. because that is the purpose of these  apps--at least to the developer. Nir Eyal, author   of 'hooked: how to build habit-forming products'  further explains the variable-award theory   and its relationship to apps. the target audience  of this explanation is developers who wish to   integrate the theory into their systems. Eyal  states that the variable awards presented by  

a habit-forming product "suppresses the  areas of the brain associated with judgment and   reason while activating the parts associated with  wanting and desire." so that brief lag we   get when we refresh twitter turns out not to be a  brief lag at all but "an intentional delay written   into the code designed to elicit the response  Eyal describes." instagram also apparently holds   back the number of notifications they show  you when you open the app so that the number   accumulates and grows larger. and so when you first  post a photo and it shows you that you have low   likes, that negative response makes the future  when you see a larger number of likes all of a   sudden that much sweeter. even on youtube, with its  all-knowing algorithm that pisses me off to no end,   this idea of suppressed judgment and active  desire brings in billions of views-- and in turn   profit. according to mcguineas, the autoplay feature  "deprives viewers of a natural moment at which  

to disengage...as of 2017 users were watching a  collective 1 billion hours of youtube videos a day,   more than 70 percent of which had been served  to us in the form of algorithmic recommendations."   to even start getting paid on youtube  i think you have to draw in like 4,000 hours of   watch time from your viewers. it's by design. and  that says nothing of the other profitable yet   pilfering attitudes of these other companies. they  collect our data, our cookies, our locations, our  

likes, our dislikes, our buying habits; things that  seem inconsequential, maybe even a little valid in   the trade-off, and they do god knows what with them.  the wall street journal reported that iphone apps   used for tracking heart rate and menstrual cycles  allegedly sell that data to the likes of facebook   who in turn assures us that they're not using  it. Edward Cullen: Lie better. even apps that seem harmless enough   like pokemon go "rely on a system of rewards  and punishments to herd players to mcdonald's,   starbucks, and other stores that pays its  developers for foot traffic." not to mention   how prices on the internet are allegedly altered  by our spending habits. mcguineas states "by tracking   our purchasing patterns--what we will shell  out for an airline upgrade, how sensitive we   are to surge pricing--companies can make offers  based on what each individual is willing to pay   rather than what the market will bear." so if your  past browsing history implies affluence, the prices   you're shown on google search for instance may  be higher than your less affluent counterparts.  

this is furthered by research conducted by  benjamin reid schiller, who explains that   access to browsing history of any specific buyer  can increase company profit by 14.6 percent.   this sh*t is horrifying. i would say it's orwellian, but i fear conservatives will think i'm   one of them. as Theodore F. Claypole explains, "like  casinos built without sunlight or clocks so as to   encourage your further play, the social media sites  and data mining industry study online behavior and   build manipulation machines designed to entice you  to remain engaged and to divulge information." in   other words, our attention economy is compromised.  and who knows how to properly secure it for good?

Lemme...Lemme redo that. and using a condition as an  insult is obviously...obviously AHT! bigoted. [singing S&M by Rihanna] [singing the intro to Umbrella by Rihanna ft Jay Z] beard coming all the way off. i don't  even think i'm talking anymore.  

these are real tears baby on command! I'm a god. can be boiled down to   a few words...please do not stop in front  of my house... they just peed on my mailbox

2022-07-10 23:45

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