Today I’m going to write about addiction.
I’ve been wanting to do this for some time now, I still don’t know what will come out of it or if I’ll post the text, but I think it’s worth putting on paper something that, I’m sure, also worries you.
I’ve always thought of myself as someone who’s not very prone to addiction. I’ve never smoked, despite having tried a few cigarettes from time to time; with the exception of wine (which I started to like thanks to Philippe, who is French obviously), I don’t drink much; I don’t like gambling; and I’m not lucky enough to love sport to the point where it becomes addictive.
But, dear reader, the phone is an addiction. No matter how much I try to deny it, or to console myself thinking that half the planet is just as addicted as I am, or to say to myself that it’s not a big deal – the fact is the phone is an addiction.
According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary (forgive me but checking the dictionary is a professional habit), the first meaning of the word “addiction” is “compulsive need for and use of a habit-forming substance (such as heroin, nicotine, or alcohol) characterized by tolerance and by well-defined physiological symptoms upon withdrawal” and the second, “persistent compulsive use of a substance known by the user to be harmful”. In both cases, I have no choice but to surrender to the evidence that my use of the mobile phone is addictive.
I wake up with the alarm of my mobile phone; I no longer wear a watch because I look at the time on my mobile phone; in the morning I look at weather and traffic apps; I have breakfast reading the day’s main news (on my mobile phone); I check the e-mails of my four personal and professional e-mail accounts at an unreasonable frequency; I don’t like Facebook at all because it rarely shows me interesting content, but even so, I turn around from time to time to see “what’s up” or if there’s something interesting for once; I’m not looking for a job but I check Linkedin; WhatsApp messages bombard the screen throughout the day; Instagram notifications attract my finger like a magnet; I book vacations on TripAdvisor, AirB&B and Booking apps; I edit Instagram photos with VSCO and Color Story, on my mobile; I call my mother on FaceTime so that she gets to see her grandchildren… And this goes on day after day.
I look at the phone when I wake up; on public transport “to kill time”; in the waiting room at the doctor’s or anywhere I have to wait, because it makes me feel I’m being productive; during the ads when I’m watching TV; at the restaurant, if the person I’m having dinner with goes to the bathroom or if he or she arrives 5 minutes late; I look at the mobile while I breastfeed Théo. And even Inés doesn’t tell me: “Mom, leave the mobile”. No. She’s so used to seeing me with it that when I don’t have it next to me and leave it somewhere in the house, she brings it to me without me asking her anything. For her, it’s so normal that she doesn’t even judge me.
I was such a dreamer, and now I hardly spend any time just dreaming or even better, doing nothing.
It comforts me to think that I’m not the only one, that we’re all the same, that this small “all in one” device is so practical, but the more I think about it, the more I’m afraid not only of the addiction it may cause, but also, and above all, of the feeling of being trapped and all the neurons that we probably burn by not indulging in the luxury of disconnecting.
As it’s often the case when you put in writing something that’s on your mind, the matter takes on greater importance and you’d be better off taking action. The problem with the mobile phone is that it’s not like tobacco, that is to say, totally harmful, so the only solution is to tackle the problem at its root. If it’s well used, a telephone is a great tool to keep up to date and stay connected. But I don’t want to be a slave, so here are my resolutions from now on:
– When I’m with the kids, my husband or anyone else who deserves my full attention, the mobile stays in the bag or in a drawer.
– I’m going to stop breastfeeding with my mobile because I’m half enjoying something that I’m going to miss a lot very soon.
– I’m going to set a limit on the number of times I check my mail, WhatsApps and, above all, Instagram.
– I’m going to start with a two week detox to “see what happens”.
I have no idea what these good resolutions will lead to, but I’ve never considered myself an addictive person, and I refuse to let my life revolve around a piece of plastic.
Photo credit: Sophie Thierstein.