Hello, my name is Jostein and I’m a blue light addict. I crave the blue light that my so called smart phone gives off, I need the blue light, it drives me, it feeds me. From the moment I wake up, all throughout the day my attention is focused around that electric unit in the palm of my hands, to being the last thing I look at before going to sleep at night. What has happened, is there a pulse, has to world gone on to live another day? What has happened in the lives of those around me, and most importantly, has anyone liked and/or commented on my online activities? It’s like a rush surging through my veins, as I fire up the Facebook app on my beloved smart phone. Seeing that red notification icon come up with a number. The number was zero when I went to bed, how high is it this morning? It’s all about being social they say, and you need to be social on Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instragram, Whatsapp and God knows where else. Social? Social network? Social? Hahaha, yes to an extent, but not really. But I said beloved smart phone, and I said so called smart phone, and I said social didn’t I?
Let me shed some light on why I phrased it just like that. Yes, modern smart phones are in its basic form smart, they do a hell of a lot more today than we could have dreamt of some 50 years ago. Heck, it’s only some 42 years ago that Martin Cooper of Motorola made the first ever call from what we today define as mobile phones. Four years before that, we first landed on the moon with a computer that ran with the speed of 0.043MHz and had 64KB of memory. Compare that with for instance the latest phone from Samsung, the Galaxy S6 which comes with a 2.1GHz processor and 3GB of memory. If we are to compare the difference in sheer numbers alone, we’re talking roughly 49 000 times more processor power and memory. This computer was very basic, and was only able to perform the most mundane tasks, whereas today’s smart phones can send emails, take pictures, playback movies and music, find your way back home or to your destination with its built in GPS and so much more.
But is it really smart? Or to ask the question somewhat differently, is it making us any smarter? Take the age old discussions at the pub, at work or around the dinner table. In the past, we had to rely solely on our wits and knowledge, and if we didn’t know the answer, we at least tried to deduce our way to the answer. If all came to fail, we found our way to the bookshelf to open up the encyclopaedia if your household were lucky enough to have one, or you phoned up someone you thought knew the answer. This was a lot more sociable and meant that you had to use your head. What do we do today? If a discussion arises, you can just time how long it takes for someone or everyone to whip up their phones to Google the answer. Gone is the joy and thrill of trying to deduce your way to the answer, gone is the stimulants of the joyful banter around the table as we all torment ourselves on the answer we all should know, but aren’t able to produce. No, the sad fact is that the smart phone is making us dumber. When our parents grew up, they had to memorize the things they learnt. They didn’t have access to the internet. They didn’t have the short cuts we have today. If they wanted to find out, they had to work for it. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for making knowledge easily accessible, but it’s a proven fact that the modern human forgets a lot more than we did just 50 years ago. Why? Because we are constantly being bombarded with information from all over the world, from different channels such as TV, radio and last but not least the Internet with its non stop stream of information. Our constant bombardment of information is too much for the brain to cope with, so in order to make room for new information, old information has to be indexed or just tossed away like yesterdays news.
Most people these days call their phones among their most priced and beloved possessions, and if you asked someone to be without a mobile phone and internet access for an extended period of time, even a few days, most would just frown upon you and laugh. Most people don’t think about this gut reaction that most would fire off, but it’s a sign of addiction, an addiction I’ve come to realise I suffer from. In many ways, my phone controls me more than I control it. And you see it everywhere you these days, no matter where you are. If you’re at the pub, everyone is taking pictures of how truly excellent their life is at that exact moment in time. Surrounded by friends, having a laugh, getting their booze on. You see it on the bus, you see it on the train. First thing most do, is to find their phones and select the right music, check their so called social feeds to get the pulse of what’s going on, and of course, we have to tell the whole world that that damned train was running 10 minutes late, meaning the rest of my day is ruined! People don’t talk any more. If you bump into someone on the train, we used to say we’re sorry, but now both parties just look up from their phones, let out a loud sigh as to say don’t fucking bother me I’m busy updating myself, to seconds later stare down into that blue light abyss.
God forbid you manage to break your phone, or even worse, lose it. For the modern person, such a dreadful event is like losing someone close. The picture of Gollum from Lord of the Rings springs to mind, sitting there cradling his precious, his precious ring. Or in this case, the broken phone or if the precious is lost, sitting there sobbing uncontrollably trying to get over such a traumatic event. I’m losing out on what’s going out there! I don’t know whether my friends, relatives and business acquaintances are alive, or dead, what they are doing. They could have checked in somewhere important! Or they could be out sailing! Or they could be on the mountain skiing! Or they could be down at the lovely beach, on that vacation they’ve been talking about for so long! I want to live my life through others, I need my fucking fix, and I need it NOW!!!
Whatever happened to living the life in the moment, just embrace what is going on around you, there and then? So what if you’re sitting in your comfortable chair at home doing nothing, or if you’re down by the river trying to recharge your batteries by just watching the river flow. Whatever happened by actually giving yourself a chance to breathe, to live your own life, through your eyes and your eyes alone.
Being a victim of bullying for many, many years, it left me scarred and socially awkward. Most people would never see it, but being sociable never came easy to me. I would shine in surroundings where I felt safe, and people would enjoy my company, but a huge part of me was working on overdrive on the inside just to make ends meet. It’s only over the last few years I’ve been able to function well out there in the real would, without having to invest huge amounts of energy on the inside to keep up appearances on the outside. It took a long while for me to love myself, and only by loving yourself can you love others, and be the person you were meant to be.
But what happened then? When you’re out there, being sociable you see other people there with the same purpose. They are there to be social. But are they really social? No, most people are to caught up in fondling their smart phones, taking pictures of their perfect life and documenting it for everyone to see. Being social with those that actually came out to see you seems to secondary, of less importance, than updating social networks with your current activities. I’ve left most of my social insecurities behind and try not to be bothered too much about it, because I’ve been doing the same thing for years, but I only wonder how really socially insecure people cope with this. To be honest, I don’t think they cope all that well.
What really troubles me, is how far this social detachment has gone. You see this behaviour in pubs, in restaurants, in theatres, at the movies, when you have friends and family over for dinner, in weddings but worst of all, funerals. When did it become socially acceptable to take selfies during funerals and post them to social media? If you’re at a funeral, pay some fucking respect to the deceased and those left behind! Don’t be so self centred that you think only of yourself and how you look online. And going back to having friends and family over, who hasn’t been there, having spent the better parts of the day making the place look nice, spending hours to make some good food and to set the atmosphere, only to have it ruined by that blue light monster? Showing appreciation to the one that has spent his or her time to make it a good night, no that’s secondary, it’s more important to update the social feeds and feed the masses! And my best bit, is people who instead of talking with those present, choose to talk with others out there via online messaging services. It’s downright rude and insulting. Yes, a quick message might be okay, but spending most of the afternoon and evening with the blue light monster when you were actually invited to be social, it’s NOT okay.
I’ve sinned to all of these things myself, but I’ve had it, I don’t want some electronic gadget to control my life, I want to maintain that control for myself. I don’t want to blue light monster to enslave me. I want to live. I want my attention to be where it’s supposed to be. To those that chose to spend time with me. I’m sure I’ll commit some of the same sins again in the future, but this is my pledge to take back the control and try to maintain the proper focus that I should have.
Yours sincerely Jostein.