Thursday, October 14, 2010

Are you a cellphone addict?



Earlier this week, I wrote about Alyssa Rushing, a 20-year-old college student whose mom is offering to pay her $300 if she can stay off Facebook for a month and devote that time to study. Lots of people wrote to say they didn't think anyone should have to be paid to temper their passion for social networking. That story also prompted an e-mail from Dr. Nicole Radziwill, a Charlotte native who teaches about computer technology at James Madison University.

She recently wrote a book about her own "social media addiction." She wrote that she'd been checking Twitter about 130 times a day, and checking her Droid for text or Google chat messages at least 400 times a day. By her count, that was roughly 44 minutes of every day. She even dreamed about checking Twitter in her sleep! To snap out of her compulsive checking, she imposed a 42-day social media blackout on herself earlier this year. She came to realize that, in overusing Twitter, she was subjecting herself to an "interruption-driven existence." Instead of using Twitter and Facebook to keep in touch with friends, the networks themselves -- with their constant stream of random, attention-grabbing information -- became attractions unto themselves.

The experiment led her to cut back. She checks her Droid about 50 to 75 times a day now, an amount she admits some might still see as excessive. Her experience made me wonder if the problem is less about the addictiveness of Facebook or Twitter than it is about the addictiveness of smartphones. You put your entire life into the things -- bank accounts, passwords, contacts, photos, e-mails -- and you carry it all around with you in your pocket. Having all that information and communicating power at your fingertips is ... well, irresistible. I didn't think anything of Facebook myself until I got a Blackberry and saw how easy it was to keep in touch with my friends through it.

I've never kept track of how many times I check my Blackberry. But I do know when the little notification light blinks, signaling incoming e-mail, texts, or social network data, I feel compelled to check it. (I actually put the thing in my pocket when I'm busy and need to focus, just so I can't see the blinking light). If I had to guess, I'd say I check the phone about 40-50 times a day. If I didn't use the thing for work, I'd have to wonder if maybe I had a problem...

How about you? How many times a day do you check your phone? And how much is too much?

7 comments:

Timothy Whitson said...

I personally think it's a personal choice how often to be "on the grid". I for one rarely ever get to see my friends, or son, and we have a girl at college. I wouldn't say I'm obsessed with it, but I do enjoy during down time being able to see what everyone's up to. It is also entertaining reading some of my friends/acquaintances humorous musings about work and life in general. We've got an impromptu reunion in the works Saturday thanks to the ease of letting everyone know when and where. Addicted? Maybe but I'm as comfortable with it as some folks are with their glass of wine at the end of the workday.

Susan V. Smith said...

Compelling article, Mr. Frazier. Or is it a post? I'm a 62-year old pre-post-modern female running to keep up with techno language.

In any case, cellphone addiction (or any addiction for that matter) is something that bears thinking about. Personally, I find myself becoming fragmented and irritable when I'm reading AND chatting on facebook, and our landline rings, then the cell phone rings…Anderson Cooper is talking on TV, and the dog is barking. Oh yeah...and my undemanding, sweet husband is trying to tell me something...like the house is on fire?!? He’s the one who bears the brunt of my irritability.

What is wrong with this picture?

That's why I'm limiting myself to two facebook peeks per day and concentrating on yoga. And then there's prayer and scripture which take preeminence, except I logged on facebook first thing this morning and have yet to open my bible...

John said...

0 times a day. I hardly every use my cell phone.

I don't really think it matters how much people do though. Driving drunk or talking on a cell phone while driving are of course bad since they endanger others.

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i think Alyssa Rushing should obey her mother,s order.... because its Alyssa Rushing betterness ...

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I don't blatantly think it matters what amount of folks do however. Driving tipsy or talking on a wireless while driving are obviously disagreeable forasmuch as they jeopardize others.

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