The question asked at the beginning of the first of these two articles is closely tied to the overarching point made in the second article: how negative are the effects on people’s health of having constant notifications popping up on their phones demanding their attention?
The answer, of course, is extremely negative! The first article, whilst also mentioning the psychological effects of constant phone use, focuses on the endless engagement some people now have with the 24/7 news cycle – something that has never before been possible in human history.
Although meaningful engagement with the news and an insight into current affairs and events can encourage active participation in society, and it is considered one source of knowledge about the world, the reality is that some people are becoming consumed by the news, rather than just being consumers of the news.
People’s lives and other interests have become eclipsed by the news, so now people do not just take an active interest in keeping up to date with what is happening in the world, they are constantly compelled to check what is happening every couple of minutes, simply because of the tech devices they have surrounded themselves with.
This type of addiction to news updates would be severe enough on its own, however, the physical response that our bodies go through, particularly in the release of the hormone cortisol because of the unrelenting connectedness we are subjected to when carrying our phones, makes the health-degrading and potentially lifespan-decreasing consequences much more dire.
The examples provided in the second piece are ones that most people can probably relate to directly with personal experience, such as the persistent sense of foreboding that a message you receive might be from your boss or co-workers demanding attention to some work-related task, or perhaps it could be bad news – either about the world in general, or, more personally from one of your friends and family.
This kind of hypersensitivity is unsustainable in the long-term, and humans will not evolve quickly enough to negate the detrimental effects that shorten our lifespans. So, what is the takeaway from these two articles and the growing body of evidence pointing to the extremely harmful physical and psychological effects of continuous or frequent phone-checking?
The starting point is to enforce breaks and limits by setting aside dedicated technology-free spaces and time. If you want to regain your sanity, and break free from the addiction and control that your devices have surreptitiously taken of your life, you need to set your own boundaries and stick to them.