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Nick Garbalau
Nick Garbalau

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Digital Withdrawal

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic” - Arthur C. Clarke

Technology has brought a lot of good things to our world. It allows us to solve our problems and communicate with each other more effectively. By the way, technology also created some problems, that we only learn to identify and overcome. I think it is time to take our Internet usage serious and analyse how did it all develop and what did it lead to.


Back then, when the telephone was not yet an all-powerful machine, it was necessary to sit down at the computer to learn something new, chat with friends, work or just play. It created some kind of psychological bubble. We knew that there was a place in a room and specific equipment to access the Internet. This routine more or less separated the real and virtual worlds, at least at the level of human perception.

Today, or rather over the past few years, everything changed.
According to this data, the current number of smartphone users in the world today is 6.648 billion, and this means 83.72% of the world's population owns a smartphone.

How this happened?

It started mainly when using a smartphone became possible to interact with Web no worse than on a computer, which brought down the personal PC sales market. PC is now taking a segment of education, science, office work, and expensive gaming. Suddenly it turned out that it is much more convenient to get and use a smartphone, and be online anywhere and anytime.

How we use our smartphones

The telephone, by nature, is a device for communication, but it turns out that we spend more time with our phones than we actually need. Everything lies in adding the word "smart" to the word "phone".

The modern smartphone is a Swiss Army knife.

You don't need a watch anymore to tell the time or start a timer. You don't need to buy books and keep them on the shelf. Likewise, you don't need to worry about when to wake up or go to sleep. You don't need to go shopping anymore, you can do it on your bed.

Any smartphone user gets such functionality, and it changes his life and attitude to life.

Sounds good, it seems that now a lot of free time will be freed up and it will be possible to devote it to some useful things, self-development, travel and hobbies. But not everyone is given to spend this time in this way. Everything is a little more complicated.

You have to move less. You don't need to write by hand anymore. Furthermore, you no longer need to remember anything because you have notes and reminders. Now, the phone will do it all for you. And this is where the problems begin.

Since most of the tasks, routines, desires and thoughts are connected in one way or another with the use of a smartphone, it has become the best companion for many of us. It even snuck into our bedroom.

According to statistics, 93% of young people admit to using their phones on the bathroom, which not only does not provide at least a small relief for the brain, but in theory it may not be hygienic at all.

Many of us do not imagine eating in silence. The phone is our companion there too. We eat and watch YouTube videos. We take a shower while our smartphone is playing favourite Kanye West's album.

Because of the power of phone, many people have blurred the line - virtual or real world. These words even now look archaic, but in fact - their meaning has not been distorted, but on the contrary, it is clearer than ever. We don't have that bubble anymore, we are always in the bubble.

We are spending more and more time online. From time, we wake up to start checking our mail and scrolling through Twitter till the night when we choose under what scientific lecture will we fall asleep.

Our brain observes an eternal and endless stream of diverse (in this context, this is not very good) and almost always completely unnecessary information. Annoying messages, notifications, hundreds of videos packed in "Watch later" folder, noisy reminders and much more - does not give the brain a rest.

When depression and anxiety kick in, this is hard to ignore.

Somehow, we manage to reuse technology to the extent that it causes short-term and sometimes long-term changes in our brain.

I love watching documentaries on YouTube and consider it a form of convenient self-education, but when I do it all day, it's not so good anymore. It’s hard for YouTube to let you go to sleep, its ingenious algorithms and recommendations keep you as long as possible and constantly offer you to watch something else. Calling you FOMO, YouTube constantly suppresses it right there, and it seems that this is very convenient.

We force ourselves to think that the phone is needed every day and every minute, we do not part with it until morning and night. For $200 - $300 you can buy yourself pocket window into the virtual world.

YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, TikTok have created a world-class bubble. It may seem that you are not participating in the bubble - you are missing the most important events in the world. Most influencers have been broadcasting there, only tying people even more with these platforms, creating things like FOMO and social addictions.

The role of technology

I don't want you to think I'm against technology. I am a programmer with 4 years of experience, and I grew up surrounded by technology. Unfortunately, information technology is one of the few industries that can pull other industries, bringing innovation and automation to them.

Technology has allowed us to make leaps in progress, we have improved communication, developed industry and medicine, and made sure that every person on Earth can be heard. When technology is used for good, it's the best it can be.

Depression, FOMO, wasting your valuable time on social media, losing touch with the real world, and losing the qualities and skills that are inherent in life in the real world - this is the real problem. This is not so much a technology problem as it is a problem for ourselves. This is how a person works and this is how his psyche is arranged.

Everything in the Universe strives for peace and balance. I think if we find the same balance in our use of technology, we'll do well, and we'll be able to outgrow these side effects.

We need to minimise our time on the Internet, then every minute there will be more valuable and used for really important things. If you have 5 hours a day to check mail and correspondence, you will spend 5 hours on this. If you have 30 minutes after breakfast and 30 minutes after dinner, then you will carry out these operations much more efficiently and quickly.

I am a big fan of YouTube platform, and I enjoy using Twitter, I just think we need a balance in using these social networks. There should always be a goal and an answer why you are online right now.

Find what suits you, create your own rules for using phones, get off unnecessary networks and remove unnecessary applications. You can also learn the philosophy of Digital Minimalism. If interested, you can take a look a this book

Use the Internet for self-education, creating projects and start-ups, work and have fun, communicating with people, and brining ideas to life, that's what all this was created for.

And finally, just imagine if the whole world were to disconnect from the network at one moment, what would happen?

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