Recently on an episode of Nicole Richie’s hilarious VH1 reality show, Candidly Nicole, I moderated a group therapy session for people addicted to their iPhones. While the scene (watch it below) was a humorous look at all the ways that cell phone use can become dysfunctional — users admitting to using while in church, at funerals, while riding bikes, and while having sex — there is a dark truth in the comedy.
We know that cell phones and the internet are hurting our relationships. Digital communication has replaced talking and internet dating sites, with their buffet of romantic choices, have created a kind of Love A.D.D. But, aside from our intimate relationships, our iPhones have created a new kind of anxiety, one that bubbles up when our phones are powered down and our human desire for attachment distorts us into thinking a cell phone is a secure attachment figure. There’s even a pop culture term for this anxiety: FOMO — fear of missing out.
But if we are to psychologically survive as humans, we must program or be programmed. And, like our cravings for salt, sugar, fat, and even sex, the fittest will survive. And being fit means having an ability to self regulate. To control ourselves. Is a cell phone addiction real? Well, it isn’t a fully identified diagnosis…yet. But if your cell phone use has even one of the criteria listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders for substance abuse, then, yes, you are addicted to tech. Check the list below. I changed the word “substance” to “technology.”
1. Failure to fulfill major role obligations at work, school, home such as repeated absences or poor work performance related to technology use; technology-related absences, suspensions, or expulsions from school; neglect of children or household
2. Frequent use of technology in situations in which it is physically hazardous (e.g., driving an automobile or operating a machine when using technology)
3. Frequent legal problems (e.g. arrests, disorderly conduct) for substance technology use.
4. Continued use despite having persistent or recurrent social or interpersonal problems (e.g., arguments with spouse about consequences of technology use)
Now, to make light of a sometimes, serious subject, here’s my therapy session with Nicole Richie on VH1′s Candidly Nicole.