Some youths revolt against their cell phones!

This is well summed up by Lola Shub, one of the former teenage screenagers (of screen, screen and youth, youth) and organizer of the Luddite Club:

“Incessant use of social networks, endless scrolling, posting and selfies. Neither of us wanted to remain screenagers, but we had a hard time backing down. »

To this, we can add the cognitive impairments typical of excessive cell phone use, such as working memory saturation, reduced ability to concentrate, stress and anxiety. And the fact that if it’s teenagers who are most often affected by this addiction, it’s because they’re also in a phase of their life where they define themselves very much in relation to other people, to their network of friends. But this network is increased tenfold by Instagram, Tik Tok and other Facebook from the wonderful world of social networking. It’s not the opinion of one or two friends we’ll be looking for over lunch or between classes, but twenty or forty people giving them a “Like” every minute or ten seconds! The problem is that our brains haven’t evolved to handle so many electronic needs.

In ethology, we would call this a “supernormal” stimulus, meaning something that excites the inclinations we have for a certain type of stimulus, but by an order of magnitude that are no longer of the same size. which causes this trait to be chosen because it is useful for our survival. Another classic example of this phenomenon is our tendency towards sugar or fat, which were very useful in the low-calorie environment of our distant ancestors, but have become a health hazard in our modern environment because foods can contain so much of them. Hence the dismal success of fast food…

In returning to cell phones, some young people have become aware that they have been addicted to cell phones. They don’t always understand the “supernormal” aspects of the thing, nor the forces of old conditioning at work that compel us to repeat motions like scrolling endlessly from one issue to another, from one Like to another, from one issue to another. a gift to another… But they had enough that they were no longer their own, that their desire was hacked by their phone, to let go. Or, when it’s too difficult or there’s parental pressure to call, to turn their phone into a flip phone from the 2000s!

The reaction of young people like Lola Shub, who later found “available brain time” like never before, is reminiscent of scientists who have been whitewater rafting for a week without their computers and phones and whose impressions are in this blog post.

“All the times I used to reflexively pull out my phone — on the subway, in the grocery line, in the bathroom — are now moments of silence. For some people, this can be a problem. Being alone with your thoughts is no small thing, and I know it can be hard. But it’s also a really great thing to practice and learn. »

His other comment translates very well to the subjective state associated with what our brain does when there are no external requests: it then spontaneously adopts a default mode network configuration where it can “clear” between its past and future experiences:

“I find myself thinking about my plans for the day, or memories from five years ago, or trying to find answers to problems that are stressing me out. Whatever I was thinking about, it was far more clear and detailed than before, when my attention was immediately drawn to my phone and the time-consuming and senseless videos it offered. I found space, in all the wasted time I was getting back, to think creatively. I also started reading more and I can concentrate better. Overall, I feel that my way of thinking has improved. »

The reference to Anonymous Alcoholics at the start of this post is not ironic. Mobile phones can be an addiction for many young people in the strongest sense of the term. This is partly why members of the Luddite Club meet regularly, to support each other, discuss their difficulties achieving an adequate level of weaning, and give each other tips for making up for a “lust” moment that could resurface.

Because the best way to overcome addiction is not to aim at complete abstinence at all costs. Often feel integrated into a “living” community, with person-to-person, face-to-face human connections. Without, of course, sinking to the other extreme of the disembodied social stimuli often bolstered by an existential emptiness. A void skillfully defended by a consumer society that convinces you from the cradle that your happiness lies in the latest version… iPhone, to be precise! And we return to the wisdom required of the people of Ludd…

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