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ChangingMinds Blog! > Blog Archive > 22-Mar-18


Sunday 22-April-18

Why do we keep touching our phones?

Do you ever unconsciously pick up your phone when you have no real need? Perhaps you turn it on and stare at social media or the news, even though you did this just a few minutes ago. Maybe you play with it in your hands, then wonder why you are doing this and put it down again.

What is this all about? Why do we fidget, fondle and fixate on our phones? A good place to start is worth how it makes us feel.

First, it can be a calming action, touching something familiar to assuage discomfort. Like a child with a comfort blanket or toy, making tactile contact with something that is associated with pleasure reawakens that good feeling. If this is true, then makers of phones and their cases should think long and hard about this touch sensation.

Another reason is the buzz of anticipation. When the phone arouses us, whether through games, social contact or interesting news, we associate it with this stimulation and any connection, even looking at it, will start to feel that pleasure even before it begins. For App writers, this suggests 'leave them wanting more.

When it is an arbiter of success at work, the phone may need constant attention as we respond in real time to requests for our ever-shrinking time. When this includes calls from angry or demanding bosses. Someone once said that heaven is anywhere and any time, yet hell is everywhere and every time. In this way, phones can be objects of fear that constantly enslave us.

And again, it can simply be the stimulating arousal of the act. Pleasure peaks when we get our first bite of chocolate and first sight of someone liking our post or shock at the latest headlines. Even bad news is better than boredom. This peaking leads us to consume in bite-sized chunks. Turning on, grazing, and turning off. The doing it again and again.

In practice, all of these reasons and more may drive our obsessive snatching up of this insidious device. It serves many purposes, but makes us servants in return. The challenge, then, is to take back control, consciously and deliberately realizing what is happening and taking a stand against it.

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