This title is somewhat deceptive in that it suggests Depression might correlate to Smartphone usage solely as opposed to tech generally. Both are affecting our sense of alienation from the real world and leading to increases in Depression and the outcome of Depression at times being suicide. However, the Smartphone can be related to this more specifically as it is so invasive and with us at all times.
There are basically two types of depression: reactive and clinical depression. Reactive depression might be considered more normal as it is a case where you get depressed in reaction to an event like a death of a loved one or loss of your job. However, reactive depressions can convert to clinical depressions if the symptoms last too long and we don’t apply coping strategies. A clinical depression is marked by its length, symptoms and the types of treatments that maybe necessary to pull someone out of the depression.
Requirements for a Healthier Lifestyle
Clinical depression is what we will be mainly addressing. There are factors that can lead to such a depression such as our genetics, quality of our lifestyle, feelings of adequacy and the like. The Smartphone, since it is always with us and we may even get addicted to it, is very invasive. It has a direct qualitative impact to the way we live.
As Humans we need to feel connected and that our lives have some kind of meaning. Smartphones alter our style of relating to the external world not by connecting us more but by isolating us from the world. The more we disconnect or feel isolated, meaning and purpose are affected. All of these qualitative aspects can drive even the most cheery into a depression.
Instead of healthy social interactions we begin to have unhealthy virtual interactions. These virtual interactions are qualitatively not like the real social interactions of the past. We not only see a decline in consequential social interactions but at the same time we begin to be deluged by information and a plethora of meaningless interactions. We might think they mean something but at the deeper level we begin responding as if they don’t because they cannot replace true socializing experiences.
Depression on the Increase Along with Suicide
Depression is on the increase world wide a long with suicide. There is little more debilitating than depression. Due to the hopeless state that often accompanies depression, suicide seems like the only answer.
Depression can have genetic correspondents but for humans to be healthy mentally in society they need social components that go with life. Historically, we started out as very tribal in nature and we worked together to secure ourselves. This form of attachment has never left us.
In our tribal ways we were very social; talking and working with each other to survive. Even if you go back to England of the 1700 hundreds it was a country of villages and few went more than 30 miles from their village. This accounts for the 30 or so accents in England.
Industrialism changed this as people moved into the cities but they maintained social interactions but the quality was taking on a different form.
Now as we are in the midst of the information revolution, with all our technologies providing quick connections into a virtual world some are misconstruing numerous friends on Facebook or their level of hits with quality social interaction yet nothing could be further from the truth. In our new isolation wanting to belong to something, we reach out on our Smartphones to be left with a vague feeling of emptiness.
As addiction takes over, all the problems of addiction accompany our new found friend who we feel uneasy if we’re without. Slowly another new found friend pushes in but it is depression yet it is not reactive depression.
We know that the brain rewires itself, so to speak, around sequences. The brain will rewire itself around depression and all the prozac of this world cannot defeat this. Behavioural change have to follow again with all its uncomfortableness to break out of the depression. Medication is often required to lift a person to the point though that they can do something.
Tech is Here to Stay
Tech is here to stay that is clear. It is part of the fabric of society. We could not decide we don’t want it and then rip it out. Nothing would work any longer. It doesn’t mean if there was some calamity we wouldn’t be able to figure it out. However, as long as there’s not and its integral to personal and societal function it is here.
If though tech is affecting our mental health and more specifically causing depression what do we do. The French philosopher and Sociologist Jacques Ellul saw things like this as Techniques and when a Techniques began to dominate negatively such as our new war machines of the twentieth century we developed techniques to contain them. Once the atom bomb was developed we had no choice unless we wanted to go on to mutual self destruction. This no one was keen on and except for the two bombs dropped on Japan in the Second World War they were never used again at least hostily.
Simple countervailing techniques have emerged in which it is becoming socially unacceptable to use our cellphones at the dinner table. However, this though a given rule isn’t held to 100%.
How do you get to the addicted that use their cellphones as if they were the object of a new religion. That is, people in private incessantly use the devices or fuss about the devices and buy them uncontrollably. Are treatment centres an option or society shames the excessive cellphone user like the alcoholic.
The Answer Hasn’t Arrived
This article is for thought. We cannot remove Smartphones as they are part of the fabric of society. They allow us to do so much. However, if they were just used as a tool to get things done that would be one thing but we know this isn’t the case.
Cellphone use that is abnormal will begin a destructive process say in the family, with children, with socializing and socialization and when we put this together clearly steps will ensue to try to help the obsessed.
This is to come. Smartphones are not alcohol but they can have the same destructive aspects to them. Depression is no fun. Suicide is a waste. These outcomes as the links are drawn back to the Smartphone won’t be acceptable costs. Eventually measures will develop to help the encumbered. So far the efforts are trivial. Monitoring cellphone usage and telling the person to escape for a bit of time daily is a waste to the compelled. Their brain may be re-wired.
No it will take far more than this to get control of the devices for the persons own good. As an alcoholic must reach out for help so too does the depressed, addicted Smartphone user. If they don’t they will be seen merely as geeks or Smart because they use a Smartphone. However, when the individual is despondent and especially if they are a parent there will be little way to ignore causal effects. At some point we will embrace techniques to assist with the problem but till then we need to expose it further and build the research. Through understanding only then will we be able to tackle the issue.