‘I Love My Phone So Much I Wish I Could Stare at It More’ businessinsider.com

Katie Notopoulos, Business Insider:

But then there’s the other, more existential argument against phones: We are spending all our free moments with a screen shoved in our faces, mindlessly scrolling for dopamine and ignoring the world around us. Time spent on your phone is bad; time spent doing anything else is good.

This argument I just can’t get on board with. I love mindless scrolling; I find it immensely enjoyable. I love flipping through TikTok, browsing tweets, poking around Reddit. I’ll pop into the group chat. Maybe if I have some extra time, I’ll go to my happy place and watch some movie trailers on YouTube.

I thought this was a good rebuttal to the seemingly constant moral panic over how much we use screens. Notopoulos is careful to disclaim she is writing as an adult “with a fully formed frontal lobe” and this advice probably does not apply in the same way to children.

I do not think we should consider this kind of debate settled one way or another. I think it is reasonable to ask whether it is a good idea for everybody to carry everywhere a slot machine for their feelings. Social media platforms are incentivized to increase time spent and user retention, which they can juice by making nicer products and through sneaky design patterns. It seems like grounds to worry about phone use if it is impacting other aspects of one’s life, like if they are forgetting to take care of themselves or do household tasks because they spend so much time on their phone.

But if you reading on your phone instead of reading a newspaper, or watching a YouTube video instead of watching a show on TV, what are you actually doing differently? Those seem like interchangeable activities.