I’m being manipulated by my smartphone every day

The Yomiuri ShimbunDear Troubleshooter:

I’m a female high school student. When I wake up every morning, I have to check social media sites on my smartphone. The habit has become ingrained in me.

When I do, it’s only to get meaningless updates on my friends — not catch up on politics or other much more important things. I’m really aware of that, but I just can’t stop doing it.

I was really shocked when a teacher at my school said: “You may think you’re manipulating your smartphone. But in fact, you’re being manipulated by the gadget.” It’s true smartphones are useful, but I feel as if using it so much could make me stop thinking on my own.

In fact, once I needed more than two hours to write a single letter by hand. I think it happened because I’m so used to using social media, which allows us to write more casual texts.

Despite the teacher’s comment and my self-reflection afterward, I found myself again checking social media sites like I usually do the very next morning. I know I’m afraid of losing my connections with others.

How can I stop this?

U, Saitama Prefecture

Dear Ms. U:

Social media seems to be widely open to the global community, but in reality, users with similar opinions end up forming isolated communities, according to an internet-savvy journalist.

On the other hand, many of us are unwilling to sever links with others that we’ve established thanks to these services. Even if you decide not to check the sites after 9 p.m. or otherwise regulate your usage, you may find yourself soon breaking your vows. To tell you the truth, I’m one such person.

I’m so weak-willed that I’m not certain if I can convince you of anything, but I think it’s important for us to have an objective look at ourselves as smartphone users. You’ve obviously taken the first step toward this attitude because you came to reflect on your actions thanks to your teacher’s comment and sent a letter to this column.

People can mature by learning ideas and viewpoints that are different from our own. I suggest you work to broaden your connections, rather than severing them.

It is an advantage for a social media platform to enable us to build loose, optional relationships. Clever users can casually write, “OK I’m going to stop using this now. Peace out,” whenever they want to stop using online communications.

Today, social media is not an extraordinary world any more. It is very natural for us to greet each other or have long, deep talks in our daily lives.

I’ve got an idea. Why don’t you bring up this matter on your social media sites as a topic for discussions? I believe you will find out many others have similar problems.

Hazuki Saisho, writer

(from July 31, 2017, issue)Speech

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