It’s become a compulsion, an irresistible and growing addiction that edges humanity closer to oblivion. While the world passes us by, we can’t help but check our smartphones, scrubbing through social networks, websites, and whatever else grabs our attention. It’s gotten so bad that we need to be reminded not to use our phones in crowded movie theaters.
Now, out comes a story from the New York Times that proves nobody is safe from our crushing dependency on the humble smartphone. In it, grown men and handsomely paid athletes discuss how they often check their phones in the middle of games. Rather than discuss strategy or bond with teammates, the NYT says NBA players often find themselves swiping through smartphone notifications as if they’re at home just hanging out.
One player, Spencer Hawes of the Charlotte Hornets, described the new halftime ritual as “habitual.” “What do you do when you’ve been away from your phone in any situation? You come in, check it, check if anyone texted you. I think halftime is kind of no different.”
Recent data shows that it isn’t just athletes who are hooked. As pointed out by the NYT, a Gallup poll in 2015 found that 73 percent of Americans ages 18 to 29 checked their smartphone a few times an hour; a recent Apple report found that iPhone users unlock their device 80 times a day. It’s verging on obsession.
Again, it’s not just NBA players who are afflicted by the smartphone bug. A report from across the pond earlier this month quoted Southhampton manager Ronald Koeman as saying younger athletes today live a different lifestyle as the result of social media. Now that Facebook’s bots are here, who knows what our communication skills will be like in ten years.
Here is perhaps the definitive quote from the NYT’s story:
“I’m not perfect,” said the Knicks’ Kevin Seraphin. “I love social networks.”