Original Illustration by Stephanie DeAngelis
Kanye West is the most recent addition to the lineup of celebrities choosing to ditch their smartphones. Claiming he needs more “air to create,” the designer and hip-hop mogul recently announced his “digital detox” plan yesterday via his favorite mode of communication: Twitter. His simple, 49-character declaration—“I got rid of my phone so I can have air to create”—garnered 90,000 likes and 32,000 retweets in just one day.
While we can’t say we’re on board with all of West’s decisions, this one may hold some merit. Having tested out the phone-less life before (for a full 40 days, no less), there are definite upsides to traveling back in time to the ’90s when you only communicated via landline—creativity being just one of them. By connecting users across oceans, continents, and the interwebs, smartphones in turn disconnect you from the people standing right in front of you.
It’s my belief that cell phones are more than just handheld devices used to facilitate group chats and Instagram likes—they’re psychologically potent, capable of increasing stress levels, exacerbating sleeplessness, and creating a harmful culture of comparison (hello, FOMO). I’d also argue that, despite dating apps and relationship websites, smartphones play a role in what can only be described as Gen Y’s abnormal sexlessness and other social anxieties. Los Angeles Times even explained this statistic as “a culture of overwork and an obsession with career status, a fear of becoming emotionally involved and losing control, an online-dating milieu that privileges physical appearance above all, anxieties surrounding consent, and an uptick in the use of libido-busting antidepressants.” If that’s not a reason to give a digital detox a try, I’m not sure what is.
Would you do a digital detox? Chronicle your experience in this Trellis Journal, and share your thoughts below.