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Flatiron Hot! News | July 23, 2017

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How Cellphone Games Rot Our Brains, Poison Our Souls and Ruin Society

How Cellphone Games Rot Our Brains, Poison Our Souls and Ruin Society
Eric Shapiro

Cellphone games are evil. Well, maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but not as much as you might think. First and foremost, they deprive us of an ostensibly unpleasant activity: doing nothing. Waiting. A lot of good things happen when our minds are free of distracting stimuli. Boredom gives us a chance to contemplate the world around us. To observe people. To observe the beauty of our planet. To experience our emotions and organize our thoughts. To tie our shoes before we slip and break our legs, at great financial cost due to crappy healthcare. Hell, we can even talk to a stranger, something all too rare in places like New York City.

Sometimes doing nothing provides leads to brilliant ideas. Sure, Newton wasn’t really sitting under an apple tree when a plummeting fruit prompted him to “discover” gravity. But the concept is apt. It’s become a cliché to say that technology is turning us into mindless automatons. Modernists were obsessed with this concept, and it’s persisted in various forms up until the present day. It’s so widespread in pop culture and pop philosophy that it’s easy to overlook the important reality that we are, in fact, becoming mindless automatons.

Cellphone games are not in and of themselves harmful. Some are ingeniously crafted, even aesthetically beautiful. There are probably studies out there about how they improve hand-eye coordination and various other functions. But ultimately, the bad outweighs the good. The human mind is simply not meant to be occupied all the time. Technology has progressed, but our bodies are still the same as they were when we were running around in loincloths and praying to the sun. How can cellphone games and similar activities possibly be healthy, especially for children whose brains are still developing?

Candy Crush 3

On the surface, cellphone games are harmless They don’t give us lung cancer like cigarettes or rot our livers like alcohol. But I’ll make a bold statement: cellphone games and what they represent are more harmful to society than any physical threats. In our vanity, we expend limitless effort seeking to extend our lives. But that shouldn’t be our biggest priority. In the end, mankind doesn’t suffer if people die a little earlier, as we’re meant to. To point this out isn’t to condone hedonism or unhealthy living, only to place them in context. We truly suffer when we lose our capacity to think critically and observe the world around us. People are more ignorant about politics and history than ever before. We are largely unaware of how our political systems work and how they are being corrupted. People choose apathy over voting because “the system” is incomprehensible to them and they’d rather remain in a bubble than ponder the world they’re leaving for their children. Think: climate change.

Is it so outlandish to speculate that our addiction to cellphone games and similar mind-numbing activities plays some role in our lack of engagement with the world? In a couple of hundred years, we may well resemble the human beings from Wall-E. That is, if we last that long.

We always talk about how busy we are, about how we don’t have time for anything due to the frantic pace of modern life. “I don’t have time to keep up with the news,” people say. “I don’t have time to work out.” “I don’t have time to have a pet.” “I don’t have time to call my dear old grandma.” “I don’t have time to pray.” “I don’t have time to take my kids to the playground.” “I don’t have time to walk my dog, better call the dog-walker.” But the truth is, we do have the time. We’re just wasting it playing Candy Crush.