We provocatively titled our paper “homo smartphonus schizophrenicus” because the overwhelming digital attitude and perception of the people is at the antipodes of their normal native social and natural physical behavior… but with more smartphones than inhabitants and above 80% of the data accessed through those unsecured and invasive tools, this digital attitude is already changing, quickly, most people’s daily physical behaviors and social relationships.
With a PhD in Roman Archaeology obtained at the University of Lausanne a Postdoctoral Research Degree in History and Sociology at the Romanian Academy of Sciences and an EU Habilitation to direct PhDs in History and related sciences Laurent Chrzanovski is Professor at the doctoral School of the State University of Sibiu. He regularly holds postdoctoral courses within several major EU Universities. He is the author/editor of 31 books of more than a hundred scientific articles and of as many general-public articles. In the frame of cyber security Laurent Chrzanovski is member and contractual consultant of the ITU roster of experts. He founded and manages the triptych of PPP yearly congress « Cybersecurity Dialogues » (Romania, Switzerland, Italy) organized in partnership with number of international and national specialized institutions. In the same spirit and with the same partnerships, he is co-founder and editor in chief of the first free adult awareness cyber security quarterly journal, Cybersecurity Trends. His main domains of study are focused on the relationship between the human behaviors and the digital world as well as the assurance of finding the right balance between security and privacy for the e-citizens.
The decennial lack of education and culture devoted to let citizens know an “ad minima” of the digital jungle is causing what is medically defined as Schizophrenia, i.e. “a severe mental illness characterized by a disintegration of the process of thinking, of contact with reality, and of emotional responsiveness” (Oxford Concise Medical Dictionary, 9th ed., 2015). A recent research on the evolution of Technologies and, above all, of Artificial Intelligence (Rubio, Lastra 2019) highlights a total schizophrenia. On the one hand, Europeans fear new technologies, considered as an enormous challenge and needing to be controlled:”67 % of Europeans think that the governance of new technologies is, with climate change, the biggest challenge that the EU faces right now; 70 % of Europeans of all ages believe that, if they are not appropriately controlled, new technologies will cause more harm than good to society in the coming decade.”
In addition, „40 % of Europeans believe that the company they work for will disappear in the next 10 years if they do not implement deep and fast changes” and „most Europeans believe governments should intervene to limit automation and tackle negative effects on society”.
On the other hand, in a sort of total schizophrenia, “some 25 % of Europeans are somewhat or totally in favor of letting an artificial intelligence capability make important decisions about the running of their country”. Put it in another way, artificial intelligence would be right now, by far, the first political party in the Netherlands – 43% of Dutch citizens being in favor/ not against the AI option – but also in Germany, Italy or Spain if we look the percentages of the first political party in the parliament).
Worse, in a continent where you see a smartphone in each hand „68 % of Europeans are worried or very worried that people will socialize digitally more than in person”… when they are the first to behave like this. But the biggest historical, political, democratic and social disowning of all our past, from Athens to the Lumières, is that „more than 50 % of Europeans believe that political and ideological content should be banned from social networks in order to protect democracy”. In an era where the agora, the public place, the literary cafés, the philosophic and ideological debates took their “virtual” place in the digital world, and mainly in the “social media” where could a “political content” be expressed? And approved/ disapproved, criticized, commented and censored if it is a hate speech? And, by the way, what is “political” or “ideological” except some fanatic speeches in a period where all conventional parties are for decades disavowing their reason of being (socialism, liberalism, conservativism) making the same fake promises and utopic programs when an election approaches?
The roots of the disease: a short history 2013-2019
Do you remember before 2013, problems and research was focused on limiting BYOD/use of laptops for accessing non-professional content in the work environment, and personal phone rings were frowned upon for disturbing work mates?
Since the 4G invasion, everything changed. No longer do we have a phone, but a tiny ultra-powerful multimedia BYOD tool – somehow possible also to be used as a phone, holding our deepest personal and professional secrets and sharing them with the multitude of players present in the hardware and software & apps, that we chose. Everything changed. We now live in the beginning of a narcissistic and egoistic momentum of “me, now, immediately”, no matter if we are at work, at a dinner or even … in bed. This our editorial is the contrary of the core aim of the review, cybersecurity, yet it may be the founding base on which no more complete safety and security will even be possible to build, at least without extremely drastic rules and penalties in any IT personal tool use in the work environment. Back in 2016, when Jason Fried, the founder & CEO of Basecamp, spoke at Lean Startup conference, he asked the crowd “Who here can remember having 4 continuous hours to themselves at work any time in the last 5 years?” The result: “Maybe 20 or 30 people raised their hand. Out of 600+. That’s tragic. That signals brokenness all over the place. And it’s getting worse, not better. The state of that art is fucked” (Fried 2016) Today, considering the 4G to 5G incoming transition, more and more doctors, psychiatrists, behavioral specialists as well as experts in productivity and effective team collaboration consider the smartphone use and abuse as the root of one of the most important psychological changes in human history, and that we’re
just at the beginning of this new step of the „homo sapiens” evolution. In his last masterwork, Homo Stupidus Stupidus. L’agonia di una civiltà (Milano 2018), the world-known psychopathologist Vittorino Andreoli wrote without equivocation: “We are no longer giving importance to principles with the result that we are progressively plunging into barbarism. Civilization is not a foregone conclusion, but an achievement that passes through the transmission of values and behavior. Thus, from sapiens sapiens, today’s man runs the risk of becoming a “stupidus stupidus”, an easy prey to new loneliness as well as a victim of an increasingly widespread disease: digital autism.”
The masterminded (d)evil’s concept
Why are so many people becoming smartphone addicted or on their way to be? Well, the root on which all the GAFAM and the other soft, tools and app producers rely on, are just two simple and well-known cases.
First, the primary inspiration for the attractiveness of any game, then IT app or tool has been inspired by the gambling addiction success of Las Vegas, a phenomenon studied in-depth by hundreds of specialists. The savant mix of amusement, free shows, sentiment to be in a fairy city far from the domestic environment and problems, everything is done – scientifically – to bring the visitor into the casino, where other means (lights, designs, small gains, atmosphere) are there to keep him until he spent his last cent. The second research on which the whole smartphone success works, and its weirdest part, is based on a 1950’s research on rats and neuronal dopamine boosting by electrical brain stimulation (Olds and Miltner 1952). The result on male rats? Even in presence of food, water and females, they clicked up to 100 times per minute (6’000 times per hour) on the pedal generating the electrostimulation system for brain pleasure… until most of them died exhausted… Known as the “drug, sex and rock and roll” booster, dopamine can be created only by brain cells, when duly stimulated, which is the case with the multitude attractive products we already have or we can download on our smartphone (see Tank 2018 and, above all, Parkin 2018, who anticipates that Artificial Intelligence will significantly increase smartphone addiction by individual tailor-made anticipation of each person’s desires, duly set within the OS and in each app).
Able to defeat even the intimacy of our bedroom
Before speaking about the impact of addiction in business and democracy and to give the most relevant example possible of this new addiction, a recent study (Salmela, Colley, Häkkilä 2019) shows the invasion of a couple’s bed by those “smart-drugs”. The reasons of using those IT tools “under the blankets”, synthetized in the graphic below, are absurd if we think of our lives before the existence of those tools: to sleep easier and to support discussions between the two partners, at the detriment of… tenderness and sexual life.
Making us so dependent that we lose memory and intelligence just looking at them
© Ward, Duke, Gneezy, Bos 2017, Figure 1. Experiment 1: effect of randomly assigned phone location condition on available Working Memory Capacity (OSpan Score, panel A) and functional Fluid Intelligence. Participants in the “desk” condition (high salience) displayed the lowest available cognitive capacity; those in the “other room” condition (low salience) displayed the highest available cognitive capacity
Probably one of the most pertinent researches, explaining the topics we will develop further, was led by a team of the university of Chicago. Bringing some hundreds of students and non graduate citizens into three big classrooms, they were all given the same tests, basic arithmetic / memory questions and general questions requiring some basic intelligence). The participants of the first group had their smartphone set at one meter, with interdiction to grab it, the ones of the second group had their smartphone set into their pocket or bag, with interdiction to grab it, and the third was in a room with the smartphone left at a custodian outside. The graphic hereunder left us speechless and needs no comment: within the participants of the first group, the simple view of the smartphone doubled by the incapacity to grab it diminished by almost 1/2 their memory capacity and by 1/3 their “fluid intelligence” in comparison with the participants in the room without their phones.
A business performance disaster
Tolerance at work versus the disponibility of employees to be reached outside workhours turned to be a major mistake. Recently, some of the most renowned general public business magazines dedicated a whole series of articles on the companies’ losses due to the time spent by the employees with their smartphone – raising up to 4 hours per day on 8 working hours! (see for instance Akhtar 2019).
An old proposition made by scientists came back: the suggestion to educate employees to dedicate special timeslots ( „Zeitgebers”) for organizing better their personal and professional lives (Montag, Kannen, Lachmann, Sariyska, Duke, Reuter, Markowetz 2015) but this method, in nowadays individualism and lack of biorhythm and discipline hygiene, does not seem to offer quantitative successful results to fight further steps into the employees’ addiction to smart tools. Moreover, recent studies on tomorrow’s employees and leaders show a constant degradation from an increasing addiction to smartphones (Arefin, Islam, Mustafi, Islam 2017; Mosalanejad, Nikbakht, Abdollahifrad, Kalani 2019) and very dangerous effects on several individuals: changes of personality, constant increase of stress and isolation/loneliness, a phenomenon which is much more radical within adults already inserted in the work market (Ellie, Mazmanian 2013) where the smartphone “news flood” chosen by each adult may lead to conflicts with his co-workers because of the radical positions acquired by being fed by chosen “info” sources and social network acquaintances. It is worth noting that several papers indicated the very poor and contrasting arguments made on this kind of addiction until the most recent years, as most researches were made on employees’ self-assessments (see Duke, Montag 2017) or statistical samples, few of them being led during a long period of time (on the contrary of the masterpiece study by Tossell, Kortum, Shepard, Rahmati, Zhong 2015). Now, new study standards have been established (Li, Lin 2019), and a Korean university having access in PPP to governmental databases applied with success addiction statistics based on data mining, i.e. on what the persons are using as apps and how many times they spend on each (Lee, Han, Pak 2018)
Love and fear of not-understood technologies, total lack of general culture and of digital education, shortened or fake news erected as truth, individualism around “virtual friends sharing the same ideas and opinions” and total addiction to a spying tool accessory allowing phone calls… To secure all that is not a challenge, it’s a wishful thinking unless we explain what is happening, we define rules and we impose them with a consensus reached through dialogue. Or light a candle to Saint Rita, patron of the lost causes… We could not end all this but paraphrasing – what most Europeans would like to forbid in the virtual world – one of the most interesting political and ideological debates on the reform of law and allusions to God in it, Karl Marx’s “Contribution to the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Law” (1844), world-known not for its fascinating content but for the phrase “It (Religion) is the opium of the people”. We just changed the world “religion” with “the digital world” (set in bold) in Matthew Carmody’s corrected English version of the German text in 2009. Italics are kept as in the German text, as the parts that Marx wanted to emphasize. „Man makes the digital world, the digital world does not make man. Digital world is, indeed, the selfconsciousness and self-esteem of man who has either not yet won through to himself, or has already lost himself again. But man is no abstract being squatting outside the world. Man is the world of man – state, society. This state and this society produce the digital world, which is an inverted consciousness of the world, because they are an inverted world. The digital world is the general theory of this world, its encyclopedic compendium, its logic in popular form, its spiritual point d’honneur, its enthusiasm, its moral sanction, its solemn complement, and its universal basis of consolation and justification. It is the fantastic realization of the human essence since the human essence has not acquired any true reality. The struggle against the digital world is, therefore, indirectly the struggle against that world whose spiritual aroma is the digital world. The digital world addiction suffering is, at one and the same time, the expression of real suffering and a protest against real suffering. The digital world is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people. (…) Criticism has plucked the imaginary flowers on the chain not in order that man shall continue to bear that chain without fantasy or consolation, but so that he shall throw off the chain and pluck the living flower. The criticism of the digital world disillusions man, so that he will think, act, and fashion his reality like a man who has discarded his illusions and regained his senses, so that he will move around himself as his own true Sun. The digital world is only the illusory Sun which revolves around man as long as he does not revolve around himself.”
•Akhtar 2019 = Allana Akhtar, Smartphone habits that are getting in the way of your success, in BusinessInsider Apr. 21, 2019 (https:// www.businessinsider.com/smartphone-habits-that-are-ruining-yourproductivity-2018-7)
•Arefin, Islam, Mustafi, Islam 2017= Afrin Shamsul Arefin, Rafiqul Islam, Sharmina Afrin, Mohitul Ameen Ahmed Mustafi, Nazrul Islam, impact of smartphone addiction on academic performance of business students: a case study, in: Independent Journal of Management & Production (IJM&P), v. 8:3, 2017 (www.ijmp.jor.br/index.php/ijmp/article/view/629/726)
•Duke, Montag 2017 = Éilish Duke, Christian Montag, Smartphone addiction, daily interruptions and self-reported productivity, in: Addictive Behaviors Reports 2017:6, pp. 90-95 (https://www.sciencedirect.com/ science/article/pii/S2352853217300159)
•Ellie, Mazmanian 2013 = Harmon Ellie, Melissa Mazmanian , Stories of the Smartphone in Everyday Discourse: Conflict, Tension and Instability, in Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, New York: ACM, 2013 (https://ellieharmon.com/docs/ HarmonMazmanian-SmartphoneStories-CHI2013.pdf)
•Fried 2016 = Jason Fried, What’s an hour? When 15 + 15 + 15 + 15 does not equal 60, December 14, 2016 (https://m.signalvnoise.com/whatsan-hour/)
•Lee, Han, Pak 2018 = MyungSuk Lee, MuMoungCho Han and JuGeon Pak, Analysis of Behavioral Characteristics of Smartphone Addiction Using Data Mining, in Applied Sciences 2018: 8 (https://www.mdpi.com/20763417/8/7/1191/htm )
•Li, Lin 2019 = Li Li, Trisha T. C. Lin, Smartphones at Work: A Qualitative Exploration of Psychological Antecedents and Impacts of Work-Related Smartphone Dependency, in: International Journal of Qualitative Methods Volume 18: 1–12 (2019) (https://www.researchgate. net/publication/330572104_Smartphones_at_Work_A_Qualitative_ Exploration_of_Psychological_Antecedents_and_Impacts_of_WorkRelated_Smartphone_Dependency)
•Montag, Kannen, Lachmann, Sariyska, Duke, Reuter, Markowetz 2015 = Christian Montag, Christopher Kannen, Bernd Lachmann, Rayna Sariyska, Éilish Duke, Martin Reuter, Alexander Markowetz , The importance of analogue zeitgebers to reduce digital addictive tendencies in the 21st century, in: Addictive Behaviors Reports 2 (2015) 23–27 (https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2352853215000140)
•Mosalanejad, Nikbakht, Abdollahifrad, Kalani 2019 = Leili Mosalanejad, Ghazale Nikbakht, Saead Abdollahifrad, Navid Kalani, The Prevalence of Smartphone Addiction and its Relationship with Personality Traits, Loneliness and Daily Stress of Students, in Jahrom University of Medical Sciences in 2014: A Cross-sectional Analytical Study, in: Journal of Research in Medical and Dental Science 2019, Volume 7, Issue 2, Page No: 131-136 (https://www.researchgate.net/publication/332548885_The_Prevalence_of_Smartphone_Addiction_and_its_Relationship_with_Personality_Traits_Loneliness_and_Daily_Stress_of_Students_in_Jahrom_University_of_ Medical_Sciences_in_2014_A_Cross-sectional_Analytica)
•Olds, Miltner 1955 = J. Olds, P. Miltner, Positive reinforcement produced by electrical stimulation of septal area and other regions of rat brain, in Journal of Comparative and Physiological Psychology 47:6, 1955, pp. 419-427
•Parkin 2018 = Simon Parkin , Has dopamine got us hooked on tech?, in The Guardian, 4th of March 2018 (https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2018/ mar/04/has-dopamine-got-us-hooked-on-techfacebook-apps-addiction)
•Rubio, Lastra 2019 = Diego Rubio and Carlos Lastra, European Tech Insights 2019. Mapping European Attitudes to Technological Change and its Governance, Madrid: Center for the Governance of Change, 2019 (de citit pe: www.ie.edu/cgc ; download: http://docs.ie.edu/ cgc/European-Tech-Insights-2019.pdf )
•Salmela, Colley, Häkkilä 2019 = Tarja Salmela, Ashley Colley, Jonna Häkkilä, Together in Bed? Couples’ Mobile Technology Use in Bed, in Proceedings of the International Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI), (Glasgow, May 2019), New York: ACM, 2019 (https://www.researchgate.net/publication/332060502_ Together_in_Bed_Couples%27_Mobile_Technology_ Use_in_Bed)
•Tank 2018 = Aytekin Tank. Why productivity isn’t the only thing your smartphone is stealing from you, in JotForm May 24, 2018 (https://www.jotform.com/blog/ productivity-and-smartphone/)
•Tossell, Kortum, Shepard, Rahmati, Zhong 2015 =Chad Tossell, Philip Kortum, Clayton Shepard, Ahmad Rahmati, Lin Zhong, Exploring Smartphone Addiction: Insights from Long-Term Telemetric Behavioral Measures, in International Journal of Interactive Mobile Technologies Volume 9: 2 (2015), pp. 37-45 (https:// online-journals.org/index.php/i-jim/article/view/4300)
•Ward, Duke, Gneezy, Bos 2017 = Adrian F. Ward, Kristen Duke, Ayelet Gneezy, and Maarten W. Bos, Brain Drain: The Mere Presence of One’s Own Smartphone Reduces Available Cognitive, in: Journal of the Association for Consumer Research (University of Chicago), Volume 2: 2 (April 2017), „ The consumer in a connected world ” (https://www.journals.uchicago.edu/ doi/full/10.1086/691462)
Author: Laurent Chrzanovski