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  • Writer's pictureChoice Recovery

Is Your Phone a Character Defect?

Below is an excerpt from one of Simon Sinek’s YouTube videos titled “Why Are Millennials So Difficult to Manage?” Forget the word millennial in the title, as this subject relates to most of us. Do you pick up your phone before you speak to anyone in the morning or even get out of bed? How about when in a group of friends, at dinner, or when you are uncomfortable? Be honest, a few of these sounds a bit too familiar, don’t they?

Excerpt from Mr. Sinek’s video:

If you are sitting at dinner with your friends, and you are texting somebody who is not there – that’s a problem. That’s an addiction. If you are sitting in a meeting with people you are supposed to be listening and speaking to, and you put your phone on the table, that sends a subconscious message to the room “you’re just not that important.” The fact that you can’t put the phone away that’s because you are addicted. If you wake up and you check your phone before you say good morning to your girlfriend, boyfriend, or spouse, you have an addiction. And like all addictions, in time, it will destroy relationships, it will cost time, it will cost money, and it will make your life worse.

He continues:

So, when significant stress begins to show up in their lives, they’re not turning to a person, they’re turning to a device, they’re turning to social media, they’re turning to these things which offer temporary relief. [The] science is clear; we know that people who spend more time on social media suffer higher rates of depression than people who spend less time on social media.

We know that engagement with social media and our cell phones releases a chemical called dopamine. That’s why when you get a text, it feels good. In a 2012 study, Harvard research scientists reported that talking about oneself through social media activates a pleasure sensation in the brain usually associated with food, money, and sex. It’s why we count the likes. It’s why we go back ten times to see if the interaction is growing. And if our Instagram is slowing, we wonder if we have done something wrong or if people don’t like us anymore.

The reality is millennials are far from unique in our culture when it comes to cell phone addiction and social media addiction. Sadly, they don’t own this character defect; many of us do. More and more at restaurants, in the rooms of recovery, and social settings as you look around you will see people staring at their phones in silence rather than engaging with those sitting with them. How about when the phone vibrates or notifies a message has been received when in the car? When someone is willing to risk their own life and others to check a social media post while driving, they may have a serious problem.

The research shows that when people disengage from social media for a sustained period of time (like a month), they often have feedback such as…

  • I never missed it. I felt more relaxed and less self-conscience not logging in multiple times a day.

  • I only realized how dependent I was on social media once I took a break from it.

  • I realized I was intimidated by the filtered photos and false realities put in front of me. They made me feel not as good, pretty, successful, body positive.

  • I stopped suffering from FOMO

Consider the following…give yourself a break from social media or other useless phone stuff. Try a week. Can you do it? When you feel that urge to get back in, use your coping skills and acknowledge that this is your mind trying to escape rather than having the courage to accept/address the feelings you are having. Instead of picking up the phone, find something more productive, engage in something that can strengthen your life and recovery. Recognize who is present or what is happening around you that deserves attention. Give yourself the opportunity to communicate, confront uncomfortable feeling, and enjoy living life. What would happen if we never saw that TikTok video with a million followers? Ask someone who doesn’t follow TikTok, and they’ll tell you - absolutely nothing.


Choice Recovery is an IOP in Mesa, Arizona that serves the Chandler, Gilbert, Scottsdale and Phoenix communities. Choice Recover offers in person and telehealth IOP and other mental health and addiction treatments. The Choice Recovery team is a dedicated and experienced group of individuals who want to support people struggling with the disease of addiction.

Choice Recovery accepts most major insurance plans, including AHCCCS insurance like Mercy Care, United Healthcare, Banner University, and AZ Complete Health. We offer morning and evening IOP as well as telehealth IOP. For more information on our evidence-based, whole-body care, please call us at 480-527-0337 or email us at


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