If you’re part of the 36% of the world population that accesses a smart phone regularly (extra points if you’re on your phone or tablet right now), you may find at times that it can be an addicting experience. Whether you’re binging the latest episode of your favorite show from your device, you’re surfing Facebook and have the urge to post that delicious looking lunch sitting in front of you, or even if you’re simply following along with your favorite artist on Instagram as they reveal the methods behind their madness, experts agree that many of the attributes of social media ignite similar responses in our brains that match the response of addicts feeding their addiction.
The big question is: can social media addiction actually be harmful? In the scope of life, social media has only been around for a very, very short amount of time, and not quite enough time has passed to know the long-term, lasting effects that can be a result of ‘too much social media’ or some category of social media addiction.
Klemens Schillinger is the renowned Austrian designer who has come to rescue us from our inevitable social media rehab. The Vienna-based minimalist designer has released his newest creation: a therapeutic smartphone replacement. The anti-device, dubbed ‘The Substitute Phone’, is shaped just like our familiar kryptonite-esque smartphones, but with very minimal capabilities. For starters, there’s no internet, no apps, and no actual technology associated with the product. It features a row of stone beads that are aligned in various patterns, which are designed to mimic our typical smartphone motions such as swiping, scrolling, and zooming.
By focusing the design on the physical stimulation one may get from interacting with a smartphone, Schillinger hopes his creation can be used to help frequent smartphone users cope with symptoms of withdrawal, or even to cut down on the amount of time the spend on their actual devices. When asked about the inspiration behind the innovative product, Schillinger explains, “We check emails and messages not only on public transport but also in social situations, for example when having drinks with friends. More and more often one feels the urge to check their phone, even if you are not expecting a specific message or call. These observations inspired the idea of making a tool that would help stop this ‘checking’ behavior.”
While it’s too soon to know if the product is an affect means of combating addictive behaviors associated with social media, many are abuzz with hope that Schillinger’s designs could ignite an anti-social media revolution.