How smartphones and virtual communication networks create a schizophrenia-like state

Many people spend more time staring at screens than interacting with the real world. Hour after hour, day after day, it is only eyes and ears that serve as input, and mouth and fingers that act as output.

In the words of author Matthew Walker, we are a population whose “thoughts are somewhere else than our bodies and conscience”.

In this video, the Academy of Ideas explores how the use of excessive screen-based technologies, be it television, computer, smartphone or virtual communication networks, decouples us from our body and conscience, and makes us experience the world in a schizophrenic way.

The distinction between conscience and body is an artificial dichotomy. The continuity of nature knows nothing of these contradictory distinctions, as the human intellect is a tool for understanding.”

In optimal health, we are firmly rooted in our body, and our body and conscience are experienced as uniform phenomena, and not as separate units.

However, the connection between the body and the conscience can be broken, and if so, we say that one is “disembodied”.

In the state of disembodiment, instead of being firmly rooted in our body, we feel alienated from it, and we tend not to consider the body as an integral part of ourselves, but as a thing or a collection of things that we carry around with us.

Screen-based technologies have changed the way we perceive the senses in our society in a way that promotes disembodiment.

These technologies have put us on a path where seeing dominates all other senses.

In other words, we have become an eye-centered society, and as Giovanni Stanghellini and Louis Sass explain in their essay The Bracketing of Presence:

In an eye-centered [or vision-centered] society, the person not only becomes a passive recipient of images from the media; relationships between people are also increasingly conveyed through images, even produced by them.”

The other becomes a picture for me – and I, a picture for the other. In such a society, the more embodied, participatory and immersed types of visual experiences are replaced by passive forms of seeing: a disembodied observation of mere images and representations.”

Social interactions no longer take place primarily between men and women from flesh and blood, as has been the case almost throughout human history.

Today, images, videos, lines of text and emojis are the disembodied forms of representation that determine many of our relationships.


May 13, 2023


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