As someone with obsessive tendencies, I go through periods where I check my phone, like, a lot. Not constantly, but... OK, fine, constantly. And sometimes, especially after an IG or Twitter binge, I don't feel so great. Turns out, it might not all be in my head: Cyber sickness is real and it's already taking hold! I can barely form a coherent sentence! My brain! It's melting!
Just to be clear, cyber sickness does not actually mean your brain is melting. It does, however, mean that you might be experiencing a very 21st century form of motion sickness, and speaking as someone who gets nauseated on the subway (I know — I'm a mess), it's probably to blame for at least some of the yuckiness I've been feeling recently.
According to experts speaking recently with the New York Times, cyber sickness differs from traditional motion sickness in that with plain ol' motion sickness, your body senses the cognitive dissonance of, say, a car moving through space while the seat in front of you remains still. Cyber sickness, on the other hand, tends to occur when playing games on your phone with a high level of virtual reality. Your eyes are seeing what they perceive as your environment moving, while your body remains static.
I know! Crazy, right? And as Cosmopolitan points out, research has shown that cyber sickness is particularly icky for women who are already prone to motion sickness in general. Awesome. In that really not awesome kind of way.
But motion sickness is not the only negative side effect humans are experiencing from our intense smart phone use. Here are four more ways that your phone could be making you sick.
1. Altered Ability to React to Stimuli
You know what long-term phone use apparently is doing to us? Making us seem like we're drunk when it comes to reacting to stimuli. Which is, uh, probably bad. There have even been studies regarding possible rehabilitation strategies for recovering from long-term "virtual environment" exposure. Yikes.
2. Hearing Loss
If I'm out walking or on the train or riding my bike, there's a good chance I'm listening to Spotify or a podcast. Which, as it turns out, is really bad, since your ears are built to endure only a finite amount of sound over your lifetime. Overworking your ears can lead to a build up of scar tissue, resulting in diminished hearing and a really annoying humming sound.
3. "Text Claw"
The slightly more scientific word for ttext claw" is tendonitis — a breakdown of the soft tissue that surrounds bone and muscle, often from overuse. And yes, overuse can mean live-tweeting the weird blind date next to you at the coffee shop. If your wrist or elbow is tender to the touch after using your phone, try taking a break and icing it. You know, like what athletes do. After they do active stuff.
4. Just, Like... A TON of Infections
So basically, your phone is a walking cesspool of germs, because we are walking cesspools of germs, and we touch our phones all the time. One of the more common germs found on phones, Coliform, can cause pink eye, the flu and diarrhea. And guess where it's from? No, really. Guess.
It's fecal matter.
Did you just throw your phone across the room? Because I did.