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Why the rich and famous are unhappy

More from Ora: Why the rich and famous are unhappy

Are our phones making us feel worse?

Larry King NowJan 16 '17

As part of a larger discussion about finding happiness in 2017, Pico Iyer and Mitra Rahbar discuss the unintended consequences of our dependency on our phones, and the limits of the massive amounts of data we consume on a daily basis.


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Larry King: How about all the research now on the menace of the iPhone? The bad things about people not talking to each other, engrossed in it, texting while driving. You ever see people when they can’t find their cell phone? It’s panic. It’s why I don’t – I have a flip phone.

Mitra Rahbar: It’s a kind of, new disease of our society, to not want to engage with another and instead want to, kind of, put this wall up so there’s always – even people, young people tell me ‘we don’t call, we only text.’ So that means, implying that, don’t call. So I think – I’m hoping, being optimistic, that this is a fad in our society. I’m hoping that as we come together more, and the government’s…

Larry King: And how does that happen if more people get iPhones?

Pico Iyer: Each of us has a choice.

Mitra Rahbar: Yes.

Pico Iyer: So I’m a busy journalist, I’ve never used a cell phone in my life. And I think what we’re noticing is that there’s more and more knowledge in the world and less and less wisdom.

Mitra Rahbar: Yes.

Pico Iyer: I mean, everyone watching this program is going to take in more data today than Shakespeare did in his entire lifetime. Does that mean we are wiser than Shakespeare, or know more? I think it means we know less, in many cases. We have more and more data, and less and less time to make sense of it.

Larry King: A study at Kent State found that people who check their phone frequently tend to experience more distress during leisure time.

Pico Iyer: Yes.

Mitra Rahbar: Yes. Because they –

Larry King: But everyone who has it, checks it frequently. Right?

Pico Iyer: So in places like China they actually have internet rescue camps where they administer cold turkey to kids, the way… to get them off cell phones the way they would be off heroin. But I think we, I think the great thing about this is it’s in our hands. Any one of us can choose – just take three hours away from your devices or ideally one day. And I’m struck, when I go to Silicon Valley, the people who make the technologies are the ones who are most wise about the limits for it. So they often go totally offline for 48 hours.

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