Some initial thoughts on “screen sickness” – a new form of “mis-adaption” and “mis-growth” – conflicts with the real world

Here’s a thought I had:

There is something which I call “screen sickness”.  This can be described as a condition where people begin to live through some form of a “screen”.  In other words, the “screen” creates a new world that is lived in. 

This is becoming an increasing problems nowadays.  It has qualities such as:

  • The “screen” becomes the focus of their life and the center of their life.   Its as if life is determined only in relation to what is on the “screen”.  In this way, the “screen” becomes like a “measuring stick” of their life.
  • What is on the screen dictates, determines, and affects their point of views, beliefs, and actions in life.  In many cases, they can’t make a move without the “screen”.
  • The actions that dictate what constitutes “life” is found on the screen.  Actual real life is minimally seen as life or not at all.


The “screen” is primarily a flat screen with moving images on it. It is a creation of the electronic world.  This includes the cathode ray tube, plasma screens, touch screens, and so on.

There are several forms of a “screen”:

  • The passive screen. With this screen a person watches and does nothing more. As a result, a person is primarily an observer.
  • The active screen. With this screen they do some action which somehow affects the image on the screen.  In this way, a person participates with what’s on the screen.

Naturally, the active screen tends to have more impact on “a person as it draws them in”.  As a result of this, it is more impactful and is more likely to cause an addiction and dependency.

The “screen” can manifest life in a number of ways:

  • As a representation of the real world, such as a documentary
  • As a representation of a fictional world, such as a movie
  • As a representation of fantasy, such as computer games
  • As something abstract, such as in writing or reading (social media, internet, etc.)

The worst forms are fantasy and the abstract form as they tend to entice the self to live in it.


As with everything, there is a spectrum of “screen sickness” ranging from mild to serious.  It primarily depends on how much a person is “living in the screen”.  By this I mean how serious a person interacts with the “screen” and takes it as a form of “life”.

There are a stages in this “living in the screen” as it progresses from mild to severe:

  1. It becomes an occasional diversionary world.  This usually isn’t a problem and is often healthy.  A good example is watching TV occasionally.
  2. It intrudes into everyday life.  This is often the beginning signs of a problem.  A good example is when people go to someones house and spends all the time playing on their phone.
  3. A person becomes overly preoccupied with it.  This is when problems often become apparent.  A good example is when someone always wants to play computer games all the time.
  4. A person gets addicted to it.  They “have to have it”.  A good example is when people need to have a cell phone on them at all times.
  5. A person develops a dependency of it.  They “can’t live without it”.  A good example is when a person “freaks out” when they don’t have a cell phone and can’t function.
  6. It takes on a quality of another world.  Their main focus of life starts to be in the “screen”.  A good example is when people surf the internet so much that they base their whole view of life and the world by what it says, not on whats happening in the real world or even their own experience.
  7. It becomes the world.  A person lives through it and can’t live without it.  This is a serious problem.  A good example is when someone plays with computer games so much that they become oblivious to the world around them spending all their time with whats on the “screen”.

In many ways, there becomes something like a competition between the “screen” and the real world.  It becomes a question of which world to live in and focus on.  The problems is that, nowadays, the “screen” seems to be winning and for a number of reasons, such as:

  • It is so prevalent
  • It has many forms that it appears
  • It has many ways that it entices people
  • People are unhappy with life, nowadays, which makes the world on the “screen” more appealing


The “screen” can become so dominate that it can create things like:

  • A false world
  • A false self
  • A distorted relation of the self with the world – “mis-adaption”

In general, the false world of the “screen” entices the self into it. The “screen” entices the self a number of ways:

  • The “screen” appears as a way for the self to experienced more
  • It allows the display of fantasy or fantasy world
  • It satisfies wishes that normally can’t be fulfilled
  • It destroys the mundane qualities of life

In short, the “screen” gives something that is lacking in life and that is its enticement.  This means that, behind the appeal of the “screen” is unfilled desire.  In other words, the appeal of the enticement is to satisfy a need.

If this enticing is extensive the self starts to adapt itself to the false world of the “screen”.  This develops a condition where the self  causes a distorted relation with the world.  The self has basically begun to “live” in the world of the “screen”.  In other words, in the “screen sickness” the self has begun to adapt itself to a false world.  This more or less means that the “screen sickness” is a problem of “mis-adaption” . . . the self is adapting to the wrong thing.  

In many ways, “mis-adaption” is not reflective of a pathological condition.  In general, the adaption is normal and healthy.  But, the adaption is toward the unnatural condition created by the “screen”.  Their adaption generally works well while in the “screen” but when they are not in the “screen”, such as in the real world, the problems of adaption begin to appear . . . their only adapted to the condition of the “screen”.


“Mis-adaption”, of course, has a spectrum ranging from mild to severe. It can also be sporadic to constant.

In general, “mis-adaption” tends to cause a number of problems:

  1. Domination of their life
  2. Addiction
  3. Dependency
  4. Problems in everyday life
  5. Problems with the self
  6. Lost interest in the real world
  7. Abandoning the real world

1-Domination of their life

If it dominates their life much of their life will be focused on it and they will be overly preoccupied with it.  This, it seems to me, is the first sign of a potential problem.


At this point, they can’t live without it and are always in need for it.  For example, they will sleep with a cell phone in their hand.  Another version is spending 10 hours playing computer games.  It starts to interfere with life.  Basically, its not a lot of different than a drug addiction.


Many people become so dependent on some form of a “screen” that they can’t live without it.  Some people can’t think without consulting the “screen”.

4-Problems in everyday life

Because the self is not adapted to the real world it can create a number of problems.  Some examples include:

  • Problems with relationship with people, problems socializing, communicating, etc.
  • Problems with sensory perception as their self is adapted to the sensory stimuli of the “screen”.
  • Problems reacting with the world, such as over-reacting to things, being hyper, etc.
  • Problems responding to the problems of life.
  • Problems solving problems in life.

5-Problems with the self

Because of the development of a false self there often appears problems with the self.  Some common things are:

  • A “screen self”.  In this the “screen” ends up becoming their self.  This tends to cause an absence of self.  One effect of this is that they do not perceive themselves as a separate and distinct person in the world.  They really only see themselves as an “extension” of the “screen”.  It becomes the measure of who they are.  Because of this, many people with the “screen sickness” have this quality of a “nobody”, as if no one is there.
  • A “screen mind”.  Since their self is replaced by the “screen” they often develop a “mind IN the screen”.  That is to say, the “screen” begins to think for them and it determine their likes, desires, hopes, dislikes, and so on.  In other words, the “screen” literally tells them what to do.  This tends to create a gullible and slavish mentality.  As a result of this, people with “screen sickness” are often predisposed to things like manias and social hysteria’s.

6-Lost interest in the real world

Sometimes, they may “lose interest” in the real world because they are so desiring of the life found in the “screen”.  Their whole desire in life is on the “screen”.  Everything else does not interest them.

7-Abandoning the real world

In some cases, they may treat the real world as the “screen”.  In other words, they have lost a sense of the real world.  It becomes non-existent.  They begin to live in the world created by the “screen” as if that is all there is in the world.  Everything is compared to it.  They look for it for “life” and living.  Their heart is in the “screen”.


When young children have a “screen” as a toy or entertainment, such as a computer game, it can get to the point that it completely replaces play.  The effect of this is that the children is robbed of play and is deprived of the growth and development play offers.  This shows that the “screen” can effect growth and development.  Many children have had their growth and development impaired because of the “screen” and its effects.  This can carry over into adulthood.

I jokingly call this condition “mis-growth” This is a condition where a persons growth is distorted or warped by living in an unhealthy way.  In this case, the unhealthy way is by living in the “screen” too much.  


In general, it seems that “mis-adaption” is what affects adults and “mis-growth” is what affects children.  In both cases, the person is adapted to the wrong condition but in different ways.  One could say that adults are adapting to the wrong thing, children are growing to the wrong thing.


What all this shows is that there is a growing conflict with the real world nowadays.  This appears in a number of ways:

  • Accepting the real world
  • Adapting to the real world
  • Growing in the real world

This conflict isn’t because there is a problem with the real world but, rather, there is something that is distracting from it:  the “screen”.  To me, this gives it a quality much like a drug or alcohol.  I also think people react to it similar to a drug or alcohol.  Unlike a drug or alcohol I don’t think the “screen” is quite so hard to quit, at least in most cases.  It seems, to me, that the remedy to most “screen sickness” is really a matter of not catering to the “screen” so much or even having nothing to do with it at all.  The problem is that its everywhere and, being a consumer product, they’ve specifically made it so that it appears something that people “need”.  Its hard for many people to have absolutely nothing to do with it.  But it seems that by just not catering to it as much helps.


I can often tell if a person has “screen sickness” because it often creates a specific look.  I have always described it as a “spectral gaze”, they are as if looking out into an abyss.

Basically, when a person looks at a screen their eyes and mind are focused on a flat screen in front of them.  For a person with the “screen sickness” they are so addicted to it that when they aren’t looking at the screen, such as in talking to you, they still have that “focused on the screen” look.  They seem to be looking at something that isn’t there.  In other words, they appear as if they are looking at the screen all the time.  This shows that the “screen” has become dominating in their life.


I consider that “screen sickness” is a growing and serious problem.

Some things that are instrumental in causing this problem include:

  • Computer games
  • Cellular phones
  • Social media
  • The internet

The effect of this problem is not being acknowledged, at least as far as I know.  Some of the reasons for this include:

  • That the various forms of the “screen” are so prevalent that any negative effects of it are not being taken seriously.
  • Any problems that do appear are so prevalent that its considered trivial.
  • It isn’t being acknowledged because people have been “bought off” with it primarily because they also use some form of a “screen” . . . how can it be bad if they use it too?

Despite this, everywhere I turn I see examples of this problem.  I would almost venture to say that large segments of the entire younger generations are being adversely effected, impaired, or destroyed by this problem.  

See this article for a similar theme:

Going beyond “screen sickness” – the “imagery dilemma” – conflicts between the self and “image”

Thoughts on “the addiction” – aspects of the technology addiction

Copyright by Mike Michelsen

This entry was posted in Children and play, Dehumanization and alienation, Mass communication: media, social media, and the news, Modern life and society, Science and technology, Twenty first century and post cold war society and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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