Chart of the Day: Millennials Love Their Smartphones, Hate Their Smartphones

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.


A new Vox poll exposes the love-hate relationship that millennials have with their smartphones:

A slight majority of those under 45 say they agree with the statement “the ability to be constantly connected to the internet with a smartphone can make me feel stressed out.” In contrast, only a quarter of those over 65 agreed with the statement. Seventy-eight percent of people under 30 found the constant connectivity of their smartphones distracting.

I imagine this feeling of being stressed comes from a feeling that you have to stay absolutely current about everything. Every alert might be something important. Donald Trump just said something stupid! Val and Kim are moving in together! This is the cutest kitten ever! Even if it’s just a quick OMG, you feel like you have to participate.

I sympathize. The difference is that as a blogger, my time scale for being current is measured in hours or so. There’s a certain amount of stress in that, but at least it’s limited to one thing (political news) and doesn’t require me to literally respond within minutes. Social use of smartphones is different. A text requires immediate response, usually within seconds or minutes—which is sort of ironic since one of the benefits of texting is supposed to be that it’s asynchronous. Technically it is, but in real life hardly anyone treats it that way.

But I imagine that things will all sort themselves out. Our phones will get ever smarter, and eventually our AI avatars will just respond for us. At some point, most communications will just be our smartphones chatting with each other while pretending to be people. That way, we stay in the loop, but we can catch up with things later—and hope that our smartphone didn’t make any horrible social faux pas. Welcome to the future.

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest