"Digititis" defined:
for both
digiphiles and digiphobes alike

digititis noun d·ig·iti·tis | \ ˈdi-jə-tī-təs \

Digititis: 1. the condition whereby our fingers, as soon as they come in touch with digital devices, exercise control over our brains to make us do stupid things.

2. an addiction to digital devices, daily from when we wake up to when we go to sleep.

In the past our brains controlled our fingers, as elegantly illustrated in the etymology of the original expressions “at one’s fingertips” (summis digitis) and “to count on one’s fingertips” (computare digitis) back in ancient Roman times.

But with the advent of the information age, the role of the brain and fingers has somehow reversed. Our fingers have come to control our brains as soon as they come in touch with digital devices.

We go into zombie-like status – totally unaware of our spatial surroundings – as we keep our eyes glued to our mobile devices:

  1. moving erratically across the sidewalk in the face of oncoming pedestrians;
  2. drifting trance-like with our trolleys across the aisles in grocery stores;
  3. dicing with death when in cars on our cell phones;
  4. sitting mute at the dining room table at a family dinner;
  5. going on romantic dinner dates without making eye contact with the person on the opposite side of the table;
  6. having loud bluetooth conversations on our earpods at street level with no heed as to who overhears intimate details;
  7. teenagers perpetually entranced in a digital haze in front of tablets or laptops with online games;
  8. students locked onto their digital devices in class rooms with trance-like glares - oblivious of what goes on in class;
  9. the pinging and frenzied cacophony of activated phones as soon as planes touch down;

What is the first thing we do when we wake up in the morning?

In fact, what is the first thing we do when we wake up at night? Constantly checking the latest email, Facebook or Twitter feed is the addiction of our times.

FOMO – the “fear of missing out” – is a socially driven anxiety and the product of our digital environment.

Is there a remedy for the sad condition of digititis? Opinions vary from advocating “digital detox” (complete abstinence) to time zone and location management “digital equilibrium”, which allows one to gain control of your spatial awareness and getting into a routine of allocating balanced time for dipping into the digital world. The aim is to move our brains from a trance condition (sub- or unconscious, zombie-like status) to an alert, supra-conscious state where we are fully aware of our immediate surroundings.

“We have to disconnect to connect” is the new rallying cry that comes straight from the mouths of many Australian schoolchildren after they’ve adapted (happily) to a mobile phone ban in their classrooms. French schools have introduced similar bans and in Canada, this solution is also now given serious thought.