It’s not surprising to look up in the modern world and see all heads around you tilted down toward some kind of screen, the things around people going totally unnoticed. You probably shake your head a little at this before you look back down at your own screen.
If you’ve thought about it at all, you might have thought this couldn’t be good for your head, eyes and neck. You would be right. According to a story I came across on the Internet (so you know it’s true), this new form of pain and discomfort is called “text neck.”
It occurs when you bend your neck down to read and write on a screen that is really rather small, no matter how big cellphone makers keep telling us they are. If you’re old enough, I know what you’re thinking. Why wasn’t this a thing back when people actually read books and magazines and newspapers?
We all knew a lot of reading would ruin our eyes. After all, if you started wearing glasses as a kid, you were obviously a nerdy loser with your nose in a book all the time and not super cool like football players and cheerleaders. I mean, who would read a book when a stupid adult wasn’t forcing you to?
But the thought that bending our bespectacled faces toward a book could hurt our necks never occurred to us. And if you’re thinking that modern day teenagers stare at a phone much longer than I ever did a book, well, you weren’t there when I was trying to get through all of Ed McBain’s 100 or so volume “87th Precinct” series before summer ended and school started.
And most text messages don’t amount to much. If you receive 100 text messages a day, they probably wouldn’t equal two pages in a book, unless you used really big print. Here’s an example of what two people texting might look like:
Garth Sat night!
(emoji of an excited face)
I can’t wait
I can’t believe stupid people who don’t like him
IKR So stupid (emoji of a stupid face)
And on and on like that. This is indeed what people are ruining their necks and eyes for. And if you’re the rare person who makes sure everything is spelled right, that all the punctuation is there and tries to give full, formed thoughts on a topic that ends asking what the other person might think on the topic, this is the response you’ll get:
IDK. That stands for “I don’t know” in case you’re blissfully unfamiliar with Internet short cuts. Up above, IKR stands for “I know, right?” And you might have noticed that punctuation only gets used if the punctuation is an exclamation point and you use it multiple times. If you use any other punctuation, then you’re obviously an old loser who will never get it.
Anyway, here’s a little fact about what you do to your neck when you’re texting: “The average head weighs 10 to 11 pounds, according to a study published in Surgical Neurology International. When you flex your head forward 30 degrees to look down at a phone, the strain on your neck is actually 40 pounds. At 60 degrees you put 60 pounds on your neck.”
And you thought people were just being mean when they called you a fat head. It becomes habit forming the more you do it and it’ll start to hurt more but you’ll be unable to stop. Like the cancer survivor who lights one up as soon as they get the all clear sign.
While one part of that analogy is more dangerous than the other part, constant neck pain can’t be a joyful thing to live with. Is there a way we can continue to use our phones and tablets (to a lesser extent) while ignoring the world without hurting our necks?
Well, you could just hold the screen straight out from your face, but that looks weird and would probably get you stared at in public. You can lay flat on your back and hold the phone straight up over your face, but have you ever tried holding your arms up straight for any extended period of time? You quickly realize just how weak you are.
You can use some kind of base to lean your phone or tablet up against, or you can attach a thing to your neck that puts the phone at eye level. Think Bob Dylan when he would play the guitar and harmonica at the same time. Yeah, I know. Not that it really matters. Like that cancer survivor lighting one up, you’re gonna look down at that phone no matter what pain you’re suffering through or have suffered.