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A PERSONAL MESSAGE FROM UPWORTHY
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Health

27-year-old who died of cancer left behind final advice that left the internet in tears

"Don't feel pressured to do what other people might think is a fulfilling life. You might want a mediocre life and that is so OK."

cancer, life advice, philosophy, grief
Photo courtesy of Remembering Holly Butcher/Facebook used with permission.

Holly Butcher left behind her best life advice before she passed away at 27.

The world said goodbye to Holly Butcher, a 27-year-old woman from Grafton, Australia.

Butcher had been battling Ewing's sarcoma, a rare bone cancer that predominantly affects young people. In a statement posted on Butcher's memorialized Facebook account, her brother, Dean, and partner, Luke, confirmed the heartbreaking news to friends.

"It is with great sadness that we announce Holly's passing in the early hours of this morning," they wrote on Jan. 4, 2018. "After enduring so much, it was finally time for her to say goodbye to us all. The end was short and peaceful; she looked serene when we kissed her forehead and said our final farewells. As you would expect, Holly prepared a short message for you all, which will be posted above."

Butcher's message, which Dean and Luke did, in fact, post publicly shortly thereafter, has brought the internet to tears.


We believe her powerful message — which has amassed an incredible 72,000 Likes and 56,000 shares across the world so far — deserves to be spread far and wide.

Butcher used her final post to reflect on what she's learned in her short but beautiful life, offering some advice to those of us who are willing to listen.

"It's a strange thing to [realize] and accept your mortality at 26 years young," she began. "I always imagined myself growing old, wrinkled and gray — most likely caused by the beautiful family (lots of kiddies) I planned on building with the love of my life. I want that so bad it hurts. That's the thing about life; It is fragile, precious and unpredictable and each day is a gift, not a given right."

Butcher's poignant post is definitely worth reading in full. But here are 16 especially powerful points:

1. "I just want people to stop worrying so much about the small, meaningless stresses in life and try to remember that we all have the same fate after it all, so do what you can to make your time feel worthy and great, minus the bullshit. ... Those times you are [whining] about ridiculous things (something I have noticed so much these past few months), just think about someone who is really facing a problem. Be grateful for your minor issue and get over it. It's OK to acknowledge that something is annoying but try not to carry on about it and negatively affect other people's days."

2. "Once you do that, get out there and take a freaking big breath of that fresh Aussie air deep in your lungs, look at how blue the sky is and how green the trees are; It is so beautiful. Think how lucky you are to be able to do just that — breathe. You might have got caught in bad traffic today, or had a bad sleep because your beautiful babies kept you awake, or your hairdresser cut your hair too short. ... I swear you will not be thinking of those things when it is your turn to go. It is all SO insignificant when you look at life as a whole. I'm watching my body waste away right before my eyes with nothing I can do about it and all I wish for now is that I could have just one more birthday or Christmas with my family, or just one more day with my partner and dog. Just one more."

cherishing today, thoughts on life, premature death, youth, family

Holly Butcher shares a big smile for the camera.

Photo courtesy of Remembering Holly Butcher/Facebook used with permission.

3. "I hear people complaining about how terrible work is or about how hard it is to exercise — be grateful you are physically able to. Work and exercise may seem like such trivial things…until your body doesn't allow you to do either of them… Appreciate your good health and functioning body — even if it isn't your ideal size. Look after it and embrace how amazing it is."

4. "Give, give, give. It is true that you gain more happiness doing things for others than doing them for yourself. I wish I did this more. Since I have been sick, I have met the most incredibly giving and kind people and been the receiver of the most thoughtful and loving words and support from my family, friends and strangers; more than I could ever give in return. I will never forget this and will be forever grateful to all of these people."

5. "This year, our family agreed to do no presents and despite the tree looking rather sad and empty (I nearly cracked Christmas Eve!), it was so nice because people didn't have the pressure of shopping and the effort went into writing a nice card for each other. Plus, imagine my family trying to buy me a present knowing they would probably end up with it themselves ... strange! ... but those cards mean more to me than any impulse purchase could. ... Anyway, moral of the story — presents are not needed for a meaningful Christmas."

6. "Use your money on experiences ... or at least don't miss out on experiences because you spent all your money on material shit. Put in the effort to do that day trip to the beach you keep putting off. Dip your feet in the water and dig your toes in the sand. Wet your face with salt water."

7. "Try just enjoying and being in moments rather than capturing them through the screen of your phone. Life isn't meant to be lived through a screen nor is it about getting the perfect photo."

music is therapy, love, courtesy, life and death, positive messages

"Try just enjoying and being in moments rather than capturing them..." Holly Butcher.

Photo courtesy of Remembering Holly Butcher/Facebook used with permission.

8. "Listen to music ... really listen. Music is therapy."

9. "Cuddle your dog. Far out, I will miss that."

10. "Talk to your friends. Put down your phone. Are they doing OK?"

11. "Travel if it's your desire, don't if it's not."

12. "Work to live, don't live to work."

13. "Seriously, do what makes your heart feel happy."

14. "Don't feel pressured to do what other people might think is a fulfilling life. You might want a mediocre life and that is so OK."

15. "Tell your loved ones you love them every time you get the chance and love them with everything you have."

16. "Oh and one last thing. If you can, do a good deed for humanity (and myself) and start regularly donating blood. It will make you feel good with the added bonus of saving lives. Blood donation (more bags than I could keep up with counting) helped keep me alive for an extra year — a year I will be forever grateful that I got to spend here on Earth with my family, friends and dog. A year I had some of the greatest times of my life."

Butcher may be gone, but her impact will live on in the hearts and minds of people around the world.

"Never [met] her, but I am very touched and in tears," one Facebook user commented. "Such a bright light for a seemingly dark world at times," another chimed in. "Beautiful."

"What a wise soul she is," someone concluded. "I'm off to donate my blood."

Rest in peace, Holly. You made this world a better place. ❤️

If you are in the U.S. and inspired by Butcher's message, consider finding a blood donation center near you. You could save a life.



This article originally appeared on 01.08.18


Sponsored

3 organic recipes that feed a family of 4 for under $7 a serving

O Organics is the rare brand that provides high-quality food at affordable prices.

A woman cooking up a nice pot of pasta.

Over the past few years, rising supermarket prices have forced many families to make compromises on ingredient quality when shopping for meals. A recent study published by Supermarket News found that 41% of families with children were more likely to switch to lower-quality groceries to deal with inflation.

By comparison, 29% of people without children have switched to lower-quality groceries to cope with rising prices.

Despite the current rising costs of groceries, O Organics has enabled families to consistently enjoy high-quality, organic meals at affordable prices for nearly two decades. With a focus on great taste and health, O Organics offers an extensive range of options for budget-conscious consumers.

O Organics launched in 2005 with 150 USDA Certified Organic products but now offers over 1,500 items, from organic fresh fruits and vegetables to organic dairy and meats, organic cage-free certified eggs, organic snacks, organic baby food and more. This gives families the ability to make a broader range of recipes featuring organic ingredients than ever before.


“We believe every customer should have access to affordable, organic options that support healthy lifestyles and diverse shopping preferences,” shared Jennifer Saenz, EVP and Chief Merchandising Officer at Albertsons, one of many stores where you can find O Organics products. “Over the years, we have made organic foods more accessible by expanding O Organics to every aisle across our stores, making it possible for health and budget-conscious families to incorporate organic food into every meal.”

With some help from our friends at O Organics, Upworthy looked at the vast array of products available at our local store and created some tasty, affordable and healthy meals.

Here are 3 meals for a family of 4 that cost $7 and under, per serving. (Note: prices may vary by location and are calculated before sales tax.)

O Organic’s Tacos and Refried Beans ($6.41 Per Serving)

Few dishes can make a family rush to the dinner table quite like tacos. Here’s a healthy and affordable way to spice up your family’s Taco Tuesdays.

Prep time: 2 minutes

Cook time: 20 minutes

Total time: 22 minutes

Ingredients:

1 lb of O Organics Grass Fed Ground Beef ($7.99)

1 packet O Organics Taco Seasoning ($2.29)

O Organics Mexican-Style Cheese Blend Cheese ($4.79)

O Organics Chunky Salsa ($3.99)

O Organics Taco Shells ($4.29)

1 can of O Organics Refried Beans ($2.29)

Instructions:

1. Cook the ground beef in a skillet over medium heat until thoroughly browned; remove any excess grease.

2. Add 1 packet of taco seasoning to beef along with water [and cook as directed].

3. Add taco meat to the shell, top with cheese and salsa as desired.

4. Heat refried beans in a saucepan until cooked through, serve alongside tacos, top with cheese.

tacos, o organics, family recipesO Organics Mexican-style blend cheese.via O Organics

O Organics Hamburger Stew ($4.53 Per Serving)

Busy parents will love this recipe that allows them to prep in the morning and then serve a delicious, slow-cooked stew after work.

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 7 hours

Total time: 7 hours 15 minutes

Servings: 4

Ingredients:

1 lb of O Organics Grass Fed Ground Beef ($7.99)

1 ½ lbs O Organics Gold Potatoes ($4.49)

3 O Organics Carrots ($2.89)

1 tsp onion powder

I can O Organics Tomato Paste ($1.25)

2 cups water

1 yellow onion diced ($1.00)

1 clove garlic ($.50)

1 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

2 tsp Italian seasoning or oregano

Instructions:

1. Cook the ground beef in a skillet over medium heat until thoroughly browned; remove any excess grease.

2. Transfer the cooked beef to a slow cooker with the potatoes, onions, carrots and garlic.

3. Mix the tomato paste, water, salt, pepper, onion powder and Italian seasoning in a separate bowl.

4. Drizzle the mixed sauce over the ingredients in the slow cooker and mix thoroughly.

5. Cover the slow cooker with its lid and set it on low for 7 to 8 hours, or until the potatoes are soft. Dish out into bowls and enjoy!

potatoes, o organics, hamburger stewO Organics baby gold potatoes.via O Organics


O Organics Ground Beef and Pasta Skillet ($4.32 Per Serving)

This one-pan dish is for all Italian lovers who are looking for a saucy, cheesy, and full-flavored comfort dish that takes less than 30 minutes to prepare.

Prep time: 2 minutes

Cook time: 25 minutes

Total time: 27 minutes

Servings: 4

Ingredients:

1 lb of O Organics Grass Fed Ground Beef ($7.99)

1 tbsp. olive oil

2 tsp dried basil

1 tsp garlic powder

1 can O Organics Diced Tomatoes ($2.00)

1 can O Organics Tomato Sauce ($2.29)

1 tbsp O Organics Tomato Paste ($1.25)

2 1/4 cups water

2 cups O Organics Rotini Pasta ($3.29)

1 cup O Organics Mozzarella cheese ($4.79)

Instructions:

1. Brown ground beef in a skillet, breaking it up as it cooks.

2. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and garlic powder

3. Add tomato paste, sauce and diced tomatoes to the skillet. Stir in water and bring to a light boil.

4. Add pasta to the skillet, ensuring it is well coated. Cover and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

5. Remove the lid, sprinkle with cheese and allow it to cool.

o organics, tomato basil pasta sauce, olive oilO Organics tomato basil pasta sauce and extra virgin olive oil.via O Organics

Justin and Dr. Key|TikTok

Dad discovers child has pinworms and it's freaking people out




If you're a parent you're likely in one of two categories: parents who have never heard of pinworms or parents who shuttered at the headline. Parents are not really given any sort of warning for all of the eyebrow raising situations that occur in childhood and one dad has found out that there was a lot left out of that non-existent parenting handbook.

Justin, a dad that runs the TikTok page drumbeatlane took to social media to tell the world of the current nightmare fuel parenting situation he was experiencing. He's also doing parents on social media a solid by giving them a heads up on the disturbing secret plaguing the parenting world–pinworms.

The viral video starts out with no trigger warning before he says though clenched teeth, "my son has worms in his anus." Yeah, you read that right. It's a thing. A slightly terrifying but totally normal thing.


"No one tells you about this stuff when you're thinking about being a parent but apparently it's like super normal for a child to just have worms in his booty hole," Justin says.

Dr. Cerissa Key, a pediatrician, chimed in on Justin's disturbing revelation and assured him and every parent watching that pinworms are a common thing that happens in young children. But she also dropped some info that other's including Justin may not have been ready to hear.

"Justin, sir. I hate to be the bearer of bad news. But if your son has worms in his booty hole, sir, politely and respectfully, you also have worms in your booty hole," Key reveals.

Key goes on to explain that kids are "disgusting" and don't wash their hands well so pinworms spread easily if a child at school or daycare has them. She advises that parents stock up on the chalky banana flavored medication that clears them up and to wash everything on hot while being sure to vacuum your floors well.

@drumbeatlane

Parenting truly is just one surprise after another. But the biggest surprise to me every time something crazy happens is that it is usually super common, just no one talks about it. So I’m warning you. Your child might get worms in their anus. #justinkellough #dadsoftiktok #parentsoftiktok #momsoftiktok #parentingadvice #parenting @Justin

People in the comment section of both videos were horrified that this was an actual thing while others commiserated with the stressed dad.

"I have no kids and now I'm paranoid I have pinworms with no symptoms," one person writes.

"I've raised 4 kids and never had this happen. Tomorrow this will be my entry on my gratitude journal," a mom confesses.

"Do I have kids? No...Do I even work around kids? Also no...do I still have the urge to take this medicine just in case anyways? 100000%," someone says.

@therealdrkey

#stitch with @Justin Allllll about pinworms! It your kid has them, YOU have them. 😩 #pinworms #pinworm #pediatrician #momlife #itchybottom #itchyvulva #pinwormssuck #parenting

Not everyone was stressed, some were thankful for the information. "Thank you! We haven't experienced pinworms yet, but super informative and helps to make parenting normalized," another commenter writes.

Key suggests that if your child has pinworms that the entire family should take a dose of the medication two weeks apart to make sure any left over newly hatched eggs are also killed. While you may not have been warned about pinworms, no one ever said parenting would be glamorous. It just seems people weren't prepared for how unglamorous it could get.


This article originally appeared on 12.23.23

Images provided by P&G

Three winners will be selected to receive $1000 donated to the charity of their choice.

True

Doing good is its own reward, but sometimes recognizing these acts of kindness helps bring even more good into the world. That’s why we’re excited to partner with P&G again on the #ActsOfGood Awards.

The #ActsOfGood Awards recognize individuals who actively support their communities. It could be a rockstar volunteer, an amazing community leader, or someone who shows up for others in special ways.

Do you know someone in your community doing #ActsOfGood? Nominate them between April 24th-June 3rdhere.Three winners will receive $1,000 dedicated to the charity of their choice, plus their story will be highlighted on Upworthy’s social channels. And yes, it’s totally fine to nominate yourself!

We want to see the good work you’re doing and most of all, we want to help you make a difference.

While every good deed is meaningful, winners will be selected based on how well they reflect Upworthy and P&G’s commitment to do #ActsOfGood to help communities grow.

That means be on the lookout for individuals who:

Strengthen their community

Make a tangible and unique impact

Go above and beyond day-to-day work

The #ActsOfGood Awards are just one part of P&G’s larger mission to help communities around the world to grow. For generations, P&G has been a force for growth—making everyday products that people love and trust—while also being a force for good by giving back to the communities where we live, work, and serve consumers. This includes serving over 90,000 people affected by emergencies and disasters through the Tide Loads of Hope mobile laundry program and helping some of the millions of girls who miss school due to a lack of access to period products through the Always #EndPeriodPoverty initiative.

Visit upworthy.com/actsofgood and fill out the nomination form for a chance for you or someone you know to win. It takes less than ten minutes to help someone make an even bigger impact.

Just because it's common in movies, doesn't mean it's common in everyday life.

Odds are you’ve come across a movie or television moment that made you think, “this definitely would never happen in real life.” Or maybe you thought something about a time or place which wasn’t actually real, thanks to a show you watched. I, for example, totally thought separate his & hers beds were a common thing in the 50s, thanks to “I Love Lucy.”

That’s kind of the magic of motion pictures. The line between reality and illusion is sometimes so blurred you really can’t discern between the whole “art imitating life” and “life imitating art” thing. Of course, the unbelievability of some common tropes make you wonder how they’ve endured for so long in the first place.

Recently, Reddit user rustyyryan asked: "What American thing is not that common but shown in many Hollywood movies/TV shows?"

Thousands responded. But here are some of the best answers.


1. "On Law and Order, when the police come and people keep doing their drone jobs. Sorry, but the most exciting thing in my day is a visit by the police, so I’m stopping everything, offering coffee, asking lots of questions, and ratting out my neighbors on unrelated things!"wawa2022

via GIPHY

"The other thing with Law and Order and other cop shows is that people always act annoyed toward the cops. IRL, the vast majority of people are not going to act that way. I’ve had a couple of cop visits and I was always shocked and kind of nervous and there was no way I would have acted like they were getting on my nerves!"logorrhea69

2."Presents where the box lid is wrapped separately from the rest of the box." sra19

"This drives me crazy! I get it...it would be a huge hassle to have to re-wrap a present for every take, plus you have to worry about continuity, but I have literally never seen a present wrapped this way in my life."yourlittlebirdie

3. "At schools, teachers give assignments like normal people and don't shout it at the class as they're departing after the bell rings." Beezo514

via GIPHY

4. "Women having sex while wearing a bra the whole time. That's the first or second thing I take off of her." BendingDoor

5. "The houses and apartments shown do not represent the living conditions of most folks."rjainsa

"One of the reasons Spielberg's films from the '80s/'90s were so believable was that he insisted on houses looking lived in. The Goonies and E.T. both showed messy houses, single parents, scruffy kids, etc." springloadednadsack

via GIPHY

6. "Empty parking spaces on city streets." other_half_of_elvis

7. "Especially right in front of the place you’re going."BxAnnie

8. "Moms making huge breakfasts that no one eats." babyfresno77

9. "This is the one. Every time, I’m like, 'What time are these kids getting up? What time does school start?'"DanDan_notaman

10. "Cars exploding in a crash." St_Ander

"My husband is a firefighter, and he hates car explosion scenes in movies because they don't happen the way movies show them happening."Specialist-Funny-926

11."I noticed that no one has screens on their windows on TV. Where I live the bugs would carry you away."RusticSurgery

via GIPHY

"This one drives my husband crazy. He always comments on this when someone opens a window, sticks their head out, or throws something out. Could not do that where I live."Sunnywithachance099

12. "Shoes on the bed." slash-5

"I absolutely hate that trope. People with their shoes on beds or sofas. Hate it."Farscape29

13. "Classes last longer than for the teacher to say something pithy, ask someone a question and then hear the bell ring. School buses don't honk for your lollygagging ass. If the bus stop is empty, they keep driving." Scrotchety

14. "Halloween party costumes are much more elaborate on TV compared to real life."Fireproofspider

via GIPHY

"You never see anyone in some crap they picked up at Spirit Halloween 30 minutes before the party."Repulsive-Heron7023

15. "Nobody ever has to ask someone to repeat themselves in a movie. I probably say, 'What?' about 60 times a day." Street-Suitable

"This is all TV and movies. Nobody ever stumbles over their words unless it is a plot-necessary miscommunication or the bumbly can't get my words out trope."Jimmy_riddle86

16. "Abrupt endings to conversations or phone calls without saying bye." ParapluieGris

via GIPHY

"OMG, thank you. Seriously, I wondered if people actually did this."raggitytits

17. "The idea that you could be like six months behind on rent before they threaten to evict you, or six months behind on the power bill before they cut off your electricity. Maybe it used to be like that, but it sure isn’t anymore." komeau

18. "People in a bar ordering a 'beer.' In real life, the server would likely be exasperated and ask about brand/kind and quantity." remymartinia

"This one drives me nuts. I have never once in my 14 years working at restaurants and bars had someone just order a 'beer.'"EveInGardenia

…and lastly…

19. "Kids dressed up for school, which would result in them being sent home to change…Also, teens wearing stilettos to school."Wulfkat

via GIPHY

"Most teenagers today wear a baggy sweatshirt or a large T-shirt to school."Randomthoughts4041

Melissa Pateras explains how dry cleaning works.



Have you ever wondered what happens at the dry cleaners? Or are you like me, who just assumed the people at the dry cleaners were wizards and never questioned their magic? Turns out, dry cleaners aren't magic and there's actually a pretty interesting explanation of how they came to be and what they do.

Melissa Pateras is known on Tiktok for her laundry knowledge. Seriously, her ability to fold laundry is hypnotizing. This time, she created a video explaining what actually takes place at the dry cleaner and the internet is aghast.

Before Pateras explained what happens in the mysterious world behind the counter of a dry cleaner, she asked a few of her friends what they thought dry cleaning was. Their answers were...interesting to say the least.

One friend surmised, "You put it in a box, right...and then you let some wind, really fast wind, blow around on your clothes and it wipes off all the dirt." The friend, whose username is @unlearn16, continued with her working hypothesis, saying that the clothes are then blasted with infrared heat to sterilize the garments. While that is certainly an interesting theory, that's not what happens.


Another friend guessed, "Dry cleaning is when they take all of your dirty clothes into this big dryer with a clean sheet that sticks all of the dirt to it from your dirty clothes." This friend was also incorrect, and Pateras finally explained why after her friends dug deep into their brains for their best guesses.

Turns out dry cleaning was invented by accident when Jean-Baptiste Jolly spilled a kerosene lamp on his tablecloth, which dried cleaner than it was previously, according to Pateras.

The laundry guru explained that while it was dangerous, the practice of cleaning things with kerosene continued until a less flammable method was discovered. But even the safer method is still fairly harsh, which is why dry cleaners take buttons off of clothing before running them through, she says.

This prompted one commenter to ask, "They really take the buttons off of every shirt?" to which Pateras replied that it only occurs if the buttons won't withstand the chemicals.

If you've ever been curious about what happens at the dry cleaner, watch the video below. She takes you through each step.

@melissadilkespateras

What is dry cleaning #laundry #laundrytok #drycleaning #funfacts @Tracy Taylor @Unlearn16 @Ana Pac @Ashley Mathieu @Li

This article originally appeared on 5.10.23

Music video about the female body is leaving people laughing

Sometimes you come across something that makes you giggle and want to cry all at the same time. Laughter can help take the sting out of uncomfortable or upsetting information and Farideh (@ilove farideh) has found a way to make hard truths funny with music videos. Recently the Instagram creator uploaded a video poking fun at the medical mystery that is the human female body.

Women have been a mystery in the medical community for as long as medicine has been around. Of course doctors know that women exist and the inner workings of the human bodies but there seems to be something about uterus owners that baffles doctors. It ranges from hormones to pain levels, to specific issues related to having a uterus.

Farideh covers it all in a catchy tune complete with pretty awesome dance moves that has commenters clapping along. The song starts off with the woman listing multiple medical conditions specific to woman, endometriosis, PCOS and more before singing, "what's happening to your body, we don't know because we've never really studied the female body."


"You say it's all in my head but the research is quite spotty," Farideh sings. Women in the comments are backing up the woman with her musical observation of what it's like to navigate the medical complex as a person born with female reproductive systems.

"She came for the entire failure of the medical community with a banger and bars. Not one lie told," one person says.

"'Just take birth control pills' - every single doctor for any symptom at all," another writes.

"Thank you for doing this. This is art. This is iconic. This. Is. Our. Anthem. 'Do you have pain? No you don't.'" someone agrees.

"Thanks. I hate it because it rings so true, but love you for singing the truth," one commenter shares.

While many women in the comments were praising the creator, others shared their heartbreaking reality of not being taken seriously when seeking medical care.

"'I don’t feel quite right and I’m so lethargic'. GP: lose weight, exercise more, see my partner who is a psychologist. It was stage 3 cancer. I wish I was joking," a woman reveals.

"Immediately after giving birth, my uterus didn't contract and I was hemorrhaging significantly. I was in severe pain. They thought I was overreacting and having a panic attack so instead of treating my problem, they gave me a dose of Lorazepam to shut me up. I ended up losing over 3 litters of blood, went into shock, and had to be resuscitated. Why are there so many stories like this? Unacceptable," another explains.

While Farideh's song is amusing, the issue she's highlighting is extremely important. Hopefully the research gap will be addressed so women can feel listened to and cared for when they seek medical attention.

David Shankbone/Wikipedia, Photo credit: Canva

Is this the only way to break phone addiction?

On a recent episode of his “Where Everybody Knows Your Name” podcast, Ted Danson noted that Woody Harrelson doesn’t have a phone. He even joked that the “Hunger Games” star was “one of those bullies in life that make other people carry his phone for him.”

Harrelson quickly clarified that Danson’s jape wasn’t “exactly true,” sharing what really led him to ditching his device three and a half years ago.

“Well, I just don’t like to have, you know, to be readily available to any human being at any time,” he told Danson. “I like to be in touch with people in a way, but I don’t like the appendage on my appendage.”

Harrelson’s sentiment is certainly a relatable one. But it’s his failed attempts to “limit” his screen time that really resonate.

“Back then I was like, ‘Okay, I’m going to set this limit. Two hours,’ ” Harrelson reflected. “It’s like 9:30. You know, I’ve already hit my limit at 9:30, so I woke up, and I’ve been on it two hours already because, cuz you know how it can just keep going and going.”

Goodness, how many of us have tried—and failed—to limit our screen time?

Even with little alerts that say “you have five more minutes'' on various apps, those alerts are easy to ignore once you do it a couple of times. Another strategy might be putting our phones on “Do Not Disturb” to ward off notifications, or setting it to “Night Mode” so that the screen is less bright and eye-catching. But anecdotally, all of these hacks seem to only do so much.

Harrelson also explained that he would find himself at dinner and and instantly reaching for his phone once there was a lull in the conversation. Who among us hasn’t been guilty of this modern day social faux pas? It even ignited the seemingly short-lived “phone stacking” movement, where friends going out to dinner would all stack their phones on the table, and whoever reached for their device first would have to cover the tab.

Lastly, Harrelson admitted he only ever used the phone to send texts, rather than make phone calls. According to Statista, texting is by far the most common phone activity, followed by emails, app usage, online shopping, internet, etc. Making phone calls didn’t even seem to make the list.

All this to say—phone addiction might not be on the same level as substance addiction, but its addictive qualities are incredibly hard to shake. And this is partially due to the fact that our society enables and encourages phone usage, much in the same way that alcohol is a fully ingrained aspect of our culture.

Paul Graham, famed Silicon Valley investor, notes that often society forms “antibodies” against addictive new things, coming first in the form of a change in public opinion, followed by a change in legislation. He uses the example of smoking, and how it went from being “totally normal” to something “seedy,” and eventually laws were created to match societal change. Even with alcohol we have seen this, with alcohol-free bars even becoming mainstream.

What makes “technology addiction” different, however, is how rapidly it evolves.

“Unless the rate at which social antibodies evolve can increase to match the accelerating rate at which technological progress throws off new addictions, we'll be increasingly unable to rely on customs to protect us. Unless we want to be canaries in the coal mine of each new addiction—the people whose sad example becomes a lesson to future generations—we'll have to figure out for ourselves what to avoid and how. It will actually become a reasonable strategy (or a more reasonable strategy) to suspect everything new,” he writes.

So, if our current world really doesn’t offer any buffers between us and our devices, Harrelson’s cold turkey approach does make some sense. Not that his approach is in any way feasible for 99% of us. But still, it offers some food for thought. Without agreed upon collective changes to our phone behavior, what chance does an individual really have of breaking free of this widely common habit? Is the only option to opt out entirely? These are questions thus far without answers. But what an important conversation to have moving forward.