‘Text Neck’ Is a Real Thing and It Could Fuck Up a Generation

It turns out that when you look down at your phone the weight of your big dumb head puts unbearable strain on your neck and spine.

by VICE Staff
Nov 21 2014, 4:30pm

TextneckLADS (Photo via ​Duncan)

Resea​rchers at the National Library of Medicine have just found out that there is an epidemic sweeping America called—and this is possibly the best name for a medical condition since "micropenis"—"text neck".

Text neck. Text. Neck. It's when you look down at your phone too much—when walking down the street, perhaps, or when you're sitting in front of me at the cinema, or at the bar instead of talking—and the weight of your big dumb head plus the Earth's gravity puts unbearable strain on your neck and spine. The condition can cause muscle strain, pinched nerves, herniated discs, and, over time, even remove your neck's natural curve. And all because you had to keep an eye on your group text message while someone went through a bad breakup. All because you were taking a screenshot of a fun interaction you had on Tinder.

"It is an epidemic or, at least, it's very common," said Kenneth Hansraj, chief of spine surgery at New York Spine Surgery and Rehabilitation Medicine and the study's author. "Just look around you, everyone has their heads down."

Your spine... on ACID! Photo via Keith ​Hans​raj

Yeah, he sounds a bit like your dad getting angry at young people, but the problem is hella real, and gets realer the more you lean forward and squint. Basically, your big dumb head weighs around 12 pounds, but when you lean your head forward the weight on the cervical spine starts to increase. At 15 degrees your head is exerting about 27 pounds of force on your neck; at 30 degrees it's 40 pounds. By the time you're leaning 60 degrees forward just to send someone a dick pic, you've got 60 pounds—or, "about the weight of an eight-year-old"—hanging like a weird invisible albatross around your neck.

"The problem is really profound in young people," Hanraj adds, by which he means you. "With this excessive stress in the neck, we might start seeing young people needing spine care. I would really like to see parents showing more guidance." Plus, it wrecks your posture, which experts reckon can lead to reduced lung capacity as well as headaches and neurological issues.

Photo via ​Kevin Dooley

Anyway, the main thing is that text neck is clearly part of a wave of very modern injuries that are going to cripple young people in what we will look back on as a very hilarious way. What next? Burns from an overheating laptop? Dick stuck in a Roomba? Whatever future awaits us, just know that we will find dozens of innocuous ways to permanently and irrevocably injure ourselves. To the future!

PS: That laptop burns thing is ​real.

Follow Joel Golby on ​Twitter.