This Ancient Philosopher Has Timeless Advice on Fighting Your Smartphone Addiction

Gregg Williams, MFT
2 min readJan 23, 2021
Photo: Anthony Fomin

In What to Do When Today Looks Bad, I talked about how today is a gift because you could have died in your sleep last night. Socrates was the first to say this, but many of the Stoic philosophers also talked about it. (Stoics get a bad rap; they were far from being the grim, pleasure-denying drudges that come to mind for most people.)

It’s hard to imagine your death; we avoid thinking about it because it’s sometime in the future. (But it could have been last night.)

The Stoics give us what I think is an immediately useful way to think about death. The Roman stoic Seneca puts it succinctly:

Who understands that he dies daily? Most of death is already gone. Whatever time has passed is owned by death.

Every minute, every second you live is immediately gone, forever. Joe Biden can’t; Elon Musk can’t; Taylor Swift can’t.

That means that every moment is precious. The better you spend each moment, the better your life will be. Once you realize this, the phrase “killing time” takes on a chilling meaning. What you do over and over determines who you will be — sooner than you think.

You’ve already admitted to someone that you spend too much time, killing time on social media. Wouldn’t you like some concrete advice on how to stop giving your time to death every day?



Gregg Williams, MFT

Retired therapist. Married 27 years. Loves board games, serious movies. Very curious about many thing. Over 13,600 people are following my articles.