Will your Smartphone be reporting you to the Depression Police?


Gone will be the days when you can hole up in your house, turn off the lights and go on a three day bender, harming nobody but yourself. Not if you have a smartphone monitoring your activity or, lack of it..

Research is currently underway to confirm that the more you are using your smartphone, the more likely you are depressed.

Yes, very serious research with lots of PhD’s and stuff:
From the Journal of Medical Internet Research

WHERE the phone is used is also a predictor of emotional state.

Using GPS data from the phones of the study participants, people who spend most of their time at home, or in few locations, are linked to depression, researchers concluded. Having an irregular schedule also can prompt feelings of sadness and hopelessness.

Here’s the part that gave me shivers considering the coming robotic controlled world:

“The significance of this is we can detect if a person has depressive symptoms and the severity of those symptoms without asking them any questions,” said senior author David Mohr, director of the Center for Behavioral Intervention Technologies at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. “We now have an objective measure of behavior related to depression. And we’re detecting it passively. Phones can provide data unobtrusively and with no effort on the part of the user.”

WITHOUT ASKING THEM ANY QUESTIONS means introducing huge risk of incorrect assumptions. And as my dear father used to tell me, “Assumption is the mother of all F-ups”.

Now suppose some government somewhere in a galaxy far far away (I won’t name names) has control of the entire healthcare system.

What could this mean? It means you may not in the future be allowed to be depressed. i.e. Depression is a crime.

With more and more government intrusion and monitoring of our private lives, the following scenario is not a stretch in my opinion.

Suppose in order to avoid random violent acts the government as a requirement for health care provision, requires you to have a certain app on your phone, or the app is simply there without your knowledge as mandated by the government to the manufacturer. ( My guess is it’s already there )

Now your movements and behavior are monitored. Algorithms have been developed to “profile you”.
Suppose you simply feel like being anti-social, perhaps in exchange for being creative or productive. Your movements are constrained. Uh oh, your behavior matches that of a mass murderer before he performed a certain act.

Time for preemptive action! You soon have a knock at your door, your home searched, and you are put away as a threat to society. I can’t think of anything much more depressing than that.

Far fetched?
What do you think?


I am a long time BlackBerry user and fan. Beginning with the 7520, I have recognized the value of subtle productivity enhancements in BlackBerry devices for business communication and have never since strayed. Even when the iPhone took the market by storm, I was unimpressed, because it did nothing to help my business needs. Currently enjoying my one handed dream phone, the Classic! BB10 with a toolbelt! Today I contribute to UTB whenever I feel that I can help enlighten someone on the benefits of using BlackBerry over any other platform.

  • Barracuda7772

    I must be suicidal :o according to them. Oh somebody please save me

  • bartron

    It’s not far fetched at all. It’s the march to the real-life version of Minority Report.

    But if you turn off monitoring features, or make it difficult to be monitored, then they assume you’re trying to hide something, and thus you must be up to no good.

  • Canuckvoip

    That’s it… I’m going to find somebody with an iPhone and throw it away. It’s my good deed for the day.

  • E

    But being a weekend hermit is my happy place… I’m not depressed.
    I already know I’m being watched, tracked, monitored. I just do my part to keep the trackers entertained.

    • Blackjack

      And we appreciate that ;)

  • bambinoitaliano

    Thanks UTB for the free diagnosed. Now can I have the prescriptions as well?

    • Blackjack

      CanuckVoip provided the proper Rx in his comment above…

  • Anthony

    This isn’t far fetched. When you go to prison they’ll already know which type of pizza you prefer locco_smiley_39

    • Blackjack

      There’s always an upside…


    HA, HA! I offer this solution to my i-brothers and sisters. Run out and glue your phone to a passing bus. Big brother will assume you are OK because you are out touring your local city!

    Then go home and use your BlackBerry which has ACTUAL security to keep you safe.

    No thanks necessary. Move along.

    • Blackjack

      Excellent idea!