Smartphones are our generation’s cigarettes

Nicotine is addictive, everyone knows that, but so are phones, too.

Although lots people still smoke today, cigarette culture back in the 50s and 60s was mad different from cigarette culture today.


Everyone smoked back then. From grandma, to blue collar workers, business people, pregnant women, even preachers smoked ! It was ubiquitous. 

Besides, cigarette ads were outrageous !

(Btw, I think 50 years from now, kids will look at meat, fish and dairy ads the way we look at crazy nicotine ads today.

Meat, fish and dairy are so toxic that it’s quite mind-boggling to see these industries thrive so much on misinformation. Beside being extremely harmful to the animals and the planet, they’re literally destroying our health, in total impunity.)

Anyway, not the point ^^

Similarly to nicotine addiction in the 50s, it seems as though everyone is addicted to their smartphone today.

In 2019, in a pre-pandemic environment, NBC reported that teens average over 7 hours of smartphone use a day.

That number is now higher for both teens and adults, as teens now spend up to 9 HOURS a day on their phones !

Madness !

Cigarettes take years off your life by just killing you (cancer). Social media takes years of your life by making you endlessly scroll, and lose your sense of purpose and time.

Cellphones can also cause cancer and sharply increase tumor risk (souce: UC Berkeley)

The observation:

It’s sad to see what has become of interpersonal relationships, and activities in the ‘real world’ altogether.

I’ve decided to write this post to remind myself and my readers of the harms of excessive cellphone use and social media exposure. I also believe we need to push back and raise awareness against what’s happening in this realm.

It ain’t just about phones though, it’s what’s in them.

Social Networks, gaming apps, dating apps, and so on are driving us away from the things that really matter. We’re losing our very humanity because of such things.

Instant gratification and FOMO are this generations worst diseases, as discussed on this episode of my podcast with Deborah Cooper, columnist, author and relationships expert.

I believe we need to rethink the place of smartphones in our modern societies and the way we interact with both technology and each other, bridge some gaps.

I also think we need to push for less addictive designs. To push technology companies to make functional, utilitarian platforms as opposed to addictive ones.

We need to be aware of how technology is affecting our brains and society as a whole.

It’s like we have billions and billions of people zonked out, consuming hours and hours on their phones without realizing that they’re wasting years of their life. Something needs to be done there.

From a behavioral standpoint, the smartphone is the cue, craving, response, and reward. It’s designed to be addictive because you’re a swipe away from a dopamine hit.

We need awareness of this.

Internet addiction is a problem that nobody wants to admit . It’s also a problem that’s beyond individual control.

It’s almost unreasonable to think it’s someone’s fault for developing the addiction in this day and age. Our society enables it.

How many kids do you see glued to an iPad at ages that seem ridiculous?

Remember just a couple years ago when big tech pretended to care about this problem with some half-baked features like screen time & limits on the platforms? It was laughable.

I’m obviously not against social media, dating and gaming apps, not one bit.

I’ve actually met the dearest person to my heart on one of these apps.

With that being said, wisdom lies in moderation.

There are many studies that link depression and a low life-satisfaction to social media use and online dating apps.

Furthermore, Social Networks are becoming increasingly invasive, and are a pervasive part of modern culture, which greatly affects our global mental health.

"Human beings find purpose in their responsibilities. Responsibilities aren't a burden, they're a gift and they give our lives meaning."

So what can we do, collectively, to save people from becoming zombies ?

So, this is my favorite part and the reason I wrote this post.

There are dozens of activities that you could and probably should be doing right now if you weren’t on your phone.

Here’s a quick list of things that you must look into and that could potentially break your addiction and increase life satisfaction and connectedness with the world:

  • Hiking and trekking: hiking doesn’t require any training, gear (besides decent shoes) or entry fees
  • Picnics: with friends, your partner, family, your dog, picnics are fun and great way to meet like minded people in the real world
  • Ramble the town you live in, there are always some lovely hidden gems that are defo worth exploring
  • Chat in person with no schedule in mind, about anything, chill with your partner or your best friends, go for tea
  • Biking: not just to work or to run errands, but just for the sake of it
  • Do something whimsical like find handfuls of acorns to paint with cute smiley faces
  • Workout with friends
  • Go to your local shooting stand and learn how to handle weapons
  • Take up a new hobby: Yoga, Tai Chi, Knitting, Guitar playing, language learning, coding, drawing, blogging, writing, woodworking
  • Invest your time in charity work and/or teaching/mentoring
  • Dog/cat keeping whenever you’re free and don’t know what to do. Animals are a great way to fight stress and anxiety
  • Visit your local parks and cemeteries, go for a stroll there, use that time to reflect on your own life and how to improve your life and that of those around you
  • Play sports with your buddies, or join new groups with whom you can also hoop/play football
  • Explore your local libraries and their books
  • Write your own book
  • Learn how to cook and dabble with your diet. Learn more about what you’re putting in your body on a daily basis
  • Practice conscious breathing
  • But most importantly, make sure you always have something going on in your life to keep you pumped.

One of my podcast guests once told me “humans find purpose in their responsibilities. Responsibilities aren’t a burden, they’re a gift and they give our lives meaning“.

No truer words have ever been spoken.

There are so many useful ways to spend your free time, so don’t waste it scrolling endlessly.

Who would've thought "Cyber Cafes" or Internet Cafes would fit into our pockets someday ?

Millennial nostalgia:

Back in ye olden days (late 90s, early 2000s), my friends and I used to spend hours outside. Riding our bikes around town, playing football in the street, listening to music together, freestyling, telling jokes, climbing trees, running or “working out”..

Then, whenever our finances matched our desires, which wasn’t that often, we’d grab a bite together and just .. talk.

No one was distracted while talking, because smartphones didn’t exist yet.

At the risk of sounding old, those were definitely “the days bro!”

P.S.: who would’ve thought “Cyber Cafes” or Internet Cafes would fit into our pockets someday ? It’s insane come to think of it. I grew up in Cyber Cafe era, we used to hang out in cybers all the time, mostly playing video games (essentially Counter-Strike and Red Alert)

Here’s what Red Alert looked like ^^

Shit was mad dope, I ain’t gonna lie !

So why the sudden change ?

Tech companies leveraged smartphone ecosystems by using gamification and behavioral economics as their tactics to trick our brains into consuming more and more on our phones.

This is common knowledge but such strategies were inspired by casinos, the devil’s ground and masters of addiction.

Psychologists like Dan Ariely and Daniel Kahneman have had a major influence on how tech apps have been constructed to have addicting rewards systems.

In closing:

I genuinely hope that people realize social media isn’t a substitute for real connection.

I think as a species we need to have a better understanding of ourselves if we want to keep evolving and find genuine happiness. It may not seem like it but we’re still as primitive as a man from the first century AD, only with more gadgets around us.

It’s funny how slow death never gets a bad rep.

Life in Lyon, mostly pros and some cons

Lyon is one of the biggest and most diverse cities in France. 

Size and culture-wise:

It offers a wide range of cultural activities, sporting events and festivals.

It’s not too small so you get bored easily, nor too large that is gets overwhelming. 

I ain’t fond of metropolises like NYC, Paris or London. Medium-sized cities like Lyon offer access to pretty much everything you could find in bigger cities, minus the stress, dangers and exorbitant real estate prices.

Combine that with Lyon’s amazing public transport network and you have a winner.

The surroundings:

The proximity to Switzerland and Italy was a huge plus for me, with Brussels (Belgium) also being 4 hours away by train.

Besides, if you’re into hiking and/or winter sports like skiing and snowshoeing then look no further, Lyon is the place to be for you, with the Alps aka the highest and most extensive mountain range system in Europe right next to you.

The dream !

Proximity to the mountains and surrounding countries was one of my favorite things about this city. Despite the locals being somewhat unfriendly, being in the outdoors and traveling around made the whole experience well worth it.

You can find some pretty gnarly trails in Valence, Roman and Grenoble and its incredible views of the Alps.

Btw the trails were surprisingly empty in the winter, perhaps out of caution.

In immediate proximity you’ll also find the amazing cities of Annecy and Aix-Les-Bains with its thermal baths.

Student life:

I honestly couldn’t tell you much about student life in Lyon. I mean, my friends seemed to have a lotta fun going out, clubbing, going to festivals and whatnot. I wasn’t.

As an 18YO kid and fresh out the family nest, my focus was very different from that of my peers. 

I had one idea in mind: make as much money as I could, pass my classes and learn how to invest. 

I used to watch a LOT of football and geek on FIFA as well. 

The thing about my passage in Lyon was that I knew I wasn’t gonna be around for too long.

As much as this post makes it sound as though was a city I loved, it wasn’t. I’ve always looked forward to leaving, for some reason.

Besides, it seemed as though all of my friends ended up leaving as well. Go figure !

All that said, Lyon offers several entertainment options, free passes and discounts for students. You’ll also find lots of Erasmus students and expats there, which is always nice.


  • Cost of living: it was alright, I managed to get by quite easily. If you budget your spendings, you’ll be fine, just keep in mind that this is France and life isn’t as cheap as it is in Spain, Germany or Portugal. It’s still very affordable compared to Paris, London or some other megalopolis. 
  • Accomodation: it’s not easy to find the right place, but it’s doable. Finding accommodation is never easy in western countries, unless you’re financially very stable, in which case that won’t be an issue at all. But as a student, it wasn’t as hard as it is in Bordeaux, nor was it as easy as it was in Southeast Asia, Africa or South America. 

You can always share a flat for a few months then move out on your own. 

  • Cuisine: I’m not a big fan of French cuisine BUT Lyon is the birth place of “French tacos” (don’t ask me why they call them that, they’re nothing like tacos). French tacos are probably my favorite French dish of all. I know, I ain’t boogie enough, and I couldn’t care less 🙂

As a vegan, though, Idk if Lyon (like most French cities) is very vegan-friendly. The French love their meat and cheeses.

But if I had to go back, I’d probably start with Le Paradis du Fruit. 

Favorite spots: 

  • Fourvière Basilica 
  • Parc de la Tête d’Or (huge natural park)
  • Vieux Lyon (Old town)
  • Island of Barbe
  • The Roman Amphitheaters
  • Bellecour Square
  • Rue (street) Prunelle and its beautiful staircase
  • Place Rouville (Croix Rousse)
  • Stade de Gerland and of course Groupama Stadium for football-heads like myself 
  • Hôtel de Ville – Terreaux – Ópera
  • And of course the Quais (river banks), especially during the summer. Very lively and chill, the perfect place to go for a stroll, a bike ride or anything of that nature
  • The French “projects” or public housing in Vénissieux and Les Minguettes. I wouldn’t recommend going there alone unless you actually are from the streets. That said, I felt more at home there than I ever did where I used to live (Gambetta, which is quite central). People were just genuinely nice. 
  • Place de Terreaux
  • Café Sevilla or Casa Latina if you enjoy reggaeton. 

The festival of lights:

It usually takes place between the 8th and 11th of december each year, and summons about 3/4 million tourists.

The whole city gets lit up, which quite a sight to see.

WATCH: Great movies that explore black excellence, systemic racism and social (in)justice

Compiled is a list of more than 50 GREAT movies about black excellence, social injustice, black struggle and systemic racism.

Most movies on this list are based on real events, some are fictional.

  • Marshall – Chadwick Boseman, 2017 (based on a true story)
  • Green book – Mahershala Ali, 2018 (based on a true story)
  • Just mercy – Michael B. Jordan, Jamie Foxx, 2019 (based on a true story)
  • Race (Jesse Owens) – Stephan James, 2015 (based on a true story)
  • BlacKkKlansman – John David Washington, 2018 (based on a true story)
  • Selma – David Oyelowo, 2014 (based on a true story)
  • One night in Miami – Leslie Odom Jr., 2020
  • Fresh – Sean Nelson, Samuel L. Jackson, 1994
  • Get on up – Chadwick Boseman, 2014 (based on a true story)
  • Ray – Jamie Foxx, 2004 (based on a true story)
  • The banker – Anthony Mackie, Samuel L. Jackson, 2019 (based on a true story)
  • American gangster – Denzel Washington, 2007
  • 42 (Jackie Robinson) – Chadwich Boseman, 2013 (based on a true story)
  • Malcolm X – Denzel Washington, 1992 (based on a true story)
  • Ali – Will Smith, 2001 (based on a true story)
  • From the rough – Taraji P. Henson, 2013 (based on a true story)
  • Harriet – Cynthia Erivo, 2019 (based on a true story)
  • Coach carter – Samuel L. Jackson, 2005 (based on a true story)
  • Juice – Tupac, 1992 (based on a true story)
  • Menace II Society – Tyrin Turner, 1993 (a true-to-life portrayal of the streets in South Central Los Angeles)
  • Mudbound – Jason Mitchell, 2017 (Inspired from real-life experiences)
  • Remember the Titans – Denzel Washington, 2000 (based on a true story)
  • The express (Ernie Davis) – Rob Brown, 2008 (based on a true story)
  • Freedom writers – Hilary Swank, April Lee Hernández (based on a true story)
  • The great debaters – Denzel Washington, 2007 (based on a true story)
  • The butler – Oprah Winfrey, Forest Whitaker, 2013 (based on a true story)
  • McFarland, USA – Kevin Costner, 2015 (based on a true story)
  • Boyz N’ the hood – Cuba Gooding Jr., Ice Cube, 1991 (Inspired from real-life experiences of the director, John Singleton)
  • Mississippi burning – Willem Dafoe, 1988 (based on a true story)
  • Concussion – Will Smith, 2015 (based on a true story)
  • Fruitvale station – Michael B. Jordan, 2013 (based on a true story)
  • Hidden Figures – Taraji P. Henson, 2016 (inspired by a real-life incident)
  • Do the right thing – Spike Lee, 1989 (inspired by a real-life incident)
  • The blind side – Sandra Bullock, 2009 (inspired by a real-life incident)
  • Poetic justice – Tupac, Janet Jackson, 1993
  • Dope – Shameik Moore, Zoë Kravitz, 2015
  • Sorry to bother you – Lakeith Stanfield, 2018
  • Driving Miss Daisy – Morgan Freeman, 1989
  • Lean on me – Morgan Freeman, 1989
  • Loving – Joel Edgerton, 2016
  • Fences – Viola Davis, Denzel Washington, 2016
  • Roman J israel Esq. – Denzel Washington, 2017
  • The harder they fall – Zazie Beetz, Idris Elba, Jonathan Majors, Regina King, 2021
  • 12 years a slave
  • Dear white people
  • The help
  • American history X
  • Get out
  • Black panther
  • Django
  • Queen and Slim
  • Barbershop
  • Friday
  • If Beale street could talk
  • The hate you give

Artists are fascinating

My girl is my favorite artist of them all.

She can dance, draw, paint, she’s very handy and often makes amazing stuff out of thin air !

Some people were just born with that extra something, you know ?

I love simpin’ over her paintings and graffiti art, shit is truly mesmerizing.

Check this one out:

Echo by Mandy Rezeau-Merah, AKA Fuge

Pretty dope, innit ?

I would’ve loved to be so crafty. I mean, can you imagine being so deft that you can literally transcribe your imagination into amazing graffiti ?

Bruh !

I used to draw a lot as a kid, but then quickly grew out of it as I discovered the outdoors.

Being outdoorsy is cool but it’s hella time consuming fam !

I’ve noticed how most people from my generation know all the cartoons and series, always reminisce about their favorite shows and shit.

So, besides having always been an outsider, I’ve also never truly connected with my peers on that level. I spent most of my time outside, either climbing trees, riding bikes or kicking a ball.

The indoors was never for me, till now.

We all change I guess, don’t we ?

Here’s another one of my girl’s favorite creations:

ACAB by Fuge

Peace !

We meet people for a reason

We meet people for a reason.

Some will hurt you, others will build you up.

Some will help you grow, others will drain you.

Learn how to let go of those who don’t serve your wellbeing, don’t hold on to things and people out of sheer habit, learn how to value yourself and your time.

As a rule of thumb, I only hang out with those who recognize and understand my worth, friends who truly value my time and my presence.

It’s all about self-worth, fam.

Living in contrast 

Contrast is so important man !

Not just in photography, but in life in general.

Hear me out.

The fact that some days SUCK ASS is the reason why the good days are so cherished, don’t you think ?

I mean, it’s only normal for some days to suck, life on earth was never meant to be easy, it’s just a test.

Life is also all about change. We change, the world around us changes, nature is constantly changing. We evolve forward (and backwards), and the only constants in this life are time and love !

The contrast between our best and our worst days helps us magnify the good things that happen to us.

I think that’s beautiful !

As beautiful as our fading bad memories and our ability to forget.

Can you imagine a life where you’d remember all the bad things that’ve ever happened to you ? Bruh !

No man can handle that many memories, so be thankful for your ability to forget, it’s a true blessing !

Also, here’s a memory I never want to forget, from a trip to Kenya ❤

Trip to Kenya

I love Instagram

Instagram can and has helped so many youngsters make money, real money !

Instagram gave me a platform to express myself unlike any other platform since MySpace and Skyblog.

Although I’ve always loved blogging, Instagram gave “documenting” a whole new meaning: documenting through real life pictures.

I grew up in a family that wasn’t very artistic.

I barely have any pictures from my childhood. My parents had an old camera but only used it for special occasions.

As such, I was never really exposed to photography till my teen years.

But then shit CLICKED ! It clicked instantly !

When I got my first phone, I took pictures of everything ! I loved following my friends around with a camera at hand, I loved macro photography, printing photos and drawing over them (yeah, weird) etc.

I used to post lots of pictures on Hi5 and Skyblog. Captioning was also super fun for me back then !

Facebook also brought the best out of me. I got my first proper camera, a Nikon 7200D or something in 2010 and it was a game changer !

Instagram wasn’t around back then, but you could feel something was cooking in that sense, cause Facebook just wasn’t cutting it for photographers.

Fast forward a couple of years, I opened my IG and the rest is just wild !

At some point I was posting twice to three times a day !

Instant gratification is a crazy phenom’ dawg !

I just LOVED the feeling of sharing pictures of my travels with people. I loved the likes, the comments. I simply loved the fact something I created was appreciated by people I’ve never met in my life.

A creator’s high is addictive.

Instagram has evolved a lot throughout the years. The rise of stories and DMs was also a whole different ball game.

The ephemeral side of IG stories is what made them so special.

2016/2017 was the season in which I posted the most. I was posting 5 to 6 stories plus 1 to 2 posts A DAY ! I used to spend so many hours editing, coming up with captions and taking pictures.

It was a fun time I ain’t even gon’ front !

I enjoyed the heck out of it, but it was draining, and not just physically.

It’s mentally draining to be constantly seeking instant gratification and compliments, it fucks with your mental health HEAVY.

So I took a big break from it all in 2018.

At first it was supposed to be temporary, but then I just lost the need for validation. I learned how to enjoy life on the sidelines, how to be alone.

A friend of mine once summed up my mindset perfectly. He said “vivons bien, vivons cachés“, which roughly translates to “to lived happily requires one to keep things private”, or “secluded life is the happiest” (English proverb).

Thanks Luc !

Instagram is such a powerful tool if you know how to use it to your advantage. Don’t waste it !

Rastafarianism in a nutshell

Having lived in Ethiopia for 4+1 years, I’ve had the privilege to experience rastafarianism first hand.

But before we get into that, let’s break down what rastafarianism is, its roots and what we can all learn from some rasta practices.

  • Rastafarianism in a nutshell:

Rastafarianism is a spiritual movement that began in the 1930s by Marcus Garvey, in Jamaica. Rastafarians believe that God makes himself known through humanity.

The supreme man in rastafarianism is His Imperial Majesty Haile Selassie I, crowned emperor of Ethiopia in 1930.

Many rastas believe this event to be the Second Coming of Christ who returned to redeem all Black people.

Rastafarianism combines Protestant Christianity (they read the bible selectively), mysticism, and a pan-African political consciousness.

  • Here’s what I like about rastas:

Rastas are pretty health conscious.

They consider their body to be a temple, based on the Old Testament teachings.

Rastas do not drink alcohol or eat food that is not nourishing to their body, which includes meat. Many follow a strict dietary law called “ital”, which states that all food must be completely natural and raw.

Meat is considered to be dead food so, according to Rastafarian belief, consuming it turns the body into a ‘cemetery’.

“Ital” is a vegetarian diet principally intended to improve health and energy. It is thought that being vegetarian is to be closer to the universal energy and life force and to avoid bringing death to God’s creatures.

The aim of healthy eating, using the freshest and most natural food possible, is to increase livity, or ‘life energy’, in Rasta terminology.

  • Zion

Rastas see Africa as a paradise on earth, and at the core of the movement is the belief that all people of the African diaspora should return to their homeland.

If you’ve been to Africa before, you know it’s the beautiful continent on earth (with South America being close second).

Africa’s rich in culture, history, natural resources, animals, offers all types of climates and is the motherland of all humanity.

If there was such thing as a paradise on earth, Africa surely IS it.

Africa is often referred to as Zion, or Tsiyon in hebrew, which means “holy place” or “kingdom of heaven.”

  • What does it take to be a rasta?

To be a Rasta, you have to be a true man with your words, a true man to the planet, a true man to the living, and a true man to everything that is good.

Rastas are generally very laid back, kind and humane people.

Having spent some of my best years in Ethiopia as a teen and later, I’ve had the pleasure to chat with lots of rastas about spirituality, pan-African political consciousness and black empowerment.

For rastas, the way you treat yourself, starting with your body and your mind, sets the tone for everything you do.

You can’t respect others if you don’t respect yourself, and you can’t live harmoniously if you’re not right in your body and in your head.

Rastas believe in the principle of balance lifestyle, which includes the wearing of long hair in its natural, uncombed state (dreadlocks), dressing in the colours of red, green, gold, and black, which respectively symbolize the life force of blood, herbs, royalty, and Africanness.

  • Religious practices:

Religious rituals include prayer services, the smoking of ganja to achieve better “itation” (meditative state), and binghi (drum sessions).

  • Fun fact:

The movement takes its name from the emperor’s pre-coronation name, Ras Tafari.

The importance of father figures and mentors

I wanted to dedicate this blog post to our spiritual fathers and mentors

The people who turn boys into men

People with knowledge of self and a deep understanding of the word of God

People who understand their own purpose and the meaning of life


My spiritual father was an Ethiopian Orthodox, follower of the oriental Orthodox Church 

His name’s Dr. Temesgen and he lives (or lived) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, where I spent nearly 5 years as a teenager

Doc taught me so much about life man, so much !

The concept of paying it forward and the idea of giving back to the world was inspired by this man

Doc was the perfect mentor. He took me under his wing when I was barely 14, and I couldn’t be more grateful 

His teachings range from the importance of self-awareness, communication to the overall basics of health and diet

He was an exemplary individual

Down to earth, grateful, generous with his time and money, always with a smile on his face

His diet was the pinacle of excellence, his routines kept him looking young when he was way past his 70s

His diet consisted of boiled veggies, fruits and a small cup of freshly brewed coffee every morning

As an early-riser, the first thing he’d to do upon waking up was pray. After that, he’d put on his best attire and go about his business, day in, day out

A simple and yet perfect routine such as his is crucial for those looking to stay sharp and healthy

A good routine can keep you away from laziness, complacency and trouble, one of the most important lessons I’ve learned from Friday, or, The Other Island

Doc was such a lovely human being, one of the best I’ve ever met

I miss him dearly and wish I could have one last conversation with him

Doc (left)