Are we all just addicted to our phones? To information?
I’ve been reading a lot on this topic lately. It started with reading Christina Crook’s The Joy of Missing Out: Finding Balance in a Wired World.
We’re all familiar with FOMO, right? FOMO is fear of missing out. We are on FB and Instagram every moment of every day, because we’re afraid if we’re not, we’ll miss something. Well, JOMO (joy of missing out) is the opposite–it’s taking joy in missing out on the digital world, and re-forming alliances with your “real” life.
Larry King recently did a whole episode about how our phones are increasing depression and social media addiction.
And yes, I get it. It seems like everywhere I go, I see people walking, eating, waiting in line, with their heads down in their phones. We never have to be alone anymore. Ever. There’s always someone out there on Facebook or Twitter or Snapchat that we can connect with. That’s a powerful thing.
But the downside? It’s taking us out of the moment. If we spend all of our time taking photos of flowers, do we ever get to actually enjoy the flowers? If we spend our whole time looking down at our phones, when do we look up and see the beautiful sky or the moon? If we eat dinner at a restaurant, and spend the whole time looking at our phones, do we get a chance to make a connection with another human being?
The information, the technology, the end of loneliness–these are all good things. But are we taking it too far? Are our online relationships replacing real-life relationships? Is all that information too much for us to process, causing us to feel overwhelmed? Are all those perfect pretty instagrams making us feel less worthy, and therefore causing depression?
I don’t know. Maybe.
How much of it is “we don’t understand this. We’ve never been here before. So it must be bad, because it’s not how we were brought up.” In other words, generational bias.
How much of it is fearmongering, to make flashy stories for the media that will sell, or even just plain, old fashioned bull shit?
I’m also reading #AskGaryVee: One Entrepreneur’s Take on Leadership, Social Media, and Self-Awareness right now, and there’s a chapter where he talks about parenting:
Worrying that tech will rob them the pleasures of childhood is akin to previous generations worrying their kids will be soft because they have indoor plumbing, or that rock ‘n’ roll will make them degenerates, or that their brains will rot from too much TV. Every generation fears for the next one…
A couple weeks ago, I caught up with some friends that I’d not seen IRL in about a year. We had a great conversation over lunch about all kinds of things. But you know what we didn’t have to talk about? Boring, menial stuff, like what their new home was like, how their jobs were, what grade the kids were in. Because I knew all that already. From Facebook. Furthermore, without the Facebook connection, I may not have even had the guts to connect with them IRL, because I may have let that relationship go so long that I’d be embarrassed to ask them if they wanted to hang out.
Did we take selfies of the moment and photos of our grilled cheeses? Yeah. But we also talked about some pretty deep and interesting things.
So, I guess I fall somewhere in the middle. I love my phone. It’s a fantastic tool. It keeps me in touch with work, friends, and my son. Maybe sometimes I spend too much time on there. But sometimes I don’t. I go for a walk or ride my bike or go to yoga. Sometimes when I’m waiting in line at Costco or drinking a coffee at Starbucks, I do absolutely nothing. Just think. About stuff.
I don’t think it has to be one or the other–a restriction of how much time we spend OR spending all our time on there. There’s a middle ground, and it’s simply about being mindful. For me, where we start to get into trouble is when we mindlessly reach for our phones to distract us instead of dealing with what’s at hand: loneliness, unhappiness, or dissatisfaction. In that case, no, it’s not the right choice. Although social networks can be a source of support for you if you are struggling or going through a crisis.
Okay, enough from me. I could go on all day about this. What about you? Do you think “social media addiction” is a thing? Or just generational bias? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comment section below.