If you are a regular reader than you know how I feel about the current state of our always 'connected' culture: I hate it and I think our society is going to HELL-IN-A-HANDBAG. I think its creating a population of narcissistic, zoned out, self-centered desensitized automatons.
I am well aware that I am in the minority here. Most people I know have wholeheartedly embraced this obsession with texting/phoning/surfing/downloading every minute of every day. I think it is FUCKING RIDICULOUS and DANGEROUS! The biggest problem on our roads now is not impaired driving, but distracted driving.
What I hate the most is how smart phones are breaking down human interaction and relationships. I have seen this for a while among couples in my counselling practice. For some, checking texts/emails/playing games/etc. is an addiction and it can interfere not only with intimacy but with work and other obligations. This is a real problem!
Well, according to some research discussed in April's issue of Psychology Today, there is now data suggesting this is significant problem. Smartphone use is gaining on sex, money and kids as one of the top issues couples fight about most. Loved ones of heavy users report lower overall sense of well-being. It undermines self-esteem, and can induce anger and anxiety. Not a surprise to me. It certainly makes me angry when I am trying to engage with someone and they get distracted by their damn device. Its so rude, narcissistic and obnoxious it makes me want to scream!
To be honest, I worry about our kids the most. They are growing up with this behaviour as the norm. I can't imagine how this is affecting them. A few weeks ago I was waiting for Big A to finish her dance class. Beside me, another parent was texting. When the kids began to stream out of the classroom, I greeted Big A and asked about class while she put her boots and coat on. That other parent? She continued texting, not even acknowledging her daughter for a good 3-4 minutes. Finally when she finished the exchange, she looked up and began talking to her kid. Like WTF?
Actually, I get very depressed when I am at the dance school and I watch the teens there interacting...or not really interacting with each other. By the age of 12, most kids these days already seem addicted to playing games and texting. Oh, and don't even get me started on "Selfies!" Its no surprise to me that number of selfies posted on line correlates with a persons' score on tests of narcissism. Everything about the whole selfie thing makes me absolutely cringe.
Well, sorry if I am starting to rant, but, hey, this is my blog and I'll rant if I want to. I wish I could actually write an article about this and publish it in an actual newspaper, but no one reads things written on paper anymore. Speaking of which, I really don't get how people read novels on a device. A kindle type thing is bad enough, but now people are downloading books onto their phones. Maybe my astonishment reflects my poor eye sight and the fact that that would just be incredibly challenging for me. I will also admit, while I'm at it, that one of the many reasons I hate texting is that I have unusually fat thumbs which make it difficult for me to push the correct button. No joke! I am a tiny woman but my hands could belong to a sumo wrestler.
Anyways, Dr. Guy Winch, who wrote the article in Psychology Today suggests that people:
1. Assess the extent to which technoference may be affecting your life and relationships
2. Distinguish between valid usage and excessive/unnecessary usage of your device
3. Negotiate fair expectations with your partner/loved ones about your usage to find better balance
4. Establish technology-free zones and time periods
5. Address exceptions and problems-solve future possible hurdles with regards to your technology usage
I am hoping that as a culture, we eventually establish norms for usage that bring the situation under control. Perhaps it will be like smoking, which used to be permitted everywhere, until we realized the perils of this. Just as it is now illegal to phone/text while driving maybe we will develop other restrictions in order to bring some semblance of balance back to our society. Here's hoping...