The Danger of Digital Addiction

June 14, 2012 Social Influence no comments

Are you addicted to social networks? (courtesy of Salsafrica Blog)

I’ve just watched a TED video featuring a highly impactful talk by psychologist Sherry Turkle on how we’re all becoming increasingly connected while becoming increasingly alone.

It really set me thinking. Hard.

Quoting from Sherry:

“We’re lonely, but we’re afraid of intimacy. And so from social networks to sociable robots, we’re designing technologies that will give us the illusion of companionship without the demands of friendship.”

Do spend some time watching the talk below:

By focusing our attention on the screens in front of us, we escape from the realities of our relationships and situations at work, at home and at play.

We are constantly shifting our attention from one screen to another. From talking to a friend face-to-face while WhatsApp-ing another. From listening to a presentation while having our own back conversations on Twitter.

Our focus and concentration has been totally obliterated into bite-sized atoms. With hundreds or thousands of friends/followers/likers (and lurkers) to cultivate, all we can afford is a sentence here or a snide remark there.

When I look around me on public buses, trains and shopping centres, I couldn’t help noticing that everybody around me is staring hard into a smart phone.

I myself am guilty of this, although I try to immerse myself more in books than in following up on the ceaseless and unending updates on social networks.

As Sherry rightfully pointed out, the new adage is “I share, therefore I am”.

“I share, therefore I am.” – Sherry Turkle

By texting, sharing photos, commenting and posting videos of ourselves on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube, Google+ and myriad other platforms, we feel more complete, connected and “alive” as a being.

Like a friend who will never say “no” to you or tell you what you don’t want to hear, your mobile devices sometimes become more important than the real flesh and blood person standing in front of you.

How often have you spent time with your family members or friends, staring at the big or small screens in front of you, with nary a word passing between you?

Its a paradox that the more connected we are, the most isolated we end up becoming.

What’s especially ironical is that we are so addicted to these devices that we’re afraid of being with ourselves. Literally and metaphorically.

The most crushing phenomenon of our 24/7, always online and always on lifestyles is its effect on the younger generation.

Teens these days have lost the ability to conduct a decent conversation. They become fidgety, nervous, and agitated when pulled away from these screens.

Honestly speaking, so do many of us “non-teens”!

Perhaps now is the time for us to regain our physical, emotional and mental selves away from the digitised bits.

Let us put away those devices when the time comes for us to talk to one another, play, laugh and sleep. Let us give the people around us – our family, our friends, our associates, our colleagues – our attention and focus wherever we can, even when they ramble. Let us learn to listen and to engage each other again.

By Walter
Founder of Cooler Insights, I am a geek marketer with almost 24 years of senior management experience in marketing, public relations and strategic planning. Since becoming an entrepreneur 5 years ago, my team and I have helped 58 companies and over 2,200 trainees in digital marketing, focusing on content, social media and brand storytelling.

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