Twice in this past week, I have seen two social media giants; Apple and Facebook publicly admit with data, showing the severity of their concerns, as to how clearly your smartphone is making you antisocial, unhealthy and that their technology is designed to hook people using the same neural pathways as gambling and drugs.
In fact, both Chris Marcellino who was one of the developers behind the iPhone’s “push notifications” as well as Sean Parker, Ex-President to Facebook, recently admitted that the world-bestriding social media platform, was designed to hook users with spurts of dopamine, a complicated neurotransmitter being released when the brain expects a reward or receives fresh information.
‘You’re exploiting a vulnerability in human psychology” states Sean Parker.
In other words, we live in times when the “norm” for the average user is to look at their iPhone a minimum of 150 times daily, even though they believe it is only half as much as they actually do, which can equate over an average lifespan of 7 years, states Eric Andrew-Gee.
The developers of this technology knew this dirty little secret and that in the back of their mind this would take a toll on the end users, but despite this knowledge went ahead and developed it anyway with great financial gain for themselves.
The term ‘addiction’ was traditionally referred to as being addicted to drugs and alcohol, and only in the most recent years we have learned that ‘process addiction’ which includes gambling, food, sex, co-dependency, gaming, and global social media can be just as problematic as the original definition causing harm to individuals and families at a great cost.
So, you may think by now that this may seem like an innocuous problem and there are lots of issues to really be concerned about, but let me be clear if Facebook and Apple have concerns, so should you. Now I don’t want to completely bore you with data and statistics, but I will provide a high-level overview of why you need to worry,
With 2 billion users worldwide on Facebook, although well intended to increase connection, it has its drawbacks and we have now created a culture of zombies who would prefer to look into their screens of their iPhone when walking, driving or riding in an elevator rather than lift their head and smile and say hello!
We are losing the ability to communicate in a ‘live’ manner leaving us feeling less connected and socially inept as well as the lack of connection impacts directly on our overall health and happiness. This is not just only happening in our personal lives, but it has infiltrated into our business lives as well with Zoom conferences, telemedicine and Skype for business. I do believe there is efficiency for this type of technology, but too often than not, it is not utilized in a balanced manner.
Not to mention the countless motor vehicle accidents that could have been prevented, had someone not had to text and drive or take a call when their eyes needed to be on the road.
When we first enter recovery, we learn that our substance misuse had a purpose, it kept us from our feelings and understanding our underlying issues which drove us to ‘act out’ in the first place. In other words, it was a coping mechanism for us not to be able to feel what might be painful and uncomfortable for us.
Being constantly distracted and preoccupied with technology is no different, something is overriding our consciousness and has highjacked our brain.
This is where it becomes dangerous. Herd mentality; just because everyone is doing it, doesn’t necessarily mean it is in your best interest to do so and you may wish to try a different approach. It is no different than our culture today, where alcohol is embedded everywhere.
We celebrate just about everything in life with alcohol including births, weddings, coming of age, funerals, country weekends.
I am not putting judgment on whether someone does or does not drink alcohol, but we must remember that alcohol is ethanol which is a poison to the body. Which brings me to my original point of ‘herd mentality’, just because everyone is doing it doesn’t necessarily mean it is in your best interest or that it is good for you, or that you have to join in.
By now you may be asking what can you do when everyone around you is doing it?
Designate times and places that are technology free zones. You can start easily with no phones at the dinner table. Know your corporate policy at work.
Maybe at your next meeting, put your cell phone away, lead the way. Set some rules around what fits you and your family. Experiment by taking one day a week from being plugged in, yes 24 hours of no Wi-Fi, iPhone Gaming, or TV, witness what you notice.
By now you may be thinking it might be a good idea to get a head start on this trend as there is much discussion worldwide as to how to best manage the damage of being plugged in 24/7.
The way of the future is to encourage all of us to be more connected and that doesn’t mean only virtually anymore. Currently, there is a global movement emerging as Government Leaders, Businesses, Educators, Facebook, and Apple developers are becoming socially conscious and formulating policies as to how to mitigate the damage that too much technology can cause. They are trying to awaken us to the potential damage and empower us to walk through our lives more mindfully and just maybe, we may all have to disconnect to reconnect.