The Age of (Dis)Connection

Has our society devolved due to technology?

It’s a provocative question, isn’t it? I’ve spent the past 10 years personally and professionally watching the evolution of this, believe that parts of our society are being damaged by it, and my belief is that this is only going to get worse.

The Facts

-Did you know that the World Health Organization has as of January 2018, listed “gaming disorder” in their international classification of diseases? Defined as a pattern of gaming behavior characterized by impaired control over gaming, increasing priority given to gaming over other activities to the extent that gaming takes precedence over other interests and daily activities, and continuation or escalation of gaming despite the occurrence of negative consequences”

-A study was released last year that found teenagers who spent five or more hours per day on their smart devices (tablet, smartphone, etc.) were 71% more likely to have one risk factor for suicide. The study pointed to the fact that this was regardless of the type of content consumed. So, whether teens were spending their time “socializing” or spending their time watching YouTube, or even playing video games on their smartphones, the likelihood of depression was higher the more of it they consumed. 

-Suicide is the NUMBER 2 leading cause of death among adolescents aged 15-19. 

So We Should Get Rid of ALL Technolgy?

I know, I know, I know. “Rory is a Luddite and wishes we all lived in the stone age”… Noooo… but I’ve heard all that before. I use technology. My family uses technology. Heck, my 89 year old grandfather has a robot named “Robbie” that drives around his house and mows his lawn ON ITS OWN! (Skynet anyone?) I find technology very useful, albeit annoying sometimes. Here’s the thing though, I find that even I have a hard time not allowing the technology to invade my life. If I have my phone on me, and I’m bored, I end up mindlessly scrolling through it, and minutes turn into hours VERY quickly. I’m not advocating for a massive Electro Magnetic Pulse to wipe out technology as we know it, but I am a staunch advocate for restrictions in our own lives since the overwhelming evidence is that this is good for us to do.

What’s the Solution?

So what do I advocate? I’ll keep it short and sweet because I believe was can all achieve this in our daily lives.

1)   Write down what you think is important to you about using this technology all the time. Do you believe it keeps you in contact and connected with your friends? Are you in fear that it will impact your ability to work from home? Will you be bored without the constant entertainment? It’s important you write this down and put it in a drawer somewhere until the experiment is completed.

2)   Go technology DRY for a week (social media, games, YouTube, etc.) Use your phone for talk and text as needed, but go ahead and delete the apps you spend your time on right off of there… Trust me, the companies will make it VERY easy to download later right where you left off. Why delete the apps? To avoid all temptation in cheating.

3)   Pick “blackout” hours where your phone is not physically near you. I choose to leave my phone in the other room because if it isn’t, the temptation to do SOMETHING on it is too great. It’s best to create a geographical separation when possible.

4)   Journal/Track what you think about, what you do with your time, what your feelings are during this week and review with what you had thought the outcome would be.

Analyze Your Outcome

The results to this may be different than what you think. For me, I found that with my new found time my relationship with my wife was better, I ate better meals, I spent QUALITY time with friends instead of “connecting” with them via social media, I worked more efficiently at work because I knew that I would be leaving work behind when I was not working, and most importantly, I found that I was only “bored” for the first few days, after that I just found myself working on projects I had been putting off, going for walks, and sometimes just DAYDREAMING. I’ll save that rant for another day, but suffice to say, there is some pretty compelling research that speaks to “deep thought” occurring when your brain isn’t distracted, and is just allowed to daydream. Compelling stuff if you’re interested to look into it further.

I’m not here to be the internet police. I’m not even here to be the internet security guard. However, I am here to be honest, and when I’m honest, I have to say that society on both the micro and macro level, has in SOME ways taken a huge step back BECAUSE of technology. Do yourself a favor and analyze your personal behavior patterns, and the behavior patterns in your family as it relates to this. I think if most families are honest with themselves, they too will see they need to make a change and the answer will likely be REDUCING the impact of technology on their lives.