Time to pause and contemplate the nature of things is a wonderful luxury. Many would consider it a necessity to actually maintain mental health and manage the demands of the 24/7 modern world. Quiet reflection also provides perspective with which we can make prudent decisions.
Unfortunately, the luxury of this time is the one thing that is becoming less available as almost every minute of every day is filled with screens, noise and entertainment. It seems as if no-one can cope with switching off anymore, lest they miss a social media ‘like’ or interaction.
Social media is dangerously addictive and it’s changing society. The website Psychology Today quotes a former Facebook executive who said of the social media giant:
“The short-term dopamine-driven feedback loops that we have created are destroying how society works… It literally is at a point now where I think we have created tools that are ripping apart the social fabric of how society works. That is truly where we are. I would encourage all of you, as the future leaders of the world to really internalize how important this is. If you feed the beast, that beast will destroy you.”
We can all observe how society has changed. A glance around almost any waiting room will find most people engaged with their “device”. Parents see their children walking around the house with their heads stuck in a screen. Even worse, people in the street don’t see the world around them – or where they are going - because they won’t lift their eyes.
Insiders describe the habit-forming nature of social media as a means of personal validation. That means when a person feels lonely, insecure, bored, happy, sad or virtually any other state of being, they check their phone. It grows to a stage where their self-worth is determined by the number of likes, shares, retweets or thumbs up they receive.
A lack of these positive reinforcements or negative feedback can have catastrophic consequences on the digitally obsessed. We regularly read or hear about the self-esteem and mental health issues attached to some of the most prolific social media users, usually when it is too late to help them.
However, there are other consequences too. Anecdotally, attention spans are getting shorter, common courtesies are less evident and personal behaviour (online and offline) that would previously be the preserve of those with limited intellect and no social graces, has become rather widespread.
People feel they have a right to communicate with others in the most crude and disgusting manner through both private and public forums. This lack of self-control is evidenced in other behaviour too. Criminal activity is sometimes described as “performance crime”, where people document their law-breaking through text, images and video, which are then digitally distributed to the public on a large scale.
No doubt, this is a means of getting the dopamine hit of more ‘thumbs up’ from the online zombies.
Reversing the current trend is a real challenge. It’s easy to say parents have an obligation to get children offline every day but unfortunately, many adults suffer from the same impulses.
Next time you are waiting for a bus or enjoying a coffee, see how many times you are tempted to reach for your phone. Even better, resist the temptation and use the time to contemplate and enjoy just how good the real world is.
Things that make you go Hmm…
Hinch goes too far, class warfare is for silly Billies and a Melbourne council’s graffiti classes cause anger and confusion. A radical release sparks fury, Gillette has a shaving cut and the PM clashes with a Minister. In Perth there’s a diddled donor, claims of cash for cruelty and bowlers battle the new wave.
China silences twits, gets tough on drugs as Taiwan loses its ‘bikini climber’. Orthodox Jews crash into the rainbow, here’s a sign of the times and Spaniards ban British bunting. A pro-life case is out of the Box, fake money puts a schoolkid in the sin bin and Fortnite has a laundry problem.