Yesterday I read an article about how software designers are programming apps to make us addicted to our Smartphones. I think it is true. Before I had a Smartphone I was constantly amazed at how much time people spent on their phones. After I bought my first Smartphone I found myself becoming one of those people. I slowly found myself constantly checking personal emails, text messages, the Weather Channel, CNN, Facebook, and more. Some of my co-workers are even worse because they have an app that allows them to read work related emails on their personal Smartphones. So far I have resisted that temptation and I am resistant to being told I must do it. In all fairness my Smartphone is great for staying in touch with important people in my life. I love it that I can text my granddaughter and other distant friends. There are also some amazing and helpful apps that I like. One example is my Amazon app that allows me to order a book or a CD during a staff meeting when my manager thinks I am paying attention to the group conversation. Another is my Fitbit app that allows me to see how many steps I am walking in a day. One of my favorite is a meditation app that rings a Tibetan gong to let me know when a meditation session is complete. I also have a Mindfulness bell that rings periodically throughout the day to remind me to breathe. Admittedly I have turned that one off during work hours because it freaked out my co-workers and occasionally made them jump. Did I mention my tip calculator? One final app called WAZE alerts me to traffic conditions wherever I am. Having all these tools at your fingertips is very helpful at times but I think it is the social media stuff that is truly addictive. Why? I think many of us are lonelier than we care to admit and we have a primal need to feel connected to others no matter how distant or causal the relationship may be. Let’s be honest about “friends” and even family. I have approximately 350 Facebook friends, including extended family members, but only a handful of them are true friends. I think part of the social media addiction is also related to our egos. Most of us, if we are honest, love to put stuff out there and have other people react to it. How many “likes” did we get and who actually liked it? I fell into this trap with my blog which tracks how many people read it and where they are. At last count it was 58,317 people from countries all over the world. Some people in other countries have written nice emails to me and now we are Facebook friends. When I think of modern communication technology I am sometimes reminded that I went through my high school and college years without a beeper or a cell phone. My generation still managed to connect with one another and it was always in person. Today I have friends I have never actually met.
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