Two wonderful things happened today. Apple announced it’s next iPhone device – complete with 1500 new ‘features’ – and the New York Times published an article on how our electronic devices are changing our lives – and probably not for the better.
Sure, I love gadgets as much as the next geek. I have more experience with smart phones than most people. I’ve had Palm Pilots, Windows Mobile, Blackberry, iPhone, Android – all of them – I’ve either owned or have spent significant time with. Perhaps this puts me in an awkward position. I think I may have seen the future. I for one, don’t like it. I want to go backwards.
When was the last time you sat down and watched a movie without checking email, Facebook or Twitter? It’s been awhile, hasn’t it? There was a time that we flocked to the movie theater to be entertained by a movie – and only a movie. We weren’t expecting to look down when we got bored and check in with the world and see if anything had changed. Before our smart phones, we were attentive to the movie – even when it wasn’t that interesting.
It’s not natural to be so distracted all the time. The root of this problem may be simpler than you realize, however.
Maybe social media, smart phones and web 2.0 are the new Tobacco. Remember (if you were ever into this sort of thing) when you could sit at the local pub, drag on your cigarette and drink your booze? Time would pass quietly, without fidgeting and you enjoyed it. You had a distraction that gave you a high. Perhaps, as the NYT article suggests, we’ve given up the cancer stick high in exchange for the iPhone high. After all, these things are addictive. I’ll support that claim any day of the week.
Back in the day, you wouldn’t smoke 3 packs of cigarettes in one day, but I fear that’s what we’re doing to ourselves with our electronic gadgets. Every time we pick up our phone, write another tweet or engage in mindless web browsing – we are in fact smoking another cigarette. Do we know how much is too much? I don’t think we do. It may not be dirty, stinky and coating our lungs with God-knows-what, but the high is there to keep us sucking in more content, tweets and status updates. You can do it in meetings, at the dinner table, in bed – wherever – and you don’t get chastised as a social outcast. You get your electronic nicotine. Nobody is the wiser. They’re probably doing it, too.
What are the consequences of this electronic addiction? Strained eyes, carpel tunnel, exhaustion, poor nutrition, degrading of social skills – I could go on for awhile. Any way you slice it, the benefits of the electronic age may not be all it’s cracked up to be. In fact, this could be a sign that we’ve taken things too far and are quickly losing the sight of the big picture: Our own Health and Well-being.
I want to quit cold turkey. It feels like doing so might kill me, though. That’s a powerful addiction.
So before you check your Facebook for the 10th time since you awoke this morning (and it’s not even lunch yet), consider that perhaps you’ve just picked up a nasty habit. If it’s as bad as I think it is, it may not be easy to quit. It may be time to start considering how to cut back.
Steve’s got us hooked.