A few weeks ago, I began to really notice just how frequently that I was absorbed by my iphone…even when there was nothing to ‘check’. I quickly realized that it had become habitual, and that I would just be using my phone when there was simple downtime. Rather than look around and enjoy the world around me, I was incapable of just relaxing. There was this odd feeling that I was going to be ‘missing something’ if I wasn’t checking email, text, Facebook, Twitter, etc.
Added to this was the fact that the content which I was consuming – and I use this term VERY loosely – was of little to no substance. The closest thing that I can describe it as is ‘empty digital calories’. It was something that was simply becoming a massive distraction and nothing else.
As I began to look around more and more, I noticed just how prevalent this behavior is. Everywhere you look people are hunched over their phones and vapidly scrolling away. This was even more disturbing when I would see people (myself included at times) ignoring their kids or just telling them to ‘..hold on a second…’ so that they could read some random post, tweet, or text. My other favorite new social ‘trait’ is that when the phone notification sound occurs, its apparently ok to check it immediately – even while the person is still talking!
Again, I’m just as guilty as anyone in this category, and I’m sure that some of that information that people are consuming is important and relevant – maps, texts, checking the weather, whatever – but I’d also bet that much of it is just crap and killing time.
Something important happened a few years back, when we switched from a technological ‘PULL’ society to a ‘PUSH’ society. We used to have to go and GET information – from Google, email, the web. That’s all changed now. First it was Blackberry pushing email to phones, causing the damn thing to vibrate to let us know we were ‘important’. Today, social media and smartphones have us operating in a “stream mentality” in which data is constantly flowing in AT US…push notifications popping up on our phones constantly…all competing for our attention.
The biggest offender for me, BY FAR, was Facebook. This was a massive time suck for me, and it was the place that I’d end up going to out of sheer boredom.
It’s not Facebook’s fault. They make a great product that has changed the depth and availability of the way that people interact with each other, and I’ve been able to stay in touch with people at a level not seen before thru technology. The problem is that it creates this weird re-wiring of my brain. I’ve dismissed privacy in exchange for some little red notification icon that provides a drop of dopamine. This is dangerous behavior because you begin to sacrifice good judgement for entertainment. In a way, intentionally or not, this is what Facebook is designed to do, especially as the data mining and advertising models begin creep in.
So I quit.
I signed out on my laptop.
I deleted the Facebook app from my iPhone and iPad.
Honestly, the first few days were odd, but its been 3 weeks now and I’m happier than I ever thought I’d be.
Personally, over the past few weeks I’ve begun to feel less digitally ‘cluttered’ with one less thing to ‘check’ or have pushed to me. I get information more on my timing and terms, and I’m surprisingly very happy. I’d recommend trying it…esp if the thought of doing it gives you the chills…as you might have more of a problem that you realize.
While I do miss knowing about what my friends and family are doing, seeing, saying, etc – it’s not at the expense of the feeling that I ‘need’ to check in or I’ll miss something, or the fact that my life is now for sale to the highest bidder.
Yes, I understand the hypocrisy of the fact that this is the business which I work in, along with the fact that I have this sudden conviction to stop selling my personal marketing data in exchange for seeing cat posts. However, maybe that’s why I understand just how dangerous this all is. The returns simply aren’t there for me anymore in exchange for the content I’m getting out of Facebook.
So if anyone has the odd interest to read my random thoughts, it’s all still available here (www.davidzakur.com).
As for my family and friends who care about our kid pics and entertaining moments raising children, I’ll always continue to post the all of our family adventures at www.zakurfamily.com. It’ll just be on my terms.