The cat is out of the bag. Our brains have been rewired, our dopamine levels are being manipulated, our attention spans have been diminished, our eyes are glued to our screens, our thumbs are beginning to look like Popeye’s forearms, and our real-life, human relationships are being overrun by the hundreds and even thousands of online “friends.”
So, it shouldn’t be surprising that some of the smartest investors and early pioneers from Silicon Valley are concerned about the social impact and implications of the technology and new media environment we’re swimming in.
Agree or disagree with the long list of unintended negative consequences, it’s hard to dispute that a majority of digital native millennials are addicted to technology and all that it delivers to the screen that you’re staring at right now. And it’s not just people under 30; add me to that list!
Three points to ponder:
1. Do you believe this is a problem that’s big enough to warrant your concern and, more importantly, is it serious enough to take action? If so, start with yourself and consider a digital detox.
2. If you are responsible for a live event or attend live events, do you use the live environment to do what it is intended to do: connect human beings in physical proximity to learn, be inspired, solve a problem or advance an opportunity that is best accomplished when you’re eye to eye with an actual person? If not, try turning off your device and being present for a big block of time.
3. When Abraham Maslow revealed our need for belonging, I don’t think he was suggesting that quantity of relationships was what our souls require. How many real relationships do you have, and are you nurturing them and devoting the time to those that matter most? Do you really have more than 10 true friends?
I’ll admit I am dependent on my phone. Here are three things I’m doing to curb my attachment to the screen.
1. Safe room: No more phone next to my bed. I know it’s your alarm, but dust off that old $9.99 clock, and go old school.
2. Holster that weapon: I NEVER have my phone out when I’m with other people. I see it as a sign of respect for the people I’m with.
3. Just so you know: If I’m with other people or in a meeting taking notes on a screen, I let them know what I’m doing so they know I’m paying attention.
Nothing revolutionary, but it’s a good start for me to focus and break the patterns that have become so familiar and, I think, destructive to my ability to be present.
Maybe it’s time to make our worlds a little smaller, more intimate and truly social.