Here’s a familiar picture: a family or group of friends are sitting around a table or living room, but none of them are talking to each other because they’re all busy on their phones, tablets, computers, or other smart devices.
Sound like something you’ve seen? Of course you have! Given how prevalent these devices are, it’s a scenario that plays out a million times a day in a million places around the world.
Let’s get one thing clear: technology is definitely a good thing! It has proved a greater sense of connectivity between every country in the world, provides instant access to entertainment and information, and even enhances our daily lives. However, like anything else in the world, technology isn’t all good.
Many experts have begun to ask «Does technology make us more alone?» The answer to that question is, sadly, a resounding yes.
Here are just a few of the technology negative effects that are becoming more and more common:
The «fear of missing out» is one that grips millions of social media users around the world. When they see their friends, family, or random strangers engaging in an activity they enjoy, they get that fear of missing out on something fun. Thus, they spend their lives trying to «keep up» with the people in their online circle so they don’t feel like they’re missing out on an exciting activity. This can be both exhausting and harmful to your emotional health.
How many times have you looked with envy at the pictures of that friend who always seems to be on vacation or that family member whose life seems better than yours? Being human, probably a lot more often than you care to admit!
It’s human nature to compare ourselves to others, and it’s easy to feel like our lives are somehow lacking because we don’t have all the great things we see someone else having. Thanks to social media, this has become a whole lot harder to avoid!
Remember that scenario with everyone sitting around a table yet no one talking? This is becoming more and more common, and it’s leading to isolation. People depend on social media to keep them connected to others, but all it’s doing is isolating them from the people around them.
We can go to a chat room, forum, or social media group where we can talk to people who share our passions or interests, but that doesn’t mean you’re truly connected to those people. When you stand up from the computer or turn off your phone, you find yourself alone in a world of strangers. Because of all the time you’ve spent forming bonds with people online, you haven’t invested any time in the people around you.
We can go through our lives telling ourselves we’re connected to the friends we make online, but the truth is that we’re still as isolated as ever. Humans need physical, face-to-face connection, and without it, depression, loneliness, and anxiety become very real threats to your wellbeing.
Dependence on «Likes»
Likes, shares, and re-tweets have become a metric by which we judge ourselves. We have come to believe that more of them means more approval from others. Some people actually base their entire sense of self-worth on how much of this artificial approval they receive.
This is a dangerous precedent to set! The day you stop getting those likes, shares, and re-tweets, how will you feel that sense of approval from others? If you’re so dependant on it, you may find yourself feeling like there’s something lacking in your life—or worse, that you’re somehow lacking as a person—because of its absence.
«Social media speak» is a real thing! From acronyms (ROFL, LOL, AFK, BRB, and more) to misspelled simple words (teh, deez, dat, and way too many more), technology has made us much lazier when it comes to basic communication. Punctuation and capitalization are a thing of the past when texting with friends, and everything is about emojis, GIFs, and funny images.
All of this serves as a crutch for real, genuine communication. Instead of telling someone how we feel about a situation, we share a broken heart or sad face emoji. Instead of actually saying something funny, we post a picture that made us laugh. Communication has broken down because we are looking for the shortest, laziest way to say what we want.
Addiction to Entertainment and Social Media
How many of us spend hours playing mobile games, checking out our friends’ social media accounts, or scrolling through the news? Thanks to the 24/7 access to entertainment and content, we have become addicted to everything that is available.
From bingeing Netflix to scrolling through the Instagram feeds to follow thousands of people on Twitter, it’s easy to get access to as much content as you want. Over time, many people develop a reliance on that content, which begins to serve as their «go-to» for enjoyment. Once again, the time that you’re spending entertaining yourself via technology takes away from time that you could connect or interact with real-live humans.
Lack of Genuine Connectivity
If you’re striking up conversations with random strangers every day, how will you ever get to anything «real»? All conversations start with the shallow things, and it takes time to progress to deeper topics, the topics that help you to really get to know someone. No matter how many new conversations you have every day, you won’t be able to genuinely connect with others until you open up and talk about those deeper subjects.
The truth is that technology has a lot of awesome benefits, but there are also downsides to it. Just because it makes life easier, that doesn’t mean we should depend on it. Understanding this truth can help you to realize the danger of getting too sucked into your technology, and you can find ways to «break free» and spend time interacting with others—the best way to combat loneliness and isolation!