Today I came across this post by my friend Paul Sohn, which he posted publicly available to the whole world to see. It makes me think once again about a problem I’ve noticed for years now, and it’s a problem that is only getting worst: Smart phones.
I’ve noticed in public places people are glued to their smart phones. Here are some examples I’ve personally seen:
- People are on their smart phones when taking the escalator in the subway
- I saw a person on his smart phone when walking up stairs
- I saw mothers walking with their baby carriage looking at their smart phones
- I saw people crossing the street while texting on their smart phone
- I saw people texting while driving
- I saw 6 people at a restaurant dinner table, all on their smart phones. Maybe they are all texting their friends who are still yet to arrive?
Whenever I see people texting while walking, I always want to smack them on the head. First, what is so important that you must type in your smart phone while walking? Second, stop being selfish and holding up traffic!
Numerous articles have already been written on this “nophone-phenomena”, where people without their smart phones get anxious and nervous. People’s attention spans are getting shorter and shorter. Say if you’re in a meeting or presentation. If your presentation does not capture people’s attention in as little as 30 seconds, someone’s going to whip out their smart phone and start e-mailing or checking Facebook.
I realized the need to control social media and notifications of new e-mails. On my smart phone, I turned off notifications for new e-mails and some social media notifications. Otherwise I’ll keep checking my phone and get nothing done. I’ve been told that someone with an Apple Watch found it super annoying because it buzzes so often with each new notification.
We are a “microwave” generation
I’ve noticed that we want everything faster. This culture has taught us that faster is better. Each time Apple comes out with a new iPhone, it talks about how much faster the phone is, how much faster the phone boots up, the browser loads, etc.
We want everything to be instantaneous. Instant food, instant messaging, instant news, etc. Nobody likes waiting. Yet so many other parts of life cannot be “instant”, such as relationship building. I think the expectation for “instantaneous” is putting enormous stress in relationships in today’s world. People just don’t have the attention span or patience anymore.
One of the symptoms is the “entertain me” symptom. This generation is often looking for a new video or a video game, or new gadget or technology to entertain them.
There is no quick fix to this epidemic. Technology is in every part of our lives. We have to proactively take steps so that it does not control us. Put the smart phone away. Turn off the notifications. Go on retreats without technology. It’s important for our mental health, our relationships, and for our social lives.
We need to control technology, not let it control us.