How many times have you seen a group of people ‘together’ yet somehow all glued to their phones, only interacting to show one another something funny on their phone?
Everywhere I look I see screens – computers, TVs, tablets, and phones – soon they will probably be affixed somehow to our bodies, with the wearable technology craze. The waiting room at the therapy centre I work at is always a buzz with children’s laughter (and shouting), but when I go out, seldom are they laughing with one another. They are usually hunched over a screen of some sort, eyes zipping around, finger at the ready, playing a game, updating status or checking out someone else’s virtual life through pictures.
There are many great qualities coming out of social media and the technology that we access it on; we stay connected to loved ones over long distances and can feel closer to them as if we are a part of their life. We fill our boredom with games, watch movies on the go and organise our lives using technology. We can also stay up to date with what is happening around the world with the touch of a button or swipe of a screen. However what I see increasing, is the temptation for this connectedness to our virtual worlds to precede our disconnectness from the real world. I believe in staying present with the moment and believe in the emotional intelligence, satisfaction and opportunities it brings. I also believe that if you are checking you phone while doing ANYTHING else, then you are not fully present with whatever it is that you are doing, as a part of your brain is still thinking about your virtual world.
Ok great, most of us know this already – what of it?
The New York Times recently posted an article (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/22/fashion/step-away-from-the-phone.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0) on the trend of NOT checking your phone. I cant think of a better trend since fluro shorts in the 90s (my dad called them jazzy pants). Some ways to incorporate this into your lives are; leaving a “phone jar” at the entry to your house, putting all the mobile phones in this jar until after dinner, or charging your phone in your living room instead of your bedroom. A way to make this a social way of not being social on your phone, is to stack your phones in the middle of a table when you go out and the first person who checks their phone before the bill comes, pays the tab! Sounds pretty good to me!
With so many studies (http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0069841;jsessionid=8134B8AD1C5669264F701E2B0E1912DE) suggesting that increased social media use is actually leading to depressive states, maybe this is a trend we can all get into? With so many kids growing up and socialising around technology, I hope this becomes the governing movement, as real social contact is not only a great way to prevent isolation (and the mental health issues that come with it) but is also a necessary part of the developing brain.
So heres to a society of people with developmentally normal brains!
Ray Medhora can be found practicing child and family therapy in Sydney Australia as well as training other aspiring counsellors to help them reach their goals.. Ray always feels odd writing in third person.