This is a very serious concern. Reported today on MSNBC:
Stuart Crabb, a director in the executive offices of Facebook, naturally likes to extol the extraordinary benefits of computers and smartphones. But like a growing number of technology leaders, he offers a warning: log off once in a while, and put them down.
In a place where technology is seen as an all-powerful answer, it is increasingly being seen as too powerful, even addictive.
The concern, voiced in conferences and in recent interviews with many top executives of technology companies, is that the lure of constant stimulation — the pervasive demand of pings, rings and updates — is creating a profound physical craving that can hurt productivity and personal interactions.
Have you ever felt a phantom vibration? You may already be addicted to your gadgets. I know this happens to me a lot. I’ll be sitting at my desk, writing or researching, and I’ll feel a buzz in my pocket, think I hear a humming, and reach for my phone and realize I left it in the other room, or it is turned off (rarely), or in the room but away from me. And when I go to check it, nothing–no call, no text, no alert notification whatsoever. The scary thing is I can recall these sorts of phantom calls happening since I had a cell phone, back in the early 2000′s. That means that this phenomenon has been occurring for at least a decade and I have been addicted for that long.
The dangers here are not just addiction, trouble focusing, and limited attention span, but also the physical stress these electronics are putting on us. How many times do we check Facebook a day? How many times do we look at phones for a text? We do it so unconsciously; because we crave the social attention we get from updating our status, uploading photos, forwarding along memes. If you’re like me, you’re one of the 68% of Americans who suffer hallucinations in the form of phantom vibrations.
That is scary. But one must ask, how do we stop it? You cannot stop technology since society and technology are so intricately connected–our economics depend on it now; we are forever a part of the revolution and evolution of the technological aeon and we cannot simply ignore it. So where does that leave us? We may put our phones away for a bit, maybe step away from the computer–pick up a book, go outside, do something without our technology. But the fact remains that we have to come back to it. At some point, we have to come back. Whether for our jobs, for our family, for our entertainment, for our livelihoods.
So what is to be done?