Technology addictions hurting real-life social interactions

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Winston Anderson

Facebook is one of the world's biggest digital addictions right now.

People rarely take walks or exercise, and even when they do, they include their
technology with them. They would rather text someone out of visual capacity throughout their walk instead of enjoying the scenery or attempting to speak with a companion they are traveling with in person. The separation between man, nature and technology is at a devastating climax. Some people never leave their house in an entire day and would rather stay inside, consumed by their devices than get fresh air or verbally communicate with people within proximity. A lot of people would rather purchase and eat conveniently made fast food meal and text amongst themselves in the restaurant than cook an actual dinner and sit at the table to eat with the entire family discussing everyone’s day. At this point texting has even reached the dinner table; with each member using their device of choice instead of speaking amongst each other. Technology is breaking up the family structure in more ways than one.

Life generally seems incomplete without technology to the modern man.  The digital world is more important than what’s real. Instead of tasting the coffee and smelling the roses, a lot of people would prefer to look at pictures of both on Instagram. You only get one life, and if you waste time being consumed for entertainment value, you will miss out on what’s important. Academic achievement, accomplishing career goals, enjoying important milestones in your child’s life and development as well as family moments are all great irreplaceable experiences that people are skimping out on in order to satisfy their addictions for technology and social networking. If we don’t end the addictions to the vices of technology, we are surely doomed.

Technology, while increasing in number of uses, durability and affordability for the common person is also changing the entire spectrum of how people spend their free time in the modern day. Free time is literally indicated as any time that you are not occupied by some sort of official duty at this point in history. When most people have a moment alone, they just can’t help but to look on their phone. Before a class starts, people text, risk getting caught during class to text and text as soon as it’s over. People whip out their cellular devices at the very moment a film ends in a movie theater. They have no idea just how addicted they are to their devices. From texting, to Facebook, to PS4 consoles, technology and social media are making people spend less time in the real world and more time in the digital world. They are consumed by their devices and addicted to using them without even knowing.

Instead of using these devices and websites to be convenient and entertain momentarily in down time,  people turn luxuries into priorities and spend top dollar on goods they don’t need.  These devices were meant to make life easier, and social media was meant to easily connect business relationships and reach out to family and friends out of proximity. This entertainment was designed for specific short lengths of time to use. Now both are used at all points in the day, every day, with no rests or breaks. The amount of time-consuming activity displayed by technology and social media users proves how addicted we are.

For example texting holds prolific prominence of influence when it comes to convenient means of communication.  The convenience makes conversations much easier to take place in busier settings or times that someone cannot communicate verbally.  However many people abuse this convenient way to speak to others and use it constantly, even in professional settings in unprofessional ways. People text message others during class, on the job, while walking, in restaurants, while driving a car and throughout any other venue. Often the conversations are meaningless but distract people from performing normal functions in order to be momentarily entertained.

Text messages seem like small surprises that people cannot seem to resist from opening up just to see what someone else has said to them that may be completely irrelevant. This can cause work to be unfinished, car crashes, shortening of the average attention span and lessening of social skills with verbal conversation.  According to Textinganddrivingsafety.com, in 2011, at least 23 percent of auto collisions, or 1.3 million disasters, were caused by the usage of a cellphone. Text messages lack emphasis and are extremely impersonal, indirect and unclear. It’s hard to judge just what is being said because they lack tone and feeling. This causes much miscommunication in conversations via text message.

Texting while surfing the web is a common thing for the typical student.
Photo taken by Winston Anderson

In addition, it also makes people less vocal and prefer to interact through technology rather than with someone right in front of them. Instead of talking to someone across the room, it is more “fun” to just text them. This affects someone socially when they continue to communicate this way abundantly in their everyday life. Not to mention the fact that there are people who spend more time texting and enjoying social networking than actually raising their children or even paying attention to them.

Social networking sites are at an all-time high and many people are highly addicted to them. According to Facebook.com, there were 1.15 billion monthly active users of Facebook as of June 2013. Approximately 819 million used Facebook through a mobile product and 699 million are on Facebook period daily. Those numbers prove just how many people spend their free time on Facebook, let alone other social networking sites. Some people feel the need to Tweet absolutely everything that happens in their daily lives via Twitter in an almost narrative manner.  The average number of tweets sent per day last year was 50 million, says Twitter.

Others do activities only to brag about them online later. There are those who take hundreds of pictures a day to get likes on a social media sites and to fuel their egos. With that being said, it can also be severely detrimental to people who feel that this internet fame and attention equates to real attention. If someone goes out of their way to get likes and comments and never receives them, it can affect their self-esteem.

Although gaming addiction isn’t classified as a real addiction yet, it has been proven by plenty to be real. 58 percent of Americans play video games, says the Entertainment Software Association. Many people are so addicted to gaming that they skip out on work to play games like World Of Warcraft and Call Of Duty. These games can produce serious problems for the players, resulting in skipping out on meals, sleep and even using the bathroom in order to continue focusing their full attention on gameplay. Some people spend countless hours strengthening their skills in a video game and missing out on their entire day. It can affect relationships with significant others, children, family as a whole, business relationships and more. Not to mention the amount of money spent on gaming equipment. According to the Entertainment Software Association, $20.77 billion was spent on games accessories, hardware and content in 2012.

“We found that the attention system of an excessive gamer gives top priority to gaming information,” said Olivia Metcalf, a psychology researcher with a Ph.D. from the Australian National University, in 2012. “Even if they don’t want to think about gaming, they are unable to stop themselves.  This likely makes stopping or cutting back on gaming even more difficult. This phenomenon, known as attentional bias, is found across heroin, nicotine, alcohol and gambling addictions, and is thought to be a significant factor in the development of an addiction.”

YouTube is arguably more influential than cable television right now. According to YouTube’s numbers, more than 6 billion hours of video are watched each month. Over 25 percent of YouTube’s global watching time (with more than a billion views a day) is conducted through mobile services. If that much time is being spent all around the world enjoying YouTube, just how much of that free time used to view the site is actually free? From personal experience, I’ve seen people pull out their phones to show a quick video to a friend on jobs, in school and other various official settings. The need to express their love for the video seems almost more mandatory than doing their job, completing schoolwork or driving their car.

Many people who use all of these devices daily. Some people do more than one of these at a time and multitask. Although they think they are being efficient, they are fractioning their attention on each device and not giving any of them the proper time individually. If the average person text messages and talks on the phone while listening to music and with an xbox controller in the other hand, playing a video game on the television screen, this is bad. That person isn’t prioritizing these technologies one at a time and forcibly lessening the quality of enjoyment between each one. In the process people are also shortening your attention span. With all of this going on, some individuals still feel as if they are bored. They are trying to satisfy all of their additions to technology at the same time out of habit and feel that these modes of entertainment aren’t providing enough enjoyment for them.

Although these technologies can be entertaining and capable of giving us momentary happiness, but they are drastically abused and used beyond what they were ever designed to. The real addictions that are being researched and examined today that are results of overconsumption of these goods prove that these things can be harmful. Instead of picking up books and reading or focusing on enjoying life for what it is, people are too wrapped up in technology. Metaphorically, in modern society, people won’t communicate with one another unless there is a digital middle man to deliver their words for them. Rather than speaking to one another verbally, communication between individuals is currently dependent on technology. Technology is tearing down the structures of human sociability; from one advancement, device or social network to the next.