In our daze of distraction addiction, we shift our attention between the real and the virtual world constantly. Whenever we look at your friends’ or celebrity status updates, accomplishments and vacation pictures, we’re plucked out of our present moment and planted somewhere we don’t want to be.
For example, when we look at Jennifer Lopez’s flawless fitted gowns, we crave a body we can’t have, we admonish ourselves for our harsh reality and become all the more miserable in this comparative narrative.
Our self-esteem takes a hit, our need for a better ending to our current situation arises, and the rate at which we procrastinate with the task at hand exponential rises. The opposite is true, when we post a picture of ourselves, we hit a high note of dopamine every time someone likes it or comments on it. This combination of novelty with the variable reward system of hitting refresh to constantly check on our feeds is the sad backdrop to our ever-present loneliness and reality.
Our inability to stay in the present moment is triggered by boredom, and a craving for excitement that this unpredictable world of online engagement offers. It’s a perfect recipe and source for anxiety and depression when expectations are not met consistently.
Technology as a coping mechanism is making us all wired and tired. Are we being intentional about our use of a medium that was just thrusted into our hands without a guide on how to navigate it? Are we dodging our loneliness with mindless surfing? Are we stunting our inner wisdom by keeping ourselves inert with too much of external stimuli?
Life is nothing but long stretches of boring loneliness with bursts of temporary excitement in groups of 2 people or more. The sooner we teach our children that the better.
Whether they grab a book and fall into the couch, or grab their headphones and go for a run – what they do with their time is upto them. But its our duty to tell them that a little downtime once in a while will reset the brain to think, create and connect more efficiently.
Technology has given the common man a platform for arm chair advocacy and activism. But, how many of us can actually report receiving a hug via the internet? Outside of places like Change.org and GoFundMe.com, did any of us pause enough to wipe the drool of the old people in our lives to whom we owe so much of the luxury of our present moments?
When did you last pick up the phone to tell someone that you need to be saved from your own loneliness?
The behavioral addiction of smartphone use begins forming neurological connections in the brain in ways similar to how opioid addiction is experienced by people taking Oxycontin for pain relief — gradually. Addiction to social media has a negative effect on social connection. Heavy cell phone users reported higher levels of feeling isolated, lonely, depressed and anxious.
Source: Erik Peper, Richard Harvey. Digital Addiction: Increased Loneliness, Anxiety, and Depression. NeuroRegulation, 2018; 5 (1): 3 DOI: 10.15540/nr.5.1.