How often do you pick up your mobile phone throughout the day? Two or three times maybe? 10? Or even more? It’s old news that Smartphones have enabled us to connect to others in new ways through the internet. And by the nature of our Smartphones, we have access to that stimulation and connection wherever and whenever we want.
Connecting to technology
We have started using our Smartphones on the way to and from the office, our computer and at home. The indoctrination of mobile technology has resulted in the way we connect and live within our society. We are intrinsically bound within the use of the internet. So much so that it does not seem viable to live without a constant connection to it.
My therapeutic clients often come to me stating that they feel at the mercy of technology. Some even state that their world outside of the virtual one is suffering as a result of staying up late watching YouTube or talking on social media. Leading them to feel stressed, anxious or feeling lost in how to connect with the physical world.
What becomes apparent after looking at my own smartphone usage was just how much of my mental space was being used by my phone itself. Moreover, just how much I felt the need to focus on my smartphone to fill the gaps when I felt at a loss of things to do. My phone allowed me to connect with the virtual world and fill my time in all manner of ways; whether that be connecting on social media, playing a game or looking up car statistics on the internet. The danger I found was that I, more often than not, was using and checking my phone mindlessly, with no conscious realisation of what I was doing.
As a result of our constant need of stimulation, we have lost the time in which we connect with ourselves. Our need for connection and stimulation is teaching us to run from empty space in our lives. In the past this empty space was used for actual thoughts or experiences.
This has resulted in our mental well-being being intrinsically linked with our use and stimulation via technology. So much so that many of us use our Smartphones even when conversing physically or use technology as a filter in which to view their experiences (for example watching a concert through their Smartphones whilst they ‘capture the moment?’ I ask in my blog topic on social identity ‘do people seek more pleasure from eating a steak nowadays or sharing the steak on social media?’
We have access to the delights of the virtual world however we want; entertainment, knowledge, and connection at the click of a button. Stimulation in all its virtual facets and, as a result, it seems then that the physical world is no longer enough. We need to supplement stimulation through virtual means in order to keep us buoyant throughout the day and make the physical world measure up to the virtual?
No wonder many feel so lost without our smartphones or anxious once their battery has died.
The way we are interacting in the world is changing. Mobile technology has allowed us to experience stimulation in more ways, more of the time and wherever we are. As a society, it seems that we are losing the ability to be with others and indeed ourselves? It’s easier to run away from our thoughts feelings and emotions in favour of finishing another level on Candy Crush.
It’s so prominent in our culture that even when we are doing an activity in the physical world we still need the stimulation technology provides. This endorses and ingrains our need for validation through the virtual world rather than the lived physical experience of life.