Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Help, I’m addicted!

I’m an addict. To my phone. I check it upon waking up. (It’s charging on my bedside table.) It’s the last thing I look at before going to bed, well, the last device before my kindle.  And if I wake up in the middle of the night and can’t fall back to sleep immediately, I also reach out for it. I like to say I keep it within reach in case of an emergency, stemming back to the days when I needed to be available to an aged mother and teenaged son, but nowadays I’m just kidding myself that that’s true. I can also say that I use it as an alarm clock, but then again, I could always just buy an alarm clock.

Well, scientists have already proven that exposure to social media releases dopamines and it’s highly addictive, just like smoking, drinking and gambling. There’s nothing with alcohol or gambling, in moderation, but when they take over our lives and ruin relationships, that’s when destructive addiction takes over. And it’s the same with our devices and social media.

I’ve said it often enough, I can’t do without my phone. It was true ten years ago when I would drive all the way home if I reached the office and realized that I left it at home. It’s even more true now. I’m switching to another phone service provider and the thought that I might not be able to use my phone for an hour or two sent me into a tizzy.

I’m glad I’m not a millennial whose life just revolves around devices and social media. I grew up in a time when instant gratification meant getting my hands on some ice cream sitting in the freezer, and rushing to the bookstore to pick up the latest comic. I had to wait for a special occasion to wear something new, and communication was still conducted via letters through the post.

It took me a long time to make my way up the career ladder, to get to a point where I enjoyed what I was doing and also made good money at it. Relationships were forged and strengthened over years, and didn’t depend on the number of likes on my Facebook or Instagram page.

I think many young people are missing out on what’s important, that what makes something worthwhile, whether it’s a job or a relationship, takes time and effort. Maybe it’s easy to “friend” someone but there’s no quick way to form a relationship that’s meaningful and fulfilling.

I’m a natural busybody. I’m always fascinated by people around me and have been guilty of eavesdropping on conversations taking place near me. But Ive found that when I’m too caught up looking down at my phone, I miss out on the world around me. Engrossed in the little screen, I don’t catch interesting characters, significant looks, silent expressions. That’s one of the reasons I like traveling, because I’m not reaching for my phone every five minutes. There’s time to sit and watch the world go by, observe people and their own interactions with everyone else.

My interaction with my son, B, who lives in another city, is limited to a few lines on whatsapp once in a while. We don’t chat often on the phone and we’re not Facebook friends (his decision!). So I do look forward to the times when he comes home. Because he’s a naturally gregarious person and will take the time to sit and talk. It’s a time when I catch up on what’s been going on his life and learn about his plans and dreams. Nothing beats face to face communication.

It doesn't take an Einstein to figure out that any kind of addiction is destructive. So I’m not sure what I’m going to do about my phone addiction. I know it’s a part of my life and I depend on it for a lot of things. I suppose realizing that I’m addicted is a start. And realizing it, to consciously wean myself off it. To begin, I guess I could charge it in another room rather than on my bedside table, so that I can’t reach for it before and after bedtime. And buy an alarm clock!

I caught this video (on social media!) where this guy (I don’t know who he is) made some really pertinent points about millennials and social media. It really opened my eyes.

1 comment: