Ever thought about the amount of time you spend looking at your mobile devices, when you look at them, and in which situations? You’ve probably not given it much thought and why would you? Our brains’ pleasure sensors light up like fireworks when we get a “like”.
With mobile data plans getting more sophisticated and affordable, constantly accessing social media and other such distractions have never been easier. A recent study revealed that:
- the average adult spends between 20 to 28 hours a week on social media;
- of this, 12 hours was spent connecting digitally with family and friends;
- of those surveyed, only 11% actually saw any of their online friends in person in the last three months; and
- more than 90% of people indicated that they use digital communication more often to ask someone out, play games, or to seek advice.
These are some interesting statistics and you can easily see living proof of it everywhere - groups of friends or families scrolling through their facebook pages, replying to their whatsapp messages or whatever.
The Chinese media has aptly termed those who are perpetually looking down on their devices, the “Head-Down Tribe”. As much fun and productive for us to always be on our devices, we can think of at least four reasons for a “Heads-Up”.
1. Attention Deficit
We seem to be suffering from a perpetually short attention span. Social media is packed with witty words in compact posts or attractive images. Anything longer than a paragraph and we get fidgety (the irony is not lost on us that this article has more than one paragraph). Are we slowly but surely killing our focus and concentration?
2. Lesser presence when with family and friends
Remember the scenario we painted earlier about families and groups of friends being on their devices - true stories! When we are with our friends or families, we can be seen texting other people, or posting instagram photos of our latest gastronomic adventures. Are we really listening to what our friends and family are saying? In real life? Are they even there?
3. Being available 24/7
A lot of Asians are hard-workers. Now we have the capability to be even more productive (*cough* workaholic). Did you configure your email settings on your phone to receive work emails? Is your mobile number on your email sign-off? Now, anyone who needs to reach you, urgently or not, can do so any time, anywhere. Even when you’re on holiday, and the worse part is that you will probably respond. How is that quality time during your off-work hours?
4. A less gracious society
Has someone ever accidentally knocked into you when you’re walking on the street, or when you do something courteous such as holding the door open for someone and they don’t say a “thank you”? Especially if this someone is on their device? We reckon that being so absorbed in our mobile universe of infinite distractions, we don’t really notice that we are being less gracious. We’ve seen people, while watching entire episodes of the latest drama series on their device, navigate their way through a busy train platform and go up or down an even busier escalator, knocking or blocking people’s way and yet, barely lifting their earphone-d heads to say a quick “excuse me”.
Of course, it is not always terrible to be on our devices but it wouldn’t hurt to put the devices away sometimes to look up and smell the roses, and avoid knocking into people.
The trinity of social media, sophisticated mobile technology and constant connectivity has dramatically changed not only what we do during our personal downtime, but also the ways that we build and maintain relationships, and how we behave in society. Nonetheless, our innate need to connect with a friend or a loved one remains. Also, while we are more connected, digitally, to our friends, the quality of those relationships may have declined due to the lack of real interaction and engagement. Perhaps we should look up and see our friends in person and engage them more often. Now that’s something to think about.
By Alvin Lee / April 13, 2015 11:30AM GMT+8
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