Are you always looking down on your phone? Here’s a heads up to look
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
With mobile data plans getting more sophisticated and
affordable, constantly accessing social media and other such distractions have
never been easier. A recent study
– 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?
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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