Do We Need To Disconnect?
In the age of smartphones, tablets and smartwatches, we are always connected with the virtual world. Whether it is for entertainment, business or creative purposes, today’s people are always busy with their devices. With the little known proof about the health consequences of the always online lifestyle, I’d like to take a step back and examine the clearly visible and obvious results and give my advice afterwards.
Short attention span
With the current speed of the internet, and the wide availabilty of it on mobile devices, we have gotten used to the speediness of modern technology. Web-pages need to load in a few seconds, or we become uninterested. A study found that a one second delay in page load time can result in 11% fewer page views, 16% decreased customer satisfaction and 7% lost conversions.
Another reason for this phenomenon is that we get pressured to present our messages and information in a bullet pointed fashion. Take a look at the 140 character limit of Twitter for example.
The inability to focus
You turn on your computer with a specific task in mind; Maybe you want to check the weather, or do some school work. You get to the desktop, you check your email and maybe other notifications. Suddenly, you see something that interests you, and before you know it 20 minutes have passed, and you’ve got 6 tabs open. You finally get to work but you keep several programs and tabs open, just in case someone needs you or something gets updated. A few minutes in, you suddenly remember something else you need to do, so you open up another tab and off you go. Once you are finally done with whatever you wanted to do, you turn the computer off, you pick up your phone and proceed to check your social media, etcetera etcetera.
Our brains get used to this constant multitasking, this constant stream of information it needs to process. When you take some away time from the screen and internet, you might realize that you don’t know what you’ve been doing. You might feel like you haven’t really been here on earth, even though you might have been away from the screen for a few minutes.
While we don’t have clear proof that this is affecting the functioning of our brains, one could assume that this might be potentially dangerous in the long run.
Understandably, questions have raised about a link between the sudden spike of diagnosed ADHD in kids and the internet or social media use. It really does make sense, since they are being exposed to the same ‘internet way’ of thinking while their brains are still heavily in development. This could be a foreshadowing of what implications might happen to us if we don’t become aware of the situation.
Dependant on the internet
For a lot of people, a lot of things on the internet have become a big part of our lives. We make social contact through it, we get entertained through it and we maybe even make a living trough it. But what if it all disappeared?
It might happen; You are working on something near your personal gate to the internet, the router. Oops, you knock the device off it’s stand and it crashes into the ground. The lights won’t turn on anymore. You call tech support, still in high hope that everything will be resolved quickly, but then you get to hear the earliest someone will come to fix it is next week. Panic, lots and lots of panic.
It happened to me this week, and is actually the inspiration for researching everything I mentioned in this post. Since I’m somewhat of a social outcast, and most of my actual friends live quite far away, it would mean no interaction with any of them! I wouldn’t be able to do my homework and I would be able to practice any of my hobbies. Luckily, I called again the next day and we were able to get someone to come by and replace it that same day, but it got me thinking.
What if for some reason, the entire access to the internet got cut off for a long period of time? After a few days I wouldn’t know what to do with myself, and I know many others who would feel the same way. Having the world on your fingertips has become part of our daily lives, and when we suddenly get pulled away from that we feel empty.
Maybe just realizing that our luxurious, always-connected lifestyle can be suddenly over if a cable snaps helps us change our mindset, and helps us ‘survive’ without internet if the situation arises.
References and inspirations
Is the internet destroying your attention span?
What the internet is doing to our brains.