Consider the following story as it relates to this week’s topic.
Chloe considers herself a technologically-savvy person. She’s old enough to remember always having a computer around, though she sometimes finds herself amazed by how quickly technology has advanced. Her use of social media grew as it became not just a place to share thoughts, but also a tool to coordinate events, share pictures, and create a full-fledged digital persona. For the most part, it made her feel like she was connected and informed in a fun and engaging way. Though recently, she’s been thinking about the amount of time she spends using screens; how she will reach for her phone while she waits in line at the post office, how sometimes it’s the last thing she does before falling asleep, and the first thing she does upon waking. She’s starting to wonder how much benefit it actually brings to her life.
Tracking how technology has become prominent in modern life and the effects it has on our population’s mental health is a growing topic for thought and research. Dr. Svend Brinkmann, a professor of psychology in the Department of Communication and Psychology at Aalborg University in Denmark, seems to be at the forefront of these discussions. He theorizes that, “Opting out and saying “no” are skills we lack, both as individuals and as a society.”
Through his exploration, Professor Brinkmann discovered that the Latin phrase carpe diem (seize the day) has become a popular tattoo that individuals pick for themselves. As he thought about the power of this phrase, he wondered about the connection between people inspired by this saying, who are “rushing around seizing the day”, and our culture of consumerism, partially driven by large tech companies. These advertisers and content providers even have a sharp way to describe their competition for our attention: “Share of thumb.”'If we want to be friends with everyone, we cannot truly have a friend.' - Dr. Svend Brinkmann Click To Tweet
Taking Back Control
First and foremost, become aware of what it is about yourself that needs to change. How much of your day do you spend on a device or social media? Apple recently developed a tool called Screen Time that measures your time online for precisely this.
Next, practice saying “no” to things and lower your tendency to overcommit. In addition to the fear of missing out (FOMO), pay attention to the fear of better options (FOBO), which can cause a familiar indecisiveness: should I go to that work event or that social gathering? Should I try to go to both?
One way to ease the difficulty of these decisions is to “refuse to see this as an important decision”, says Patrick McGinnis, creator of the term FOMO. “Just flip a coin, because you know what? It doesn’t really matter”. Finally, removing technological distractions helps cut down on option overload, though be aware that cutting back in one area should not be in order to further commit to another.
Dr. Brinkmann makes a great point by saying, “If we want to be friends with everyone, we cannot truly have a friend. If we want to do something well, we cannot do it all.”
Mr. Green suggests that “fighting off FOMO and FOBO, learning to embrace limitation, and self-imposed boundaries takes courage because our environment offers constant temptation. Who doesn’t want to think of themselves as brave?”'Life is a little slower than our phones lead us to believe.' - Marc Maron Click To Tweet
Get Started with Rice Psychology Group
As you dig into 2019 and start to feel the heaping expectations of everyday life, first be comforted that this issue is as common as a “back-to-work” virus. Then, resist the forces fighting for your attention and spend it on something that matters. Like Marc Maron, comedian and host of the WTF Podcast, says, “Life is a little slower than our phones lead us to believe.”
If you’d like help with this issue, then our team in Tampa wants to help. Reach out to us today to learn what we can do for you!