I recently read an article on how great it is that we are now more connected than ever before. This degree of connectedness was due the Government having invested mountains of our cash on 4G. The article went to great lengths to extol the joys of being hyper- connected through our smartphones, through wearable devices, through super-fast broadband, through UHD curved TVs connected to the internet, through clothing connected to the internet, through glasses connected to the internet - you get my drift….
The question I posed to myself orbited around whether constant-connectedness was really such manna from Heaven. For me, the problem with constant-connectedness is that it does not give you any rest. Imagine someone wittering on at you all of your working day and the sort of stress that would cause you; then continuing through the evening. I suspect that is exactly what constant connectedness is like for your brain. The more I contemplated this, the more it made sense. A stream of relentless trivia literally filling every cavity in your mind to the point of fatigue.
Looking back to my childhood, I remembered days where we got up at sunrise, had our Weetabix, grabbed our bikes, headed out with a bit of change and did not come back in until we were exhausted or dragged back in by our parents. Friends were actual, real friends. We didn’t need to feel the need to share posts because we were living real experiences with our friends. Most of all, we were alive with a capital A and we did one thing at a time.
Today, people spend their lives multi-tasking; or better put, context-switching. How many times have you sat at home, having dinner on your lap, watching the TV, as well as flicking through Facebook on your iPad, responding to texts and wondering why you feel knackered? Your brain isn't just being asked to absorb and do more, it’s being asked to absorb and do much much more and at the same time! So merrily we go from work, where most of us stare at computers screens connected to computers which connect to the internet, to home where we stare at computer screens disguised as mobile devices which connect to the internet. To compound the issue, constant connectedness is highly addictive.
According to a recent study released by non-profit Anxiety UK, over half of the social media users polled said Facebook, Twitter and other networking sites had changed their lives -- and 51 percent of those said it's not been for the better.
Forty-five percent of responders said they feel "worried or uncomfortable" when email and Facebook are inaccessible, while 60 percent of respondents stated "they felt the need to switch off" their phones and computers to secure a full-fledged break from technology. In other words, it's not being on social networks that makes people anxious. It's being away from them. The survey was conducted by the Salford Business School at the University of Salford, where 228 participants were polled for Anxiety UK's research.
While the study consisted of a small sample size, Salford's data backs up other information on social media addiction. In a recent study Mobile Mindset study by Lookout, it was found that 73 percent of people would panic if they lost their smartphone, while another 54 percent admit to checking their phone "while lying in bed.”
Last night driving home, I took my Apple Watch off, turned my iPhone off, turned up the CD player and drove home the long way round with the roof down and the roasting summer sun in my face (roasting might be a slight exaggeration). The point I am trying to make is that I felt free. That was the key, you see: as a kid I felt free!
My conclusion, “constant connectedness” is an invisible prison that you choose to be confined within. It has no locks or keys but it’s just as isolating and just as damaging to every facet of your being. It’s addictive and it’s alluring, but it’s not something that I am going to be buying. The dogma of its necessity is a lie and as for my Apple Watch, the poor thing is already up for sale on Gumtree.
In the inimitable words of Grandad Reg, when asked why he doesn’t carry the mobile phone we purchased for him to make sure he’s contactable: “Why would I want anyone to reach me when I’m out. When I’m out, I’m out!
There’s some wisdom there.