How often do I look at my phone and how long? Can I even stay away from the phone for more than an hour? What is this need to keep looking at the phone and being busy? There is a forwarded message in WhatsApp that needs to be seen, then there is twitter with a constant stream of tweets, there is Facebook, Instagram, YouTube that can keep me engaged. Each one of us may have a different hook but we all are caught in some social world that keeps us busy.
What is surprising is that there is a sense or urgency with which I need to keep ourselves updated. As if the world is going to change in a few hours. All this means that there is a lack of focus and that I cannot sit on a job for a long period of time. We were distracted earlier too. We used to get bored but during those times, we might listen to a song, watch TV or just try to focus again on the job at hand. But today, if you are distracted for a moment, these social media apps know us so well that we subconsciously reach out for the mobile and look for the updates. They know what I will be hooked to. I need to get control back. I need to understand that the world is not coming to an end and I am not going to miss anything if I don’t check my phone.
It is not that Social Media is all bad but then there is always something it will keep showing up to keep us engaged. It wants us to spend more and more time with it. How can I be productive and focused if I keep going back to it again and again.
What could be done to get over this habit of looking at the phone again and again? Every minute there is new content to be consumed. So, there is hardly any time to assimilate what has been said. In fact, sometimes one can see that issues get side tracked so easily that one forgets what one started with. Since, people are having shorter and shorter attention span, articles getting shorter and more provocative. Who has the time to read long articles and contemplate. Social media generally is a place for distraction and since everyone is busy catching eyeballs, the articles will keep getting shorter and voices shriller.
And as many have pointed out that as algorithms keep getting more and more sophisticated and understand us better and know exactly what content will lure us back, we probably don’t stand a chance. Probably, we are doomed and there is no escape or is there?