It’s called the fear of missing out–you’ve heard of it and most likely experienced it. It’s the reason why people can’t put down their phones for one second without panicking. I wouldn’t call it the downfall of technology but more of the limitation it places on living in the present moment. This could sound a little like a rant, so if you aren’t into that sort of blog post, then you should wait until Friday.
The problem technology presents us with is the urgency to be everywhere except where we are standing at the moment. Experiencing the moment is not nearly as important as how many likes you’ll get later or how many people know what you were doing. There are studies that show you remember less and experience less enjoyment when you are too focused on taking pictures and physically capturing the moment rather than just taking it in–making permanent copies but not organic memories. Memories can seem less valuable when they are not being approved by social media–by people that you would never talk to anyways.
Don’t get me wrong, I love social media. I have an #instadaily picture, and numerous tweets that go out daily. Our society revolves around the ability of mobile technology to connect and make new connections–and I love it. What I don’t love is how it can interrupt our daily lives and relationships with the people around us. Being so involved with what is happening on the other end of your phone only implies to the people you are actually with that they aren’t nearly as important.
The biggest eye-opener I had was when I was on vacation in Hawaii over Christmas. I was lucky enough to never have to have a camera on me. There were too many other phones, go-pros, cameras, etc to capture the moment and mine was not necessary. I was able to enjoy all the moments and activities without being stressed about getting the perfect shot; to take in the experience with more than just my mind. It made the experiences more intimate as I wasn’t concerned about getting enough pictures, having to have the perfect one for Instagram, showing all the people at home what they were missing. Vacation is a good time to get away from life back home and I feel that technology is no different. We need a vacation from the immediate accountability our phones require from us. It’s easier said than done with the looming wifi bubble available everywhere you go. Even on the beach, our phones were working.
It all comes back to the fear of missing out. We all know the feeling: when you forget your phone at home and you have to spend the day or even just a couple hours without it. You keep thinking, what if someone is trying to call? What if there are people sending me messages? What if there is an emergency? Most likely, nothing is happening with your phone but you can’t help feeling a little panic. It’s a burden to always be accountable in terms of connectivity. People expect you to be available all of the time, and we have gotten used to it and expect the same back.
But maybe you should take a step back and see how your phone usage is affecting your life; Are you spending more time with the internet then you are with real people? Do you put more effort into building your social media profiles than your relationships? I feel old and out of the loop when I say it, but I hate looking at groups of people who are all looking down at their phones…really what’s the point? Might as well stay home. We are forced to be attached to our phones because of work and other responsibilities so when you have the chance to turn it off you might actually feel better and the people around you will appreciate it. I value organic, face-to-face relationships and I think our generation is losing out on important social connections from the FOMO.