Do you ever sit in a restaurant or pub and look around? I do, and I always see the same thing. People sat staring into their phones, ignoring their company and aimlessly scrolling. Or how about when you're on a bus? Headphones galore.
Technology has progressed so far in the last few decades and it's truly astonishing. There are so many things we can now do that even our parents could not. When my parents were my age they didn't have mobile phones, there was no internet, job ads were in the newspaper and you met people out and about.
For us, it's all far easier. And even in the last ten or so years things have progressed miles. I remember having a mobile phone that I could simply call and text people (and play snake of course) and from there; camera phones were made, computer access to the internet (the dial up tone and my Mum asking me to get off the web so she could use the phone!), phones that connected to the internet, eMail, online messaging (MSN was the sh*t), webcam, phones with touch screens, mobile data, sat-nav, fingerprint recognition, voice recognition, eye retina recognition.. it's phenomenal the things we can now do. But it's also phenomenally bad.
We aren't born with social anxiety, it is something that is nurtured into us. I thoroughly believe the boom in technology and it's advancement has fuelled this massively - leading us to rely on much easier, but more anti-social ways of interacting with people instead of face to face conversations or even phone calls.
I am hugely guilty of this. Where 10 years ago I would phone my best friend's house phone to chat for hours, we now send each other a WhatsApp message, I can text my boss if I'm late and often email people about important things instead of just picking up the phone.
According to an infographic created by Nootrina;
Anxiety Disorders are 20x more common than 30 years ago;
45% of people feel "worried or uncomfortable" without Facebook or Email;
50% of mobile users get anxious without their phones;
73% would panic if they lost their phone;
9 in 10 panic when their phone battery drops below 20%;
2 in 3 adults suffer from NOMOPHOBIA (the proposed name for the phobia of being out of cellular phone contact).
There has to be a point where this turns around, as a robotic society helps nobody. Now it's a long way away from that, but human interaction is being required less and less. I've come up with a few suggestions to combat this digital dilemma and be more confident and socially aware.
Limiting your time on your phone and committing to being aware of your surroundings & the people around you is very important. Challenge yourself to take a technology break when you're out and about. Take your headphones out and be open to communicating with people - a smile can go a long way! Mindfulness will encourage you to be aware of; what's going on around you and subsequently the people too.
Let family-time be family-time! Why not put all of your phones in a box until you leave/your family leave. This will help you resist the temptation of casually scrolling whilst you're relaxing with those that mean the most to you.
Invest in some disposable cameras. Collecting memories by taking photos is really important to me, but with the convenience of taking photos on our phones it creates that same temptation of just checking this or that. Put your phone away, get out the camera for your photos and enjoy the time you have. Subsequently this may result in you noticing and experiencing more! Plus - disposable camera photos always look good.
Commit to making the phone call. I know that texting, messaging or emailing is so much more convenient. But make the effort to call every now and then. Whether you're chasing up on an order, inviting a friend out on the weekend or asking your Boss a question. Just do it!
Choose a day of the week and designate it as a 'phone free' evening in your home. Again, get the box out and put them away for the night. This will allow you quality time with your S/O, family or friends.
These are just some ideas to combat our dependence on technology and it's convenience. If you have any suggestions please comment them below or tweet me @gemcals. I'd love to hear them as I'm just as guilty as the next person and can be incredibly socially anxious.
I hate to see a world with ever-growing social anxiety and anxiety disorders and hope this can be slowed down.