Smartphone addiction part 2: Do we need to disconnect?

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*** Disclaimer ***

This editorial discusses some of the technological aspects of internet/smartphone addiction. With the following article, it’s especially important to reiterate that no one on the Pocketnow staff is a trained medical professional. In discussing this topic with our audience in an entertaining way, if you feel you might have a problem with addictive behavior, please seek help from a qualified doctor or counselor.

Yesterday, we talked about ways that you can go about reducing your obsession with all things digital. We had a few good ideas, mostly centering around notifications, but more generally around things that keep dragging you back into the digital world. Today, in an “end-week debate” (see what I did there?) we’re going to talk about whether or not we should be worried about this in the first place.

Ohhhhh…pretty…

Let’s face it, this is a brave new world. Look around you. Literally right now, look around you. If you are not in your home (or even if you are) I bet you can find at least one other person around you staring at a glowing rectangle of some shape or size. I say other person, because if you’re reading this, you qualify. Maybe that other person has a glazed over look in their eyes. Maybe this is a bad sign, or maybe this is just the new normal.

When you think about it, it’s actually weird that we’re even talking about this. I mean, disconnecting from the Internet? Who am I, Tom Hanks with a volleyball? Like it or not, in this day and age, it’s more normal to spend time away from “reality” than it is so spend it in the here and now. We are living in an uber-connected world, where just about any piece of information is at your fingertips all the time. Whether it’s actually true or not.

Embrace it

So shouldn’t we embrace this new digital age, Max Headroom style? Yes, I’m dating myself again. My point is, as I’ve said often in the past – you can adapt or die. Embrace this new reality that we’re living in, or find yourself left behind. I’m not saying that the digital world is the be all end all, but it’s definitely the new normal. I can’t honestly say if we’re better off in this new normal or not, but I can say that if you’re rejecting this new normal, you may not be very happy with yourself.

Some may argue that you’re missing out on real connections in the real world. There is something to be said for that. I’m a father, and I know I have to put my phone down more and pay attention to my family. My kids are a bit on the young side to be melting into the online world as much as adults and teenagers do. So, it’s critical that I’m able to disconnect with those distant friends and stay tuned in to the here and now.

Digital people are still people

But at the same time, I’ve built deep and meaningful friendships in the digital world too. If anything I’m probably more satisfied with my virtual friendships than many of my in-person friendships. Especially among my friends here at Pocketnow – past and present and at other outlets too. We’ve bonded over our digital personalities and perhaps once or in some weird cases two personal encounters face to face. The reality is, there are some great people out there and the only way you’ll ever likely meet them, is virtually.

Maybe that’s why the concept of Virtual Reality and Facebook’s vision of VR hangouts is such a tantalizing one. I want to sit down with my boss here at Pocketnow, Anton. I’ve been working here for four years and I’ve never seen him face to face. If VR and the digital world bring me closer to awesome dudes like Tony, or Joe, or Juan (who I’ve also never met “IRL”) then you can take your addiction and shove it in a place where the digital sun don’t shine.

Take what’s important

But maybe I’m wrong, and maybe physical relationships are more important than the digital world. Maybe we’d be better off if we didn’t get constant running commentary about what’s going on at movie sets, or at the White House, or at General Manager meetings. Maybe we’d be able to better focus on the most important parts of the information, rather than trying to digest every tiny little shred of information that comes from a tweet.

Put more simply, and referring back to sports, maybe hearing every tiny trade rumor of so-and-so could be going here or here or here isn’t as important as so-and-so ultimately just going here. I don’t know. I’m not the psychologist in the family. What I do know is that without the digital world, and without being connected, I’m not writing this article, and you’re not reading it. To me that’s a worse way to be. Do we need to find a happy medium? Maybe.

But what about you. Now that you’ve read about ways to disconnect and reasons why it’s great to stay connected, where do you stand? Are you looking to offload some digital time and trade it in for some “quality time”. Or are you on the other side – more connected the better? Sound off in the comments down below and let’s see if we can figure this out.

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About The Author
Adam Doud
Adam joined the tech world after watching Jon Rubenstein demo the most epic phone ever at CES 2009. He is webOS enthusiast, Windows Phone fan, and Android skeptic. He loves the outdoors, is an avid Geocacher, Cubs/Blackhawks fan, and family man living in Sweet Home Chicago, where he STILL hosts monthly webOS meetups (Don’t call it a comeback!). He can be found tweeting all things tech as @DeadTechnology, or chi-town sports at @oneminutecubs. Read more about Adam Doud!