Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Wellness Wednesday

Priority Mental Health
The work of photographer Eric Pickersgill has reinforced my belief in the threat our "smart" phone (and internet) society is to mental health. Pickersgill took a series of haunting photos of people in a variety of social settings using their phones. But then he photoshopped the phones out of the photos. The effect is chilling. He was inspired by watching a family, most of whom had their phones out, interact while at a cafe:
Family sitting next to me at Illium cafĂ© in Troy, NY is so disconnected from one another. Not much talking. Father and two daughters have their own phones out. Mom doesn’t have one or chooses to leave it put away. She stares out the window, sad and alone in the company of her closest family. Dad looks up every so often to announce some obscure piece of info he found online. Twice he goes on about a large fish that was caught. No one replies. I am saddened by the use of technology for interaction in exchange for not interacting. This has never happened before and I doubt we have scratched the surface of the social impact of this new experience. Mom has her phone out now.
While I value the convenience and wealth of information that this technology affords us, we have become a society that is both connected and disconnected. We need to take regular breaks from the technology that is isolating us. Apps and social media do not equate to friends and relationships. If you're constantly connected, everything you read or discover seems to be urgent and require your immediate attention. That is a lie. 

Many productivity experts encourage busy executives and entrepreneurs to become less connected, to schedule specific times to check email and to make social media a quick treat instead of a 24/7 activity. Why not take a media fast once a week? Or even leave your phone at home. If you can't leave your phone behind, why not install an app that limits the amount of time you can spend on social media?  (You can do the same on your computer.) The truth is, you're not really missing out if you don't read that next comment or article.

While I was initially excited about the possibilities of the internet, apps, and social media, I've come to see how it disconnects you from life, how you can put priority on "connecting" with people you don't really know over those who are actually in your life. It's impossible to keep up with everyone's Facebook posts, Twitter tweets, Instagram pics, Tumblr accounts, and various other social media, blogs, and vlogs. Our brains aren't wired to keep up with that much virtual friendship. For the sake of mental health - yours and others - put the phone down and actually talk to the person next to you.


Shona~ LALA dex press said...

I just re-read "The Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television" by Jerry Mander and in relationship to TV, this same issue is discussed... in 1978! The book very much could have been mistaken for being written in these times just update the terminology and replace TV with computer/ tablet/ phone.

In the interest of full disclosure, I had forgotten I had read the book several years ago and mid-reading it all sounded very familiar, but it was still a good book to re-read.

Cherie said...

Shona, I've heard of the book but never read it (and I've also accidentally read the same book twice). I can see the parallels between TV and smartphones. At least with TV, you have something in common with other viewers. I thought the photos were haunting.

And as a child, I was told that reading a book while eating or visiting others was rude - and most people would still consider that true. I can't pull out a book to read while I'm with other people yet they can pull their phones out to text, check emails, surf, etc.

Shona~ LALA dex press said...

Actually, part of argument #1 is that TV viewing is not a collective experience in which you would have something in common. Part of the argument is that it actually separates us from each other, much like the argument regarding a smartphone.

Arguments 1-3 are strong, he lost me a little in #4.

p.s. my 83-year-old co-worker said that forgetting that you have read a book and re-reading the same book becomes more common as we age. Just so you know what's to come. Perhaps I might read this book for a 3rd time in the future.