There is a bit of buzz this morning around the interwebs about a study that was done in the UK about people’s emotional dependence on technology. I’ll share some of the details in a minute but the headline is that many of us are “digitally dependent.” As in addicted. Although most of the respondents to the study don’t call it that, the psychologists evaluating the data say that the responses are similar to how addicts describe being without their drug of choice or smokers envision life without cigarettes.
So are we a bunch of junkies or what?
Here is a bit of what the study found:
- The project also involved qualitative research, including challenging participants to get through one full day without using technology. Giving up technology was considered by some to be as hard as quitting smoking or drinking, while one survey participant described it as “like having my hand chopped off” and another called it “My biggest nightmare.”
- Many participants found it extremely hard to resist the temptation to go online, especially those for whom online communication represents a large part of their social interaction. A total of 40% of people felt ‘lonely’ when not engaging in activities such as social networking, emails, texting or watching their favourite television channels.
I’m not really surprised by this – are you? I think it’s more a reflection of how we’ve changed the way in which we do things and not what we do. Younger people who’ve only known social media as the means through which they communicate with friends would naturally feel anxious about losing those means but only because they’ve not used others as have we oldsters.
I don’t know how you feel but I’d be manifesting some of the above symptoms if I was cut off from my friends and business associates as well as from news and information. I’m not a hermit and the means via which I stay in touch with these people and things are technology based, especially if one includes TV in the mix. If that makes me an addict, then so be it. But my addiction to my friends and the world around me isn’t one I think needs any cure, thank you. We get into more trouble by ignoring those things both as people and in our business lives.
Humans are social beings – we use the term “anti-social” as a pejorative, after all. Anything that makes us more social is a good thing in my book and describing it in a negative context such as addiction isn’t helpful even though it gets nice headlines and a blog post from me!