Cell phones and technology play an increasingly important role in our lives. They keep us connected and working on the go, keep us in touch with distant relatives, friends and loved ones and even provide us with entertainment when we need it most. Unfortunately, a lot of this occurs at the most inappropriate times possible.
And that's just it. We have become so dependent and attached to these pocket-sized devices that we must use them every chance we get, to the point that it's excessive, obsessive and sometimes rude. Lance Ulanoff, Editor in Chief over at Mashable, asked a wonderful question in his article about how distracting technology is: what is happening to us? He semi-jokingly states:
"When I’m walking with my head bowed, staring intently at a little 4-inch screen, there’s another noodle head heading right towards me, doing the exact same thing. It’s a wonder there aren’t more collisions on the sidewalks of Manhattan."
Ulanoff isn't asking a question that hasn't been asked before – but it is a great read and I highly recommend it if you get the chance. We all have wondered, at some point or another, why we can't escape the grips of mobile technology. It's because these extremely portable devices have made us more connected than ever before; we never have to feel as if we're out of reach, alone or more than an arm's length or few taps away from Google search results.
Unlike Ulanoff, I can't say I ever walk the sidewalks of any busy streets with my face buried in a phone. I try to take any time that I'm outside for what it is: a breath of fresh air, time away from a computer and a mental flush of all the clutter that tends to build up in my head while sitting at a desk for hours on end. When I'm not working, I'm trying my best to disconnect and distance myself from technology. This only works part of the time as technology is my passion and I can never stay too far away for too long. But I do enjoy a few minutes here and there without a buzz or chime pulling me away from the real world.
Even still, I've got it pretty bad. Although I can't necessarily relate to Ulanoff with the distracted walking he speaks of, I have experienced "Inattention Blindness" (for short, the apparent lack of memory of something you know you have done) a time or two after a few days of sleep deprivation. But where my main distraction or obsession occurs is with incoming notifications. As soon as my phone begins to buzz in my pocket or on my desk, it begins tearing away at my conscious. I usually have it in my hand, tapping out a reply, before the buzzing stops. Not only that, but I suffer from the age-old "phantom vibrations" pretty badly, too. I compulsively check my phone after thinking I heard or felt if vibrate when it never really did.
I have, however, managed to get a grip on my problems and narrow them down to two key times. I only compulsively check my phone when I'm sitting at my desk and working (mainly in anticipation of an email from the boss man). The other is when someone is talking and not getting to the point quickly enough. I have what you could call a hamster attention span disorder – if something isn't delectably interesting, innately, I will check my phone constantly. It isn't because I expect a notification to just pop up on demand, but my phone has become my scapegoat ... my safe haven from boredom and awkward situations. (Oh, don't even deny it! You've done it, too!)
Admittedly, this is still pretty bad. And I am working on it. But at least you won't find me sitting in an emergency room after walking into a light post on the street corner ... or worse, a parked truck.
Do any of you suffer from some of the same things? Phantom vibrations, the compulsive need to check your phone, distracted walking or Inattention Blindness? Do you use your phone to squeeze your way out of an awkward situation? How do you disconnect? Share your stories and advice below!
Image via New York Times