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I spend a lot of time online every day, whether it’s doing research for an article, moderating comments on this site, interacting with friends and fans on our various social media sites, or responding to the never-ending flow of email. I also have an iPhone and iPad to keep me connected to this site, social media and email when I’m not at my computer. And I know I’m not alone. Technology has become a part of our everyday lives, for better or for worse.
But all this technology comes with a dark side: if you’re not careful, it will control your life. And not in a good way. We live in an age of behavioral addiction. We spend endless hours on Facebook, we binge on TV shows, and we are addicted to our smartphones. Americans spend an average of three hours a day on their smartphones! And before you think “that’s crazy,” take an honest look at your smartphone use.
A new book by Adam Alter, a professor of psychology and marketing at NYU, Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked, takes a fascinating look at this phenomenon. Adler explores how we get hooked on our devices, and what we can do to use these products for good and mitigate the damage they inflict on our lives.
Are you addicted to your devices?
I won’t deny that I’m somewhat addicted to technology. I can’t imagine a life without it, nor would I want to. But I, like so many others, need to find better ways to manage the role technology plays in my life.
I was struck at two recent events I attended, Cat Campy NYC and Global Pet Expo, how almost everyone walks around with their smartphone in hand, ready to Facebook Live, Instagram, and tweet everything they were experiencing. I often feel guilty that I don’t do these things when I attend events – I know that many of my followers look forward to hearing about my experience at these events. But I find that when I focus on my phone, and on sharing every in the moment experience as it happens, I miss out on actually being in the moment.
Why you rarely see “live” posts from me
This is why you rarely see “live” posts from me when I’m at an event. I prefer to spend my time actually being at the event and experiencing everything fully so I can share it with you after the fact. I envy people who can be at events and share everything they see almost instantly, but I don’t seem to be capable of that kind of multi-tasking. I came to realize that while I’d like to be able to do it, it simply runs contrary to how I try to live my life, which is by being mindful, at least most of the time, and living in the moment.
Nothing falls apart if you take an online break
My two recent events also made me realize that nothing falls apart if you’re not online all day long. I checked in with email, comments on this site, and my various social media channels once or twice a day. I only answered the most pressing requests, and let the rest of it go until after I got back from my trips. And lo and behold, I didn’t lose any followers, at least none that I know of. Nobody got mad at me for being a little slower than usual to respond. And most importantly: I felt like I had taken charge, at least for a few days, of how I use technology, rather than letting it control me.
How do you cope with the constant onslaught of technology in your life?
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