It’s quite a hassle to keep your digital life balanced. Often, you find yourself using your devices longer and more frequently than you intended. Maybe you feel conflicted about it, maybe you have accepted it, but it undoubtedly has an impact on your life. So, what are the consequences of living in our modern digital world? It probably varies greatly between people. But, let’s take a look at some existing theories nevertheless.
We seem to change the way we retrieve, store and value information. Mainly due to the ever-increasing amount, accessibility and attractiveness. Many people are incredibly flexible and fast in dealing with this new digital reality. This skill can come with a cost however. Many adolescents are nowadays less capable of critical, deep thinking and concentrating for a long time*. The brain needs time to transform information from short-term to long-term memory, but due to the constant stream of impulses, it isn’t given a lot of time to do this.
I wonder if this explains why so many people think they have concentration problems these days. Could it be that part of this group is just a victim of the previously described development? And as a result, misinterpreting the whole situation in thinking that something is “wrong” with their brain? Some might even start to take medication, whereas they might just have an average amount of concentration capacity?
You probably heard it before; you communicate 55% with your body, 38% through tone of voice and only 7% via spoken word. Talking via Zoom, therefore, means that you’re partially missing body language and possibly some tone in voice as well. The above-mentioned percentages change, which explains your fatigue after every Zoom-meeting —a phenomenon which most of you probably experience. You depend more on words to understand each other.
However, this theory leaves me in doubt, since Zoom is essentially the same as calling someone, which doesn’t tire me too much, personally. Could it be that that Zoom makes you think that it is similar to meeting someone in real life? With the result that you’re focused on the elements previously described (body, tone of voice and word), but are saddled continuously with incomplete information? So that your brain needs to make over-hours to understand all these pieces of information?
Let’s talk porn, a phenomenon more accessible than ever before. I think the difference between porn and having intimate sex with someone (you love) is, in some areas, similar to the difference between digital media use and talking to someone in real life. The similarity is that they both have a body-mind problem. Watching porn is a great satisfaction to the mind for many people, but the body remains relatively inactivated. Similar to scrolling through Instagram, which is mostly an experience for the mind as well. Surely, you could argue that it is therefore influencing your body, but the energy felt during real-time events is undoubtedly stronger.
This can be negative energy as well. If you’re often rejected by women or men, or if you struggle with social acceptance, then the digital world is a pleasant alternative. Perhaps not as valuable, but it is better than nothing. Nevertheless, there is a danger in that, since it is likely that the digital world becomes a safe haven.
The more time you spend in isolation on your devices, the less time you spend with other people. And, although we are social creatures, being social and emotionally connected to other humans is a skill, which will decline if not maintained regularly**. Being human and connecting to yourself is a skill, and, just the same, won’t evolve if you don’t put yourself out in the open.
For me, it comes down to this; choosing for the digital safe haven is accessible and pleasant at times, but has low returns in the long run. Confronting yourself with the real world is complex and ambiguous, but finding your place in yourself and the world is where the real gold can be found.
Note my choice of words of, “at times” in the first sentence of the previous paragraph. There are situations imaginable where the digital world is the better option. Some moments in your life can be so overwhelming that the distraction, which the digital world brings, is your best call. Nevertheless, if you can find some space to face reality, I think you always should; armed with patience, curiosity, and surrender as your best tools.
The Good Side
The total sum of the above-described themes is perhaps not as cheerful as most articles about our digital world. Most of us probably agree that the time in which we live can be exciting and, yes, thinking about the possibilities of virtual and augmented reality can be out-of-this-world cool. Besides, I have laughed so many times using my phone, and there are more fascinating documentaries out there then I will ever be able to see. So, where does that leave us?
Maybe it leaves us right back at the beginning; with moments where we become conscious of our behaviour. Not changing anything, just noticing. Slowly developing a healthy relationship with the millions of impulses we face every day.