Below I posted a link to a Bill Maher clip where he talks about the effects technology has on us and compares it to an addiction. It is only 5 minutes and worth a watch.
He starts off by referencing a recent “60 Minutes” segment where someone talks about everything that Silicon Valley creates is for the purpose of making us feel compelled to check in constantly with our technology. Some people use a laptop or Ipad consistently but this is mostly referencing our smart phone use. Basically, we check our phones constantly throughout the day because OUR BRAINS WANT DOPAMINE. Dopamine happens to be directly related to pleasure. The chance we could get a reward, such as a like from social media or a text from someone we like, is exactly what our brains desire. Our brains are constantly seeking pleasure and trying to avoid pain. In the clip Bill Maher explains why this is comparable to nicotine-this is an addiction! Checking our phones and other technology is habit-forming and Bill doesn’t really talk too much about this specifically, but he references it: excessive use and addiction can be harmful. Bill also compares this to the food industry where a lot of food (really just the snack foods in a supermarket) are processed in a lab and full of sugar, salt, and fat. We cannot just eat one Oreo or Dorito; we need a lot because our stomachs will not feel full and it tastes so good. Not satisfying or nutritious, but delicious.
The average person checks their phone 2600 times a day. WHAT!? A third of Americans check their phones during meals. Pedestrian deaths are way up because both drivers and pedestrians are looking down at their phones. These statistics are easy to believe when you think about it. Most adults don’t seem to be quite as addicted. I could be wrong, but not from what I see. I feel more concerned for my generation and younger kids who will grow up addicted to technology. Kids will have IPhones when they are 10 before you know it. For all the benefits technology has and continues to create, this is scary and unfortunate. Reading books and other sources of text will go down, which I think means our literacy as a country will decrease. Literacy is not just whether you can read what this blog post says. Literacy includes one’s ability to interpret what they read, think critically about a topic, and more. We will also be constantly distracted and removed from the present moment. Rather than taking the time to really engage with your family at night and those around you, I just see it as being too easy to revert to our phones or other technology.
When I was student teaching last semester my first lesson to start the unit on the book 1984 involved me setting very strict classroom rules to try to resemble what it could be like living in a totalitarian society. Basically, I took away a lot of their rights by not allowing them to speak and only doing as I told them. Otherwise, they were “punished.” I asked them afterwards what a worse punishment would have been that would have actually gotten them fired up. The majority insisted that it was their phones. One girl seemed rather serious that she would have marched to the principal’s office to call her Mom to get her to come to the room. It sounds like they would have gotten out pitchforks and gone wild if I took their phones away for just one period of the school-day. Addiction, man.
I know this is a topic that a lot of people will sort of talk about. Everyone kind of seems to know that too much technology is bad, but addiction will get you. It gets me a lot. I’m not going to be a hypocrite and pretend that I’m not checking my phone often or on my laptop (still have to get a new one) a lot during the day. However, for a while I have gone without any social media apps on my phone, unless you include snapchat. I put my twitter down a while ago and only use Facebook on my laptop. I have noticed that I check my phone a lot less often now. I try to resist the urge to look through it when I can. This doesn’t make me better than anybody, obviously, but I think it benefits me in a lot of ways and I am not just distracting my brain for a while.
I really would love to hear some thoughts from other people about this! Feel free to comment on the post itself or text/ message me in some way. Any thoughts are welcome, clearly, but I would really love to hear from someone who disagrees with what Bill is saying in the clip and what I have added. Thanks!