The way that we communicate has changed drastically over the last twenty years, and with it, so has our pace of life. We have gone from an age where you’d phone and see if someone was at home if we wanted to speak with them. If they were out, the conversation would keep for another day. Now, we can instantly connect with anyone in any number of ways. There may be countless benefits to being able to communicate with anyone at any time. But, what cost does constant digital connectivity have on our lives?
We are exposed to countless methods of digital connection – and in the workplace, this has made working incalculably more efficient. When fax was the sole form of communication, liaising was a slow and tedious process. In the modern-day world of digital communication, however, you have the ability to speedily send fax online, as well as communicate by email and through the use of online communication tools like Trello and Slack.
Outside of the workplace, we can communicate by text and instant messaging anytime we like since we carry out smartphones around with us like a firmly attached technological appendage, which means we are always plugged in. This means that we also have easy and constant access to social media, which entails its own sort of consequences.
This level of digital connectivity has made us more efficient workers and has, in many ways, made it easier to build new friendships and grow our support networks. Nevertheless, constant digital connectivity entails some negative effects, too, which are worth stressing.
With Constant Digital Connectivity, You Can’t Get A Break
The ability to switch off and unwind seems like a very abstract concept at times. With the constant reminder that every aspect of your life is just one notification away, it can be hard to stop thinking about work, your relationships, social issues, and politics.
This can lead to anxiety and can cause problems in sleeping patterns. This is especially true if you are using your phone late into the evening, just before bed.
The Fear Of Missing Out
Along with social media comes the fear of missing out. The sense that other people are off living their best lives, and you somehow are not. This can have a detrimental effect on our lives. Constantly comparing ourselves with others through posed Instagram photos does not, however, provide an accurate representation of anybody’s life. Even though we can admit this fact, it does not stop us from feeding these feelings and allowing them to form into another cause of anxiety and depression.
A Stream of Negative Thoughts
Opinions can be contagious when it comes to the internet. There have been some significant shifts in the political landscape over the last few years. Whatever your views, the deep polarisation can be felt to a tremendous degree on social media.
This deep polarisation can lead to antagonistic arguments and ill feelings towards others. Even the apolitical will feel the pinch. Added to this, it has become hard to truly understand reality when there is a constant on-going battle with fake news, misinformation, and bias.
Is Digital Detox the Answer?
For many, removing digital communications from their lives is a solution. There has been a significant movement of people moving away from social media or limiting their exposure to it.
Finding a balanced solution will depend on the person. For some, the answer would be to uninstall offending apps and limit access to sites via a computer. For others, a set of strict rules around the length of screen time, and the times of day that smartphones are used is the answer.
Whatever your views on the matter, finding the right balance when it comes to our exposure to technology is essential for our mental health and overall happiness.