“Consumer culture and the corporations which power it are thus left unproblematized, while individual pathological behaviors are subjected to scrutiny and critique.” I love this quote because it brings attention to a particular kind of shaming, and identifying it as such seems to be a trend these days (see dogshaming).
An abnormal dependence or “addiction” to social media sites and updates like Facebook seems to popularize itself in a way that other addictions cannot. I’ve personally never struggled with anything that could be defined as an addiction per se, but I can’t even conceive how any kind of addiction, whether it be sex or food or porn or self-harming rituals, could gain societal acceptance. (Note – I’m commenting more on how no one would ever wish these behaviors upon others than on the varying levels of stigma they carry).
Regardless of my lack of personal experience I felt that Laura Portwood-Stacer’s article on addiction was particularly enlightening and still applicable because I belong to a generation of tech-savvy 20-year olds who always have Facebook, Gmail, & Tumblr/Reddit/Imgur open in separate tabs on their browser. I was already aware that I spend a large majority of my time staring at a screen (smartphone not included) but to lump these hours together and say that it’s comparable to a 9-5 job shook me up a little.
The interplay between society’s general acceptance of “social media fasts” and one’s paranoia to constantly stay online and be informed of their friends’ whereabouts is a problem the previous generation never had to experience. In my opinion, a large part of society’s acceptance of quitting cold turkey is because society is largely still comprised of the generation that lived a thriving offline life. We’re still currently in that awkward stage of puberty as technology and our dependence on social media and the ways we represent ourselves and learn about others continues to mature.
I recently read an interesting article for another class about what some measures people have taken to give their children the most rewarding and fulfilling educational experience in an age where adapting technology into the classrooms is seen as the reigning paradigm. In short, this article states that many high-ranking executives and handlers of technological design structures opt to sign their kids up for a school curriculum that seems too offline to handle. The school discourages recreational computer usage at home. Kids knit and play interactive games while mastering the multiplication table. Kids are annoyed by their friends when they all meet up and everyone but them are using their phones. But I think the take-away significance of this article are the measures our “wiser” and “more informed” generation are taking to provide what they believe to be the best for their children (aka the future.).
So with society’s commentary and floods of advice inundating all the possible decisions we can possibly make, at the end of the day, I think a better question to ask ourselves in the midst of our technology is if we’re spending our time well. This is completely unintentional, but today I left my phone at home and I won’t lie – it feels like I left a baby crying in a crib* and just walked away. I keep wondering about what notifications I’m missing and how else I need to tend to it, but at the same time, it cries too much anyway so maybe it’s better to get it (meaning my social life, ironically enough) socialized into accepting the fact that I’m not always on call and that even today, I still have to make the most with what I’ve been given.
(*This technique is called the Ferber Method. My parents did it to me. I grew up just fine. Here’s a fictitious interpretation of it that I greatly enjoyed watching from Modern Family: http://www.movieweb.com/tv/TEIlwMIJofRTMP/ferberize)