“If you wake up and crave a drink you’re an alcoholic… If you wake up and the first thing you do is check your phone, you may be an addict.” –Simon Sinek. When I first heard this from Simon I didn’t think much of it, but as I sit in restaurants, airports, and even meetings at work you can clearly see the dependency we have as a culture to technology. I have been working on a few things in my life that I wanted to share as we look deeper into this technology addiction. Let’s talk.
The way that Simon Sinek describes this problem is a dopamine addiction. The short version of dopamine is the feeling you get when you accomplish your goals or you achieve something. Other things that release dopamine are alcohol, gambling, drugs, and even work. This is why you see so many people become addicts to these substances because they crave the feeling of dopamine that they experience when these substances are abused. Simon also talks about if the substance is left unbalanced then it can cause us to not only sacrifice our time and money, but also our relationships.
So what does this have to do with technology? It is a dopamine hit! When you check your Facebook and see the amount of likes, or Instagram to see how many people have viewed your photo you are getting a hit of dopamine! It feels good! This is why we have families going to dinner and hardly talking anymore and why we have cyber bullying and kids committing suicide over things said on a screen. We crave the like. We crave the follow. We crave the dopamine.
Now you’re probably thinking Matt, you have a phone and do the same things, how can you be pointing the finger? I will agree to an extent which I will explain next, but first I want to circle back to one of my first blogs and what I believe in. I talked about my belief in people and the technology is here to assist and not replace humans in the work place. I think that as we continually innovate and move towards a more technological dependent state we run the risk of eliminating the “human” in the world we live in. I want to continually emphasize that people are at the core of what we do. As soon as we begin to take that away I fear for our future.
If we continue down the road we are headed I can see us not only relying on technology to communicate, but to do everything in our lives. Everyone will meet on tinder, travel through uber, replace having Christmas dinner with a skype session and so on. I am not a pessimist though, I believe in our people. I think that we can continually innovate and use technology for good such as medical advances and improvement of our quality of life, but we cannot begin to replace the human experience.
As I said earlier I wanted to give you some examples of ways that I am beginning to detach myself from my technology problem. I am now down to two main social media interfaces, snapchat and twitter. I do still have a Facebook, but do not check it very often. I do not pick up my phone for the first 30 minutes of the day nor do I use my phone while I am at a meal with someone that I know. I also will be moving my chargers to the living room and switching back to my old alarm clock here very soon. It is not that I am wanting to eliminate technology from my life, it is that I value the true connection I have when I am with people and even by myself that I do not want to lose when I am out experiencing what the world has to offer.
So I challenge you, go home and try to look at where you can cut some technology out of your life. Try a phone stack next time you and your friends go out to dinner or when you’re in your next meeting take a look at who is continually checking your phone. Your time is valuable and it is an asset that we cannot earn back. So how do you want to spend your time? With your family, loved ones or out experiencing this amazing world we have? Or stuck behind a screen, waiting for the next like… the choice is yours.