It is said if you want to get your family around the dinner table together, just switch off the Wi-Fi in the house. The WhatsApp outage last night caused pandemonium throughout the world. Without ticks appearing next to a sent message all sorts of paranoia kicked in. “Am I being ignored?” “Is there something wrong with my phone?” Heart palpitations, cold sweats, people felt lost without their mode of communication.
What does that say about our generation? Technology has become our masters rather than tools. What is supposed to help us get things done faster and more efficiently, essentially consumes more of our time thus slowing us down and piling on more pressure.
Moreover, such modes of communication have literally killed off the warmth in interaction. No one likes to get upfront and personal anymore. Technology has facilitated a way to avoid intimacy. Where once a spouse might pick up the phone and say “I love you,” or a parent might pause to embrace their child and ask about their day, today it’s a heart emoji and a virtual embrace.
Many will argue that they’re not addicted to their phones. Here’s a small test. See if you can go twenty-four hours without looking at your WhatsApp. After all, if you can’t go 24 hours without drinking alcohol, you are considered an alcoholic. If you can’t go 24 hours without smoking, you are considered addicted to nicotine. Arguably, if you can’t go 24 hours without WhatsApp, that implies addiction as well.
I’m not naive enough to think that we can reverse the trend entirely. With smartphones a part of every child’s reality, we face a formidable challenge. But we can certainly look to regain control over our devices rather than becoming subservient to them.
My wife and I lead busy lives and I can find myself communicating via WhatsApp, Facebook messenger and email all at once. It comes with the territory. But we also have an understanding that when we are talking to each other, the devices go down immediately. If we go out, mobile phones stay in the pocket and only surface if there’s an issue at home. My daughter inspired the idea that when I might be out with friends all phones are placed face down on the table. First one to pick theirs up pays the bill.
What are you sacrificing at the expense of social media? Consider honestly the extent to which it might be impacting on the “normal” in your life. Think about what went up in your life during the hour that WhatsApp went down. Then look to nurture that in your life and relationships going forward.