Social psychoses

Taylor Rocca, Copy/Web Editor Ω

Whatever happened to silence?

That may sound strange coming from someone who enjoys interacting with people, having conversations and meeting new and unique individuals.

That too may sound strange from someone who enjoys interacting with people through the use of social media. Just how much do I enjoy social media? Let me open up my smartphone to make sure I don’t miss anything…

Feel free to follow me on Twitter (@manovrboard), Instagram (@manovrboard), FourSquare, add me as a friend or contact on Facebook or LinkedIn, check out my blog at upallnight11.blogspot.ca or my Tumblr at manovrboard.tumblr.com. Heck, you can even exchange your bubbly adult beverage preferences with me on this nifty little social media application called Untappd.

Yes, I am probably more guilty than most people.

In fact, as I write this, I take momentary breaks to check both my Facebook and Twitter.

With all of that being said, just when does it become too much? I am slowly realizing that it may be catching up to me. And not in a good way.

These days, in the age of social media, I find myself growing more exhausted with the regular interactions I have with those around me.

We live in a society overrun and oversaturated by communication. Whether it is the smartphone in our pocket, the tablet in our backpack or the laptop on our desk, we are connected to the world around us like never before.

Social media applications run through these devices have almost replaced face-to-face communication. How often do you find yourself with a friend only to see them paying more attention to their phone? Whether they are texting, tweeting or reading Facebook updates, the sad reality is that they are paying more attention to people out in cyber space than they are to you, the person in their company.

The frightening thing is that this trend isn’t likely to slow as social media usage and attachment to smartphones rises.

According to a study released by the Pew Internet & American Life Project in September 2012, 66 per cent of people aged 18 to 29 own a smartphone. A similar report from Pew released in November 2012 discovered that 67 per cent of cell phone users find themselves checking their phones even when they aren’t receiving a call or message.

Michelle Drouin of Indiana University — Purdue University described this sensation as “phantom vibration syndrome.” According to a study by Drouin, published in Science Direct, 89 per cent of undergraduates experienced phantom vibrations.

People are becoming physiologically conditioned to the expectation of having their smartphone ring in their pocket! If that isn’t scary, I don’t know what is.

Dr. Larry Rosen, psychology professor at California State University, also suggested young adults who have a strong Facebook presence show more signs of psychological disorders, antisocial behaviours and aggressive tendencies.

I can certainly say that I have experienced a number of the issues described above. Phantom vibrations and antisocial behaviour are definitely on that list. This realization frightens me. It frightens me because I know I am not the only one out there experiencing this.

By being so oversocialized in the world of wireless and mobile communication I find myself growing ever more antisocial when I leave the safety of my keyboard or smartphone. It’s not because I no longer know how to socialize in face-to-face interaction. Rather, I believe it’s an oversaturation of communication and interaction that has exhausted me, leaving me unwilling to interact as much as I normally would in face-to-face contact.

I think it’s important we all silence our mobile devices in order to calm our social media psychoses, even if just for an hour or two here and there. Exchange some cyber interaction for some true social interaction and see how much better you feel about yourself, those around you and the rest of the world.

Maybe it’s not silence I have been searching for, but rather an escape from the buzzing, both real and imaginary, coming from my pocket.

copy@truomega.ca

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