— TIMELINE OF MAJOR TECHNOLOGICAL DEVELOPMENTS IN THE LIFE OF AMANDA—
AGE 10: Read minimum 20 books a year
(sweet, innocent and unassuming baby Amanda)
AGE 14: Got my first iPod Touch (after much arguing)
AGE 14: Got first laptop (Thanks to the government)
AGE 16: Got my first phone (Useless and wasn’t even touch screen but at least I finally had one)
AGE 16: Got Snapchat
AGE 17: Got Facebook and Instagram
AGE 18: Got first iPhone (Was finally old enough to get my own phone contract)
(FUN FACT: I owned a car before I owned an iPhone)
AGE 19: Giving friends log-ins for both Netflix and Stan log-in details (Yep, I am THAT person)
AGE 20: Reliant on and obsessed with technology
(the face of a media addict)
When I look back, even just a few years, I noticed the astronomical increase of my media consumption, that has slowly become a reliance on technology. I like to blame university for my constant use of laptops and my job as a Marketing and Media Support Staff for my frequent use of social media, particularly Instagram.
But I know that I am lying to myself.
Honestly, I have fallen victim to the ‘Millennial Curse’ of heavy media usage and a severe case of FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out). I use platforms such as Instagram and Snapchat to stay up-to-date and in-the-know about things that, I don’t even think I care about.
Reflecting upon how I use my phone, it is amazing the amount of features it has and what I use it for. I have ceased use of my calculator, alarm clock and banks, in place of my phone.
But the thing I noticed the most was how I use it to cover my own insecurity of social situations.
I have a security blanket! I never had one as child, but somehow as an adult I have developed a need for one?!
Consider this most recent situation I was in:
— I was at a party, where I actually only knew one person and was the only non-science student there, and although everyone was nice, I was uncomfortable as I could not contribute to the conversation about their classes, so without any second thought, I instantly grabbed my phone to scroll aimlessly through Instagram, rather than asking questions to include myself…
Considering I am fairly outgoing and do not consider myself someone who suffers from anxiety, I was shocked when I thought about how I acted when placed in this situation. Upon further investigation, I often reach for my phone when uncomfortable or, simply, bored. I do it at bus stops, in the morning before getting out of bed, when sitting in my car waiting to pick people up— so way more than necessary!
But, this begs so many question:
“What was it about this 5.5-inch screen that I like was better than communicating with actual humans?”
Have I replaced normal relationships for one with a black screen? (Honestly, it is beginning to feel like a Black Mirror episode)
(Get it- phones are black mirrors?!!?) source
Although, I am comforted (which is terrible, I know) by the thought that this theme is common among younger people, I am not alone in this.
This reaction is described as ‘escapist’ behaviour. This describes how people are unable to cope with negative or uncomfortable situations, which in turn can increase one’s anxiety in the future. Various studies agree with the relationship between phone usage and anxiety. Although, many feel comforted by knowing their phone is in their pocket or bag. It is a misleading issue, our brain lies to us, essentially, because we have trained it over the years to think it actually needs the phone. The statistics are quite concerning and communicate the serious effects that come from constant consumption.
When I look back at my life, I did not gain a heavy reliance in media until I got my first iPhone, when I had 24/7 access to my social media apps. My self-esteem has decreased, my sleep pattern has become irregular, my social anxiety and awkwardness has increased and my relationships are based mostly online now.
I also wish I could go back to being 10 and not having all this technology, but I know with a lot of my university resources being online, my work being on social media and my planning skills being reliant on Facebook group chats, I will never be able to go back to that state. However, maybe when I go on holiday next year for 3 weeks, I take that time away from social media and see the impact it has on me!