It is Sunday. Your wife has gone to your in-laws. You are surfing the internet on your phone. Suddenly, a notification on Facebook. A rush of happiness courses through your veins as you click on the notification icon. The rest is inconsequential. Welcome to the smartphone dystopia.
Or so it may seem, as more and more people in the world feel the same rush of happiness while clicking on the notification bell icon. That fleeting rush is due to dopamine, the happiness inducing chemical, in the brain. The same dopamine that rushes every time a smoker smokes a cigarette. When an honest inquiry into the situation is made, the whole system of users glued onto their smartphone screens speaks of a grave truth. Here are Three points dissecting the truth, below.
Human attention is a resource. Companies need your constant attention in order to increase the run time of their apps. The more the run time, more is the money they earn through ads and sponsors. They get the user’s attention by simply exploiting the sense of lack in him. Through well tweaked algorithms the user is lured into checking the screen every time a notification bell rings. The user’s search history on the internet is then processed by the app to recognise his preferences. According to these, new recommendations are shown to him. Thus, trapping him perpetually in the loop of recurring notifications customised by his own preferences.
Social media apps have digitally connected more people than ever before but the real human connect has slowly begun to fade due to the same. Through these apps, people often try to project a personality that they would like to have, but when in reality, do not. Say, for example, they would only upload pictures of them laughing and having a good time, when maybe in reality they are a nervous and depressed wreck most of the times. Therefore, there is tremendous misrepresentation of reality on these social media apps. This gives rise to jealousy, anxiety, depression and a decreased sense of self-worth among peer groups.
This would not have been the case had the connection between peers been real, and not digital. On digital platforms communication is often through texts. A person has the scope of writing his opinions after much thinking, also often without the fear of having his facial expressions read when on social media. But in reality, communication is more spontaneous and real with facial expressions also playing a major role.
This is the reason, that a lot many people find it more comfortable to be social, digitally. This is mostly out of fear of awkwardness during instances of real-life socialisation. Thus, giving rise to enormous social anxiety in the youth of today.
The new millennium had started out with a promise of worldwide connectivity. It was felt to be a huge boon for coming generations and also the previous ones. But as more time passes, it is proving to be a bane instead.
Affinity to smartphones has given rise to digital addiction among the youth. An addiction involving countless hours of being glued to the screens, often to the point of effecting life processes. The postponement of sleeping and eating hours has become common.
Various scientific journals have been published proving the trends that have been brought on by this addiction. Findings include loss of IQ, interpersonal skills, low levels of energy and an enormous increase in mental health issues among regular smartphone users.
People say they are free. They say they have the right to exercise their own free will. Little do they know, that even without their knowledge their will has been hijacked. They have become slaves of app algorithms, trapping them through custom notifications. They have become slaves of the opinions of their peers on social media. They have become slaves of their own minds, scavenging for some distant satisfaction that they think they can get through validation from others. This is the era of digital and tech slavery. Say hello to the smartphone dystopia.