I hail from a generation who were raised without computers, tablets or smartphones. When I grew up, we didn’t even have more than 3 TV channels! Sounds hard to believe nowadays, doesn’t it? I know that makes me sound really old, but in fact it’s not really that very long ago.

Technology developed very fast during the last few decades. The introduction of internet has helped speed that up even faster. I have adapted to these new times and I am now one of the many avid users of all this technology and the internet. I’m a self-confessed enthusiast of social media. Having said that; social media to me doesn’t always feel very social anymore.

It’s not what it used to be when it started. Corporations and brands are now trying to sell us their products by shoving it down our throats in every way possible, and the internet and social media are one of the most used and easiest tools to reach us. Since almost everybody nowadays owns a computer and/or a smartphone, those commercial messages get delivered to us directly at home, via our computer screens, tablets or phones.

Information overloadInformation overload
The solution to information overload

Lately it feels to me as though we are being bombarded with way too much data, impulses & triggers, also commonly known as “information overload“. We are connecting with people via the internet through Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Tumblr, Instagram, Google+, Whatsapp, etc. on our smartphones and that sometimes replaces actual physical connections. There hardly seem to be any moments anymore when we can switch off or tune out. FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) is a reality for many of us. Checking statuses, tweeting, posting, etc. has all become an almost integral part of our lives. All this stuff can easily cause a person to feel lots of anxiety.

I had the pleasure of attending The Next Web Europe 2014 Conference recently in Amsterdam, where Nir Eyal (author of “Hooked“) was one of many speakers. His keynote on ‘building habit forming products’ was very interesting. A video of this keynote talk is below. It will hopefully make you realize how our buttons are being pushed by very smart developers who have studied human behavior and habits.

Getting back to social media and smartphones: I too am guilty of checking my phone more than I probably should. If you were to meet me on the street, chances are that my head is tilted down, as I am looking at the screen of my smartphone or I am taking a picture of something I want to share on social media. (Sidenote: I do try to refrain from using my phone if the occasion doesn’t seem appropriate or if I am in company of people who wouldn’t appreciate it, or just out of a common decency.)

I wonder how our younger generations (growing up without knowing a time before this one) feel or see things when it comes to social interaction. It’s a worrying thought, knowing that social behavior is changing and probably not in the best way. The more the number of friends on social media rises, the fewer actual friends are on it. We all very much need a reminder to sometimes pull the plug, switch off and disconnect to connect. Ironically enough, the video I am sharing with you below was shared by some people I know on Facebook. 🙂 It’s a spoken word film called “Look Up” by Gary Turk (Writer, Director and Verbal Projector) for the (as he calls it) “online generation“. In his words:

‘Look Up’ is a lesson taught to us through a love story, in a world where we continue to find ways to make it easier for us to connect with one another, but always results in us spending more time alone.

I quite like his message, and the way he delivered it. Actually, the title of this blog is one of the lines out of the video. It really makes you think and makes you want to spend less time online and more time offline. Can we still switch off from all the digital distractions and be more present in the real world? Can I? Can you?

Slide to power off,
Fauzia

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