Is Your Smartphone Making You Stupid?!
A Dose of Reality To Make You Stop & Think
By Kris Deichler, Associate Partner & Mentorship Coach, Lighthouse International
“I can’t even imagine what the suicide and the homicide and, just the rates of depression and accidental deaths due to overdose are going to look like in the future. It’s going to reach epidemic proportions. The statistics are already alarming and yet nobody’s sounding any alarm bells!”
~ Simon Sinek
How much on average would you say you use your smartphone on any given day?
Where do you tend to keep your phone when you’re spending time with someone, or when you’re working? How do you feel when your battery is low and you’re not near a power source - anxious, uncomfortable? To the degree you need to have and keep your phone near you at all times, the more addicted you’re likely to be to it and potentially damaging your device could become in your life.
There is a medical term today called ‘digital dementia’, which relates to the fact that we are becoming so dependent on our electronic devices these days, especially smartphones, that we are seriously losing the ability to use and apply our brains properly.
In other words, our phones are reducing our mental faculties and levels of intelligence, not increasing them as perhaps their inventors had hoped. And the effects could even be permanent!
Beyond what an overuse, or over dependency of our devices are having on us physically and mentally, there is an emotional / relational problem too.
Are We Neglecting Relationships?
The more addicted to our devices we become the more we seek comfort in them, making us less satisfied, fulfilled and happy in life because we start neglecting our relationships.
How many relationships are under threat right now because of computer games, overuse of social media and Netflix binging? We know, we all know we are losing the ability to sit and connect with someone and genuinely give them our undivided attention without wondering if ‘so and so’ has replied to our last text yet, or how many likes we got on that Instagram post we put up earlier.
I’m sure that none of what I’m writing here is necessarily new to many people as these messages and warnings have been circulating more and more the more we see the effects of technology in our lives, and especially on our young people.
What's The Most Important Principle of Relationships?
However, what’s important is to recognise how this is impacting and depreciating our ability to practice one of the most important principles in life we need to succeed and be happy - Empathic Communication.
Our ability to truly and genuinely listen to and empathise with someone else, to ensure that they feel heard, appreciated and respected by us - which is key to building trust and fulfilling relationships - can’t be learned and developed, let alone mastered, purely through a screen.
We need to be sitting with a real human being, one-to-one, face-to-face because there is so much more to what someone is ever saying to us than their words.
It’s the energy that they say them with, the feeling you get from them, their body language, their whole demeanour.
We all know that someone can tell us they’re “fine” when they clearly really aren’t, especially when they’re really bad at hiding it, but many other signals and intricacies of human relational behaviour are more subtle and less easy to read.
Plus, we need to be there, to be seen and felt by the other person too for them to feel understood and to trust us to open up more.
What Can We Do Differently?
So please, next time you’re at a dinner table with family and friends, having a catch up with a colleague, holding a business meeting - try putting your phone away more and giving that person, the human being in front of you, the same attention you’d want to receive from them. The habit or actions prescribed for practising Empathic Communication effectively is known as ‘seek first to understand, then to be understood’ and if we really want to understand other people, we need, to be there with them in far more than just our physical presence alone. I'm as guilty of this as you are but I'm working hard to change it.
Here’s a great little video to press this home with some valuable insights and quotes from an increasingly legendary leadership speaker and author, Simon Sinek. If you’d like to learn more about this principle of Empathic Communication and how you can apply that more in your own life, talk to one of our mentorship coaches on life chat now...
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