By Tagbarha Malcolm, (FHNR)
My findings as a researcher has revealed that the average person spends 4 hours of their day surfing through their mobile phones. My wife is even one of the culprits in this. Her mobile phone has become a compulsory ritual to start her day and end the day as well. So many of us are guilty of this too. Our mobile phones has become our first and last point of exchange everyday, the privileged receiver of the final good nights and first good mornings as it were.
The proliferation of new social media applications have even brought this societal problem to a new high, one that today’s people are grappling with.
The World Wide Web came with the grand promise of facilitating more seamless connections between people. People who wouldn’t have been able to naturally connect due to geographical barriers, nevertheless, it has brought alongside a huge societal malaise that we must address.
Though these innovations are offering us new possibilities, however, at the same time, it is taking away a part of our humanity and our presence of mind and our sense of value for the things that really matter to us.
Today we have so many electronic friends and very few real friends. It is common and troubling to see a group of friends who go out for lunch, sit on the same table and each of them armed with his/her phone and connecting with supposed friends who are thousands of kilometers away. This has made proximity to now have a new meaning. A meaning that is not defined by geography but bandwidth.
It is shocking how people pay so much to register for conferences and networking seminars and they do everything but have real conversations and new connections because they are trying to stay in touch with their online constituency.
The youths of today who are called millennials, now practically live in the online world. And for the most, they are barely able to put in a complete hour of focus into a task, without indulging a bit in social media. And in my thinking, social media is the new weapon of mass distraction. Fathers and mothers are no longer present at home. Students are half conscious in class. Workers in the digital world, only manage to put in around 50% attention into their work. Everyone is trying to grapple with the pressure. It is part of the drawbacks of the digital renaissance which we need to manage by all means.
And the way to manage this is to first accept that it is truly a problem. We don’t have to wait for the government (or any external agent for that matter) to legislate social media controls before we bring this virus under check. This reminds me of some restaurants I visited when I travelled out of the country, located either in France, Belgium, Switzerland and the US, who have begun to introduce the ban of the use of mobile phones during meals. They do this by putting a lock box outside the eating area just to help people communicate, converse and connect better and deeply with one another.
Meanwhile, we are not powerless in this matter and in the same way the most of us have built this habit of surfing the internet, over time, we can as well decide to make small lifestyle changes to get us on the correctional track. We can start by putting our device on silent whenever we are meeting with friends and loved ones, then turn them upside down and until you are able to totally put them away from you at certain moments in the day. It shouldn’t be your first port of call in the morning and the last thing we do at night. No. This could be a great way to start the detoxification process.
Let’s give our humanity a chance.
Tagbarha Malcolm, (FHNR) Is The Pioneer Chief Press Secretary To Sapele LGA Council