On Mindless Consumption
Scrolling. Mindless scrolling. That's what I'm doing. I'm waiting at Belle Tire to get a tire replacement. I'm in my work inbox and I'm scrolling. What am I looking for? Nothing, really. I'm waiting for a new email to magically appear. Not a specific email, mind you. Anything will do. The dopamine rush that accompanies the blue dot and vibration of a new email happens whether it's a crucial email or spam addressed to someone names Nathalie. So I wait. Then go to Instagram. Then Gmail. Back to Outlook. Clicking for a digital high.
I look up from my phone. Everyone else is staring down intently at their Apple, Samsung, or whatever mobile hardware they sport. The old lady next to me is reading a blog on how to get her dog to stop pissing in the house. I can tell because her TEXT IS HUGE, yet she's still got the phone two inches from her face. One guy is on Instagram. Someone else is on Facebook. But everyone, to a man, in the waiting room is on their phones. It's endemic. It's an issue.
According to Nielson, the average American spends over 11 hours a day looking at a screen. Computer, smartphone, TV; almost half of our day is spent looking at a digital device. And smartphones are becoming an increasing contributor this, with the average consumer spending five hours a day on their phone. I'm the epitome of this mindless consumption. I work in spreadsheets, have meetings on Skype, check Instagram habitually. When the day is done, I close my laptop, only to get it back out again to binge on Netflix.
I'm of the modern era that can't defecate without checking a social media platform. We even piss with one hand and check football scores in the other. I can't tell you how many times I've been to restaurants and witnessed entire dates spent with both parties on their phones, the conversation consisting of grunts and head nods. In an age where we're as connected with the world around us as ever, we can't maintain eye contact, let alone carry a conversation, with the person across the table from us. I'm not advocating a mass exodus from social media, television, or from the World Wide Web. These mediums have the ability and opportunity to provide incredible value for consumers, business, relationships, and more. But we need to seriously examine how we use these tools. Meaningless, low-value content and mindless consumption is taking away time from our days and making us miserable.
Let's close our laptops, put our phones out of reach and live a little. Right after you finish this blog post, of course.