incredibly well connected, yet desperately lonely

by Josh

A couple of nights ago, two friends and myself went to see “Lebbis”, a Dutch comedian.
Before the show started, I had a look around the audience and I noticed, how many people were staring into their smartphones.
There was this man right in front of us, his wife next to him, playing cards on his iphone.
The way he held it, was so caring, and when he stopped playing, to surf the web a little, he caressed the little round button like a….
Only occasionally did he talk to his wife, not taking his eyes off the high-definition screen.
Our row was narrow, so we had to stand up, to let another couple pass.
After a couple of minutes I saw them seated next to us.
Both of their pale faces had no expression, illuminated by tiny screens.
Needless to say that they didn’t talk to each other until the show started.
There were many people like these two in the audience.
I don’t own a smartphone, but I guess if I had one I wouldn’t be any different.
It seems like we are, as a culture, more and more losing our capability to be bored.
Like every waking moment has to be filled with some kind of entertainment, otherwise we can’t take it.
It’s not mere habituation. It’s not merely the need for information. It’s not just fun and play.
It’s addiction.

We are addicted to novelty.
It’s kind of normal that things become less exciting the more familiar they become.
But the internet gives us access to a never ending stream of new things.
News, movies, music, messages, memes, science; you name it, they’ve got it.

The scientific term for this is “arousal addiction”.
In a normal addiction, you just want more. In arousal addiction, you want “different”.
It’s like a mosquito bite that you can scratch forever and it will never go sore.
But it is no cure for the itch.
All it does, is make the real world incredibly boring.
Unfortunately, I have no scientific data on what it does, in the long run to our brain.

But it is obvious what it does to our relationships.
It’s obvious what it does to our creativity.
It’s obvious what it does to our patience.
It’s obvious what it does to our focus.
It’s obvious what it does to our ability to appreciate the magic of just being alive.
It’s obvious what it does to our boys.
It’s obvious that this is just the beginning.
We are sliding into a cultural ADHD.
Maybe I should rename my blog and call it don’t whatsapp while you pee.
We are so incredibly well connected and yet, so desperately lonely.

Here is a really nice illustration of the top regrets of the dying, a powerful reminder of what is really important in life.
I wonder how many years it will take until
“I wish I had spent less time in front of a screen” will show up on that list.

Here’s something that’s been working well for me recently:

The next time you feel the urge to check something online,
Breathe deeply for a moment and just feel the urge.
Is it really necessary to check? What’s the worst that could happen if I don’t?
Am I trying to avoid more important tasks?
Be aware of how it’s almost a physical need.
Breathe, then take a conscious decision.
Breathe again.

Welcome to the real world. 

Het enige, wat je menselijkerwijs kan doen, om in de buurt van je eigen geluk te komen – dat is als je iets doet, doe het met aandacht.
Ook met liefde, maar vooral met aandacht. – Lebbis