Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Dominate Your Devices

"Are you using your device? Or is your device using you?"
~Denzel Washington

Last week, I broke my fast with some inspirational videos. One of the videos opened with an interview with Academy Award-winning actor Denzel Washington, talking about our phones. The quote above filed its own place in the filing cabinet of my mind.


Many people (including myself) have fell victim to this nagging need to keep our phones on us at all times. Even before we make a mad dash to the bathroom, some of us grab our cell phone (I'm guilty!), which brings me to this question:
Do I control my devices, or do my devices control me?


**DISCLAIMER**  THIS IS NOT AN ANTI-SOCIAL MEDIA/SMARTPHONE RANT. This blog is my written testimonial of how I personally overcame social media/phone addiction, and to bring awareness.  Social media, when used responsibly and with good intentions, can be a wonderful tool!  The key is to use it RESPONSIBLY. 

About five years ago, my uncle and aunt wanted to have dinner with me and my mother before they got back on the highway to head home. They bought dinner and came by my mom's house.  We all gathered at the kitchen table to have dinner.  To be honest, that was the first time, in a long time, that I sat at the table with family to eat dinner.  Usually, each person would find a spot near the television and eat.  I found myself grabbing my phone before sitting down to break bread with my family.


My uncle, aunt and mother ate and talk, while I ate and scrolled. 
Suddenly, I had a check in my spirit: Put that phone down.


Photo courtesy of Google
**Not my photo**




"Am I boring to you?"


My boyfriend at the time (now my husband) asked me that question while we were riding in the car.  As he drove, I scrolled through Facebook.  I didn't realize that he noticed, much less bothered him.  That question struck a chord with me; it made me realize that the time dedicated to spending time together, I gave away to social media. 
The irony is this:  there was a time when I felt the same way my husband did.


A guy I dated years ago scrolled away and texted others while I sat next to him on the couch. He was physically there, but he was mentally (and spiritually) elsewhere. One other time during our conversation, he would occasionally look up at me from his phone to respond, then look back at this phone. While he listened to me talk (at least I guess he was listening), his eyes, for the most part, remained glued to his phone's screen.  And the very same way he treated me, was the way I treated my boyfriend (now husband) during that drive. The phone and all of its glorious apps had my undivided attention. That was a slap-in-the-face reality check. 





Photo courtesy of Google
**Not my photo**


I remember seeing a cartoon of two pictures, side by side, of a family sitting on the couch. 

One picture was from 1950s era I believe, where the family were sitting together, watching television or listening to the radio.  The other picture, however, pictured the family in today's era. They were all sitting together, but each person was on their phone or tablet, oblivious to one another. Even the family dog had a tablet, much to my amusement. It's a sad, yet accurate depiction of many people today.  I've noticed how there are many children under age four who can operate a cell phone before they are potty trained!  No judgment, just an observation.

I believe there is a hidden agenda to create an addiction to and dependency upon technology.  There is almost an app for everything--from creating a budget, to tracking your ovulation, to losing belly fat "fast!"  First, smartphones. Now we have "smart TVs." We have an invisible chain linking our wrists to our phones and we thirst for WiFi.  I gave my android another name: "Glorified Tether."


There is this "thing" that triggers our brain to think, "Oh, let me check Facebook; let me see who liked or commented on my post."   There are several scientific studies as to why many are so dependent upon social media and phones. One of contributing factors to social media addiction is called DOPAMINE. The following is an excerpt from this article.

"Physiology: Brain Chemistry Leaves Us Craving More “Likes”

Neuroscientists are studying the effects of social media on the brain and finding that positive interactions (such as someone liking your tweet) trigger the same kind of chemical reaction that is caused by gambling and recreational drugs.
According to an article by Harvard University researcher Trevor Haynes, when you get a social media notification, your brain sends a chemical messenger called dopamine along a reward pathway, which makes you feel good. Dopamine is associated with food, exercise, love, sex, gambling, drugs … and now, social media. Variable reward schedules up the ante; psychologist B.F. Skinner first described this in the 1930s. When rewards are delivered randomly (as with a slot machine or a positive interaction on social media), and checking for the reward is easy, the dopamine-triggering behavior becomes a habit."  For more information, click this link from an article posted by Harvard University.

Privacy and safety are things of the past. Many post their whereabouts with the "Check In" feature on Facebook, tagging their physical location. Every move, every post is tracked. When we download an app, in order to utilize the app, we must give the app "permission" to access our contacts, photos, microphone and more. The question is, why?

The scariest thing I've noticed, which was a major contributor to my decision to depart from the social media scene, is how an ad would pop up on my social media pages after having a discussion about the very thing being advertised! I recall talking to my husband on the phone about some granola bars we both enjoy. After getting off that phone call, I logged into Instagram. During my scroll, an Instagram ad, for that exact brand and flavor of granola bars, was in my feed!  I didn't even know that company even had a social media page and following! It was one of the freakiest, most intrusive moments I'd ever had. I felt some kind of way after seeing that. It happened again after a conversation about potato chips.  Same brand and flavor that was discussed, was an Instagram in that same time frame.  These are the moments where I miss the simpler times before Internet and androids. 

After my departure from social media, I felt this huge relief. Relief from taking, filtering and posting the perfect selfie that gained the wrong attention more often than not. Relief from the need to know what was going on with the 1,000+ "friends" I had. Relief from being bogged down from the negativity and schism that trafficked my pages. Relief from having my peace disturbed. 

As I reflect upon how life was prior to the year 2000, I realized that these things available to us now are simply modern conveniences; they haven't made life any more enjoyable. In fact, it crippled and decreased real life, person to person interaction and connection. It created more frustration because the self-esteem of many are now dependent upon a Like and the Love button. Social media is so prevalent to where some people believe things aren't valid until it's posted.  Here's an example: You're in a relationship? It ain't "real"
until you post about it and change your status from Single to In A Relationship/Engaged/Married. You're running a business? You "gotta" have a social media page.  Most of my clients were actually gained through real life connection and interaction; not an Inbox. 


God's original plan and purpose for mankind was to dominate the earth (Genesis 1:26, 28). We are supposed to have dominion; however, we've allowed things to have dominion over us. Take your rightful place and dominate your device. If you are having trouble being attached to your phone and/or social media, ask God to help you in that area. With the help of the Lord, you can break that addiction. He will help you for He is our present help!

Check out this video.


I hope and pray that you were inspired.


Shairon 


2 comments:

  1. Wonderful and great blog. You are absolutely right, I thank God for you. Thank you allowing God to use you. Please keep these blogs coming.

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    1. Hello! Thank you so much for reading and responding. My apologies for the delayed response. Feel free to share, and stay tuned! To God be the glory!

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