I'm going to be straight up with all of you - I think I'm addicted to the Internet. While my job involves my sitting at a desk working online all day, I can't get away from it once the work day is over. Upon getting home, I sit down at my desk and continue my regular online activities. With that being said, I don't think I'm as bad as the people found in a recent study of so-called "technology addicts."
The Mail Online is reporting on a study from digital marketing group dnx on a troubling new trend that sees people obsessed with the Internet and technology going up to 48 hours without interacting with another human being. But people obsessed with the Internet totally interact with humans, right? Well, that's true, but they aren't physically interacting with other humans. For example, they aren't traveling to their friend's house to hang out on the couch, but rather texting or video calling them from the comfort of their room.
The research study took place in the UK and interviewed a thousands adults. Most of those surveyed aren't as bad as the ones described above. Sure, they still use digital communication technology to perhaps an unhealthy degree, but they at least physically interact with humans from day to day.
The above groups combined make up about 16 percent of those surveyed and 19 percent of those people are the ones who save their human interaction for the chat rooms and Skype logs of the world. Not that that's a bad thing. Surely they still interact with humans on their day-to-day errands, right? Well, as it turns out, this particular group of the population also avoids humanity every chance they can get by using machines to replace functions that would normally require human interaction like buying a train ticket or getting lunch by buying from a vending machine.
Of course, the people who ran the study find this a little alarming. The messages seems to be that it's great people are adopting technology so rapidly, but don't forget that there are actual real people out in the world as well. Just because you can talk to your pal via text doesn't mean you shouldn't meet up with him for some good ol' physical bonding.
While there is a large portion of the population that is keeping up with technology, there appears to be a separate group who just can't keep up. Seventeen percent of those surveyed said that they were being left behind by the constant onward march of technology. This leaves them making simple mistakes like ordering the wrong quantity from an online shop or clicking on malicious links because they really think that they're about to win one of those newfangled iPads.
The survey, while conducted in the UK, does point out a problem that has been plaguing pretty much every other modern nation on Earth. I'm going to pretend that my experience in the U.S. can be applied to any other technophile's experience. I avoid contact with humanity whenever I can not because I hate it, but technology has made it easier to do. Why should I buy a movie ticket from the box office when I can just swipe my card at a machine that will print one out for me?
The best example of this phenomenon, however, is seen in Japan. They even have their own special word for it - "hikikomori." It literally means "pulling inward, being confined" but has since been applied to a rising portion of the population that essentially put themselves under voluntary house arrest to avoid the outside and the people who inhabit it. These "hikikomori" are even more hardcore than the people in UK study because they usually don't even leave the house for more than six months. With more than 700,000 Japanese adults going with that lifestyle, I don't know if the US and UK could ever, or even want, to catch up.
All of this is to say that you should get out more. Technology is great and it does make our lives easier, but it doesn't give you an excuse to ignore humanity. I'm as guilty as the next guy when it comes to avoiding people because it's more convenient to use technology or, if you're like me, have some form of an impediment that makes social interactions occasionally awkward. It's still a good idea to brush up on those physical communication skills just in case you actually have to use them someday. While I don't suggest you take a year off from using the Internet, you may actually have to interact with real people when it comes to a job or family.
Besides, you're going to get lonely one of these days, right? Right?
Do you think your physical interactions have been negatively affected by technology? Or has it made you even more social? Let us know in the comments.[Lead image: TurboTax Ad]