It is 2016. Take a look around you. There are probably more people on a technological device than not. With each passing day, people are growing more and more dependent on the various portable devices available to us. These devices have become our lifeline, literally. Consider the transformation of the cell phone; its functionality not its physical appearance. Originally it was made for phone calls. Next came the development of being able to send text messages. Add in the camera phone. Fast forward to today; we have everything from our banking to our “to do” lists to our emails to helping us maintain our fitness goals. Smart phones are only becoming more advanced.
A recent trend that has begun to take root is called the “pushback.” It appears as though some people have reached the tipping point and are trying to distance themselves from living life through a screen. However, they are taking a rather contradictory approach to this trend. Through their social media accounts people are posting photos of themselves enjoying some “technology free” time after using their phones to take the picture and create the post. Does this not defeat the purpose of spending time away from the screen? The execution has its faults but the idea is there. Nevertheless, people have begun to revert back to good old face to face communication in the real world.
A new study being done at the University of Washington is looking at this “pushback.” The researchers are predicting that this trend is going to become mainstream rather quickly. Around 400 images gathered from various popular social media sites were analyzed for their content. The university soon discovered that people found very creative and compelling visual representations of technology resistance. The main themes they found to be the most popular were issues of mental health, strengthening interpersonal relationships, a virtual overload and encouraging the creation of areas that are free of technology. Many of the posts studied made references to social media being as addictive as cigarettes and drugs. The once enticing possibility of being constantly connected to one another is finally taking its toll on some individuals.
Getting back to basics is what many are after. A time when people were not constantly looking at a screen. Older generations have voiced their concern for the younger generation’s ability to communicate face to face. Give it a few more years for this “pushback” to really take hold. This idea may subconsciously encourage society to look for ways to balance their virtual and real worlds. David Levy, an iSchool professor, has written a book called “Mindful Tech: How to Bring Balance to Our Digital Lives” with this very goal in mind.
It is important for us as a society to find balance, not just with technology but with everything in life. Too much of a good thing can be damaging, as can too much of a bad thing. That being said, it is incredible what the Internet has done for our world. We have so much access to information. We sometimes forget how incredibly lucky we are for being part of a generation that can do such amazing things. However, we cannot ignore our inherent nature as human beings for face to face interaction. These have been and will continue to be important social skills to have. Step away from the screen and enjoy what is around you.