Apps and social media are stealing our attention. We have become obsessed with likes, retweets, and finding the perfect gif response to post.
We miss the amazing play or moment at the concert because we are updating our Instagram.
We miss the bus because we are enthralled with the latest video on one of our YouTube subscriptions.
We miss our floor on the elevator because we were reading Twitter. We miss the green light because we are checking Facebook.
The CEO of a technology and data company recently shared with me his frustration about one of his senior leaders who appeared to be addicted to Candy Crush. In every spare moment, his director was online and had to be counseled twice in one week. The leader tried to explain it was his form of relaxation but after much questioning, he reluctantly admitted that his workload had fallen behind, he had emails in his inbox that hadn’t been answered for five days, and he was two weeks behind in developing a database for a client. Remember, this is a smart, functioning adult.
Maybe you don’t play Candy Crush but you feel a need to check every notification of a new email, text, tweet, or post on Facebook or LinkedIn, or maybe you have created Pinterest boards to plan your perfectly designed office or maybe you monitor every like you get on Instagram?
Gut check time: How much of your attention is being stolen by apps and social media?
Do we really have to include in our employee policies that people can’t play Candy Crush or check social media at work? Possibly. Some of our obsession is driven by habit and some of it by boredom. And it could be that the voyeuristic interest in other people’s lives is more exciting than whatever work is in front of us.
Regardless, the addiction is real. Technology, social media companies, and app development companies are competing for our attention and intentionally feed our addictions in hopes we will spend more time on their systems, enveloped by their tools. Either way, it demands are decaying our ability to truly connect in a meaningful way with others that is mindful, intentional, and purposeful.
I doubt anyone on their deathbed will say “I wish I’d posted one more tweet or picture.” Instead, I bet they’re likely to say “I wish I’d paid more attention to the people I was with rather than those on social media.”