SMARTPHONES HAVE HIJACKED OUR MINDS (PART 1)
By John Oyadougha
Smartphone is something almost everyone can’t do without as it gives us access to the world. There is this constant fear of disconnect from the world each time we are out of internet data or our phone is dead of there is no network to go online, it is feeling of disconnect from a virtual world that has gradually taken over our lives especially as young people. There is also a constant fight for acceptance among young people by their online friends. Beyond our activities online, Tech guys who build the platforms we use such as Facebook did a fantastic job to get us hooked and engaged always appealing to our needs and desires and systematically form habit within us. It is then funny to know that the guys who built these features that’s getting us addicted and glued to our smartphone know the negative effect on us and are themselves taking measures to reduce the effect on themselves.
Justin Rosenstein was the one that created the Facebook “like” feature but apparently, he has blocked his laptop of Snapchat, Reddit and included parental control on his Iphone to prevent him from downloading some apps because he is particularly aware of the allure of Facebook likes which he describes as “bright dings of pseudo-pleasure” that can be as hollow as they are seductive.
These tech guys built awesome platforms that has a lot of psychological effect on people who research shows touch, swipe or tap their phone 2,617 times a day. There is a growing concern that as well as addicting users, technology is contributing towards so-called “Partial continues attention” severely limiting people’s ability to focus and possibly lowering IQ. It is a known fact that the mere presence of smartphone damages cognitive capacity – even when the device is turned off, we are still distracted by it all the time.
The technologies we use have turned into compulsions if not full-fledged addictions. It is the impulse to check a message notification, or the pull to open WhatsApp, visit Youtube, Facebook or Twitter or Snapchat for just a few minutes only to discover you have spent hours online. There are subtle psychological tricks that can be used to make people develop habits by ensuring that the mood boosters such as Facebook likes, Pokes, comments on one’s status come when one is moody and need acceptance. It then becomes imperative to examine some of these features and how they have hijacked out minds.
• Likes and Comment: Facebook started the like feature created by Justin as explained above before other platforms such as Twitter, blogs and others adopted the feature. It all comes to the feeling of acceptance or people acceptance of who you are through what you post by softly pressuring you to tell the world what you are currently thinking about. This in a way tells Facebook your thinking pattern and that can be used to target ads at you or sell your data to advertisers. When we are moody or sad or feel rejected, these likes and comments on our online post help to boost our feeling, increases our level of self-confidence due to the feeling of acceptance by a multitude of friends and this ensures that we are constantly online to monitor who likes our status, when they like and comment on our post which automatically influences us to post more of similar content as we want to keep up that acceptance.
• Swipe Down to Refresh/Automatic Refresh Feature: Have you ever gone online to reply a text from a friend but end up spending the next few hours chatting? Am sure you have had such an experience. The fact that new messages keep coming in automatically pressures you to reply more and the more you reply the more messages that come in and this goes a long way to get us distracted. The swipe down to refresh feature was first created for twitter mobile app by Loren Brichter. He had no intention of getting people addicted, he created this feature because he didn’t know where to put the refresh button.
Let us examine more of these features and how they have formed habit in us and some practical steps to help us counter this addiction in part two of this article.