One of the out of session discussions at the Georgia Baha’i School yesterday morning was on how bad online media are for us. (I’ve boiled down what was described to neurotransmitters.)
- Dopamine: Anticipation with each click will lead to a reward leads to addiction-like behaviors.
- Oxytocin: Lack of touch leads to feeling lonely.
For those of us seeking to feel connected, online media provides a false sense of connectedness. We feel more connected, but this is an illusion. We need the oxytocin for a true connectedness which we don’t get enough through online media. The best use of online social media is to discover the connections necessary for quality face-to-face time with people so we can get what we need. I’d say most of my current face-to-face arose from being active online.
The problem is when our interactions devolve to only being through this. Lately I’ve been thinking I consume too much media which distracts me from trying to be around people. With 592 people on my Facebook friends list, I’m probably reading too many Facebook status updates, apps, etc. Between my RSS readers (yeah, plural), I have 277 subscriptions with at the moment around 1,600 items marked for me to read. With 76 TiVo subscriptions, I’m probably watching too much television. I feel so constantly behind with these technologies I feel like I need to work through them which means I’m spending less time with people.
This isn’t really new for me. My bad habit is to invest myself too much in media by not culling enough of the subscriptions. I’m also hesitant to assert myself in other people’s lives. Some call it reticent: “reluctant to draw attention to yourself”. I’m the person who is likely found hanging around the periphery of a party. This recipe for disaster is why my resolutions usually have something about participating more in social activities. Without such goals, my only social interactions would be through work.