Dr. David Greenfield
Source: Dr. David Greenfield

We as a society have not as of yet decided how to deal with the incursion of portable digital technologies into our everyday public life. We are only beginning to address the intrusion these devices create in public places and spaces, and we are just starting to develop new social norms on how and when we use them. The problem with all these portable technologies is that the freedom and opportunity they afford to us in unfettered access, creates the public statement that: “Where I am and what I am doing now is not where I actually am or want to be." A rather odd feeling is communicated indirectly when we are in a public space, but connected elsewhere. I believe this unconsciously violates psychobiological safety and survival mechanisms and produces a feeling of ill-at-ease when around people in the public electronic netherworld (e.g., we cannot fully be prepared and safe if we can’t really be clear what someone is dong in a public space). These technologies shift time and space and in so doing covey a rather mixed message to our real-time social world...that is “I am here, but not really” so we are left with a world of electronic phantoms--partly in and partly out of the social fabric of daily life.

I believe the time and space shifting from digital technology contributes to not living in the here and now, thus furthering a high-tech, high-stress lifestyle. The hypervigilant, always-on state of arousal impacts our Dopamine receptors leaving us feeling depleted. One way to manage this stress is to take control of the unpredictable and variable (hence like an addictive slot machine) intrusion of beeps and buzzes of incoming messages by turning our phones completely off and taking some time to manage our technology instead of letting it manage us.

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