Karen Riddell J.D.

Friendship, An Observation

Have You Become a Sofalizer?

Something new to worry about - our digital health.

Posted Jun 18, 2018

Source: tomwang/shutterstock

Google and Apple have just rolled out almost identical initiatives promoting digital health and well-being.  This is big. When the companies whose success rely on use of their product voluntarily determine that we are all becoming overly dependent on them to the point of detrimental health consequences, you know the problem has reached epic proportions.

And it has, our phones have become an integral part of how we operate throughout our days. What’s more it is no secret.  We aren’t shy about using our phones no matter where we are, who is around or what we are doing—often to the point of extremely rude behavior. A study just came out that 10% of people even admit to checking their phone during sex!

When asked, many teens quickly confess that they feel addicted to their mobile devices and I imagine most of us would sheepishly concur. If you are feeling concerned about your usage, you may want to take the Smartphone Compulsion Test developed by Dr. David Greenfield, a professor at the Center for Internet and Technology Addiction at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine.  (http://virtual-addiction.com/smartphone-compulsion-test/)

To me, the most important part of this is the effect it is having on our culture: Digital interaction is slowly replacing social interaction. A study eight years ago found that 26% of people were socializing more online than in person. Since then, our tech dependence has grown exponentially so there is no question that this percentage has as well.

Now we are even coining terms for the phenomenon. “Sofalizing” is the activity of using the internet or other electronic devices to socialize with people from home, rather than meeting them IRL.  And “phubbing” is snubbing your partner for your phone. Sadly, phubbing has been termed the new normal. In one study, over 70% reported that phubbing was having a negative effect on their relationship.

So it seems we now have a new reason to thank Apple and Google as they try to get us to put down our phones, to pay closer attention to our partners, to enjoy our sex lives more fully, and to be more present with our family and friends. Lets all try to replace the FOMO social media can create with JOMO (the JOY of missing out) as we untether ourselves from the alluring interwebs and indulge in old fashion face to face relationships.