All Things Digital

Monday 16, November 2015

The Psychology of Technology


Our Obsession With The Virtual Environment…. xoxo


I have a distant memory of spending a journey on public transport drawing in my journal, listening to Radiohead on my Discman staring deep through a glazed window imagining I was in a 50 frames per second film clip as the sun set.


And then Instagram entered my life.


Along with Facebook messenger, Snapchat, Pinterest and all the other apps I downloaded for the same inane reason – I’ve felt my digital device was 100% necessary to my everyday existence. I admit I’ve now missed my bus stop more than once.                                                                                                                            

I’m sure like me you’ve been forced out of this virtual immersion at some point and into an epiphany when your remaining 1% of battery has abruptly melted into a blank screen.


Deeply disappointed, you peel your sweaty hand from your phone and slowly begin to take in your physical environment. What becomes quickly apparent is that literally everyone is still virtually immersed, disconnected from the present, yet incredibly connected all at the same time.


It’s a truly dichotomous world we’re living in.


OMG Do You Remember When You Had To Delete Messages? LOL!   


Interpersonal communication is still the most important way in which we communicate. It is integral to healthcare, personal selling and of course human relationships. However is the significance of face-to-face contact facing a steady decline?


In 2010, 1 in every 3 teenagers in the US sent more than 100 texts per day, which equated to over 3,000 texts per month.  


Here’s something even more alarming… “Ten per cent of people under the age of 25 don’t see anything wrong with texting during sex,” indicating that new communication methods are dramatically challenging traditional notions of connectivity.  


F.O.M.O (ummm its means fear of missing out….)   


The Protocol School of Washington teaches social manners to corporate and government clients. Director Pamela Eyring has recognised four stages – confusion, discomfort, irritation, and, finally outrage in what she identifies as “Blackberry abandonment”, “the feeling a person suffers when trying to connect with devotees of such electronic gadgets”. Eyring maintains that personal and business relationships rely on making others feel valued and our devices can put these important relationships at risk. She has dubbed our iPhone obsession as “cel-fishness.” 


For Eyring the term relates not only to gadget etiquette and lack of consideration, but to the most important issue, connection


 “While our electronic gadgetry is keeping us more connected in some ways, it is a shallow connection – not the deep emotional engagement needed for any kind of meaningful relationship. Why? Because texting and e-mails are set up for volumes, velocity, and multitasking – that is, the splitting of attention.”


“Our gadgets therefore create an illusion of connection. The danger, though, is that they also set up a new way of relating in which we are continually in touch – but emotionally detached.”    


Like the couple I couldn’t help but notice at the beach last weekend that spent 3 hours taking selfies with the notorious selfie stick. By the time the shoot had wrapped up the sun had retired for the day. Those moments had passed. But they got the photo right? Is a lasting memory now more important than the one in our minds or the moment we seek to experience?


According to recent statistics selfies now account for more deaths than shark attacks.


Selfies have already accounted for 11 deaths this year, by comparison an average of six people a year have died from shark attacks from the decade to 2014. 


With the aforementioned aside I still remain an avid supporter of the incredible benefits technology brings to society. However, I also find myself concerned about it’s side effects. Equally, research psychologist and educator, Dr Larry Rosen, explores the question – “What will happen to our relationship with the world and “the “real” people who inhabit it?” He says he’s remaining optimistic.



Stay tuned for our next post, which investigates where our beloved gadgets go after we give them the flick.  

Please share your comments and insights below!  



The Psychology of Technology

This week OnQue investigates the pros and cons of our obsession with Virtual Environments.