How Much Eye Contact Is Too Much

It’s a well-proven fact we humans can be addicted to just about anything; which makes technology no exception. All I have to do is look around anytime, anywhere, to see someone engaged in an important conversation about details which just couldn’t wait.

There is actually growing concern among psychological experts regarding people with iPhones and other smartphones displaying behavior which shows they would rather interact with their phone than other human beings.

This is not just an issue for the younger generation. With all the bells and whistles the iPhone has, it’s no surprise so many are attached. In today’s world people use their phone for such daily tasks as shopping, banking and more.

As I mentioned, our teens are not the only ones facing these issues. More than one-third of adults in the U.S. own a smartphone and according to the Pew Research Center, two-thirds of them sleep with it directly next to their bed.

People feed this smartphone addiction in many ways, such as paying for higher data plans which they sometimes can’t really afford. According to J.D. Power and Associates, the average smartphone user spends in excess of $100 per month for their wireless access. This is higher than an average electricity bill in the U.S.

If you are an iPhone or smartphone user, here are some questions you might want to ask yourself. Does your phone know more about you than your spouse, parents, friends or other important people in your life? Have you ever misplaced or lost your phone only to end up in a panic due to separation anxiety? Does your phone have a name? Do you dress your phone up in various cases, sleeves and charms to make it look good? Or do you ever pick up your phone and start doing something just to avoid eye contact or conversation with others?

Be honest now. If you answered yes to any of these questions, you may be part of this growing addictive phenomenon.

Many people will even hurry out, just to wait in line on release day of the next latest and greatest anticipated product on the market. This in itself, is an experience which caters to the addiction.

Is it possible psychologists are just over-analyzing all of this and looking for another something to blame for irresponsible behavior in our society? Is smartphone use just another sign of the changing times? Do you have your own personal line drawn somewhere when it comes to your smartphone?

I can hardly talk about addiction to our phones without mentioning Facebook. It seems as though Facebook has taken over the world. Everyone from eager-to-fit-in tweens to educated business people to intrigued grandparents has jumped on the Facebook bandwagon. Perhaps we do this because everyone else has a Facebook account so why not?

There are no statistics on Facebook addiction, as it isn’t an actual medical diagnosis. I’ll refer to it as Facebook fever. However, according to a CNN Health report, therapists report seeing more and more people who have crossed the line from social networking to social dysfunction. In the report, Paula Pile, a marriage and family therapist in Greensboro, North Carolina says “It’s turned into a compulsion, a compulsion to dissociate from your real world and go live in the Facebook world.” Do you know anyone who fits this description? I think I do.

Pile and other therapists interviewed were quick to say Facebook itself isn’t the problem and the vast majority of Facebook users probably function just fine.

Pile reported problems arise when users ignore family and work obligations because they find the Facebook world a more enjoyable place to spend time than the real world.

I believe a significant part of the attraction of Facebook and other social media is the promise of connection with others. We humans are very social creatures; and we need relationships in order to flourish. For many however, social media does not fulfill the promise of connection. That promise is best fulfilled in face-to-face conversations and relationships, rather than collecting Facebook friendships with strangers.

Like most things, social media has good and bad features. It’s up to us to make the best of them while minimizing their negative effects on our lives.

“It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity.” — Albert Einstein.

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