Digital Dependence: Our Ridiculous Addiction?

Wired Wednesdays | Marcy Axness, PhD | Parenting for Peace

This whole issue of how entranced and attached we are to our smartphones — and to the social media they link us to — is soooo challenging and touchy, isn’t it? I think because at some level we suspect that, even though the technology that has put them in our hands is extraordinarily brilliant, far from being a magnificent obsession, it’s a ridiculous addiction.

We don’t usually think in terms of ridiculous addictions. Addiction is serious. Addiction is complex. And boy is this addiction a tough one to detangle and get much of handle on.

We don’t usually think of addiction and humor going together. But in this case I think that sometimes humor can be a wonderful mirror in which we can begin to let our guard down and let some recognition in. As the saying goes, “More truth is said in jest.” Can humor help us recognize our ridiculous addiction?

Here are two recent amusing mirrors. The first are scenes from a recent episode of Grey’s Anatomy

Wired Wednesdays | Marcy Axness, PhD | Parenting for Peace

One could argue that this is generational, which to some extent is true. The students portrayed in this instance are so-called digital natives, and it is second nature to them to use devices as their “pen and paper.” Or — a bit more troubling — as their portable short-term memory.

What would medical students of former generations have been doing in the same situation? Especially in the dissection lab, I wonder? Much like doctors (at least used to) do, maybe they would “chart their notes” afterward — after being completely present in the situation in order to absorb everything as fully as possible.

Indeed, this is one of the concerns about digital dependence: the erosion of one’s capacity to attend, to be fully present in the moment. Instead, attention is split between real-time events and the digital capture (and often, later social media posting) of those events.

The above humorous mirror of our ridiculous addiction is from a show that is meant to portray something close to the reality of what one might witness in a teaching hospital. By contrast, this second humorous mirror is meant as satire: an exaggerated portrayal designed to expose “people’s stupidity or vices, particularly in the context of contemporary politics and other topical issues.” (Dictionary def)

Perhaps the filmmaker’s intention was purely humorous, a la SNL. But I’m guessing we cannot watch without asking ourselves the question, Just how exaggerated IS this?? Has this put its funny finger right on the painful spot of our ridiculous addiction?

Wired Wednesdays | Marcy Axness, PhD | Parenting for Peace

Alrighty, then… I’ll just leave it at that for now!

Whether you’re curious, captivated or concerned about our digital dependence and device devotion, join me on (most) Wednesdays so we can explore it together. (Sign up here if you want to be sure not to miss anything!) ….. …..

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