We live in a world marked by extremism.
At the time of our grandparents, people used to have two maybe three pairs of shoes in their closets. Back in 2013, according to the American Apparel and Footwear Association, Americans bought almost eight pairs of shoes that year. The average American man in 2017 owns 12 pairs of shoes. The average American woman owns 27. Americans on average own 19 pairs of shoes these days. That’s a lot!
When we were young, a birthday party would maybe cost parents $150 with presents included. According to a recent consumer survey, parents now spend on average $450 on their kids’ birthday parties without calculating in the $250 they spend on presents. It isn’t uncommon for families to spend at least $500 on their children’s birthday celebrations in 2017.
According to BBC, kids today spend on average 6 1/2 hours of screen time a day, which is a drastic change from the three hours they used to spend in front of computerized devices back in 1995. We have also seen a widespread adoption of multi-screening practices which has influenced the youth to demand connectivity! Will children own a virtual reality device in the near future? I bet they will own two maybe three of these pieces of hardware, if not more.
Why are things so extreme today? It is difficult to isolate one single reason for why this is all happening. I think I have the answer for why so many kids (and parents) spend hours on end on computerized devices in Cleveland, Tennessee or Ohio, and anywhere in between the states of New York and New Delhi. Folks are exhausting themselves for the sake of technology because when humans interact with multiple computerized devices on a daily basis, they become more like a “computer” without realizing.
Computer use is maybe conditioning us to be more extreme. We see evidence of the former in how we live our lives in relation to the actual traits of modern computer technology. Computers, even when they are on stand-by mode, are technically active in the background because computer processes have to be operational for the computer to be on stand-by. We seem to have inherited some of these computer traits by being so ingrained with them.
It isn’t uncommon for a number of us to work 50 sometimes 60 hours a week, not from 9 to 5 but from 9 to forever. Let’s not forget that answering emails at 9:45 p.m. and waking up at 3 a.m. to solve a problem that we couldn’t solve the night before is an extreme measure. Our computer-use behaviors today are quite extreme and some might even categorize them as borderline irresponsible. The human brain was not made to operate in constant information overload mode, yet we are challenging our mental capacity limits by being in front of computer screens for several hours a day.
Remember: Your family members and friends only have one brain. Overuse of technology is an epidemic. It’s alive and well and is everywhere. Adults are also experiencing the same extreme side effects that kids exhibit, due to the extreme interactions with computerized devices, as well. There was a time when extreme levels of computer use was a “kid” thing. It isn’t anymore. The vast majority of us are now on our computers for too long. We need to break from this habit.
The good news is that we can break free from technology once in a while. My recommendations for temporary breaking from computer use extremism is the following: Join a local church and volunteer your time every week for the Lord.
If you like to sing, join a community choir or theatre. If your talent is labor, donate some of your time to a nonprofit to help with a remodeling or landscaping project. If you like thinking, take a non-credit class in a local college to meet new friends. Read a book, go for a walk, pray!
In the end, you will thank the good God for living a life of moderation. It makes all the difference.
(About the writer: Dr. Luis C. Almeida is an associate professor of communication at Lee University and TEDx speaker. He has been nationally featured for his work in leadership and technology by the Wall Street Journal, ABC-Jackson, TEDxPhoenixville, Pittsburgh Tribune Review, Voice of America and the Indiana Gazette. Internationally, Dr. “A” has been featured in several outlets, including the prestigious O Globo newspaper and Radio CBN. He is the author of the book “Becoming a Brand: The Rise of Technomoderation,” and a devoted Christian. He can be reached via his website at luiscalmeida.info.)