The challenges of an ‘always on’ environment
Living in a hyper-connected world is both a blessing and a curse. Considering that technology is everywhere, and just one click of a button can plug us to the internet -- there is still a need to practice self-control when going online.
The latest Nielsen Philippines study shows that the desire for constant connectivity is highest among locals in Southeast Asia -- with Filipinos ranking highest worldwide, at 94%.
An ‘always on’ environment is beneficial for a number of reason: It allows us to work anytime, and anywhere -- may it be on the road, on the street, inside a coffee shop, or even at home; we are able to obtain instant access to information -- by typing our queries through search engines, or through crowd sourcing solutions from our friends/followers on social media; and we can stay connected with our loved ones here and abroad, thanks to messaging apps and social media.
But constant connectivity also has its downsides. And here are some of them:
- We become idle, less productive
Excessive use of the internet to chat with friends, browse social media, watch movies, or play games may result in a sedentary lifestyle that puts us at risk for certain illnesses.
Being constantly online may also affect our work. Sometimes, we may just be meaning to ‘check’, say our timeline on Facebook, or read messages, but before we know it, we’ve been on for hours already -- losing precious time that could have been used for more meaningful work.
- Rampant cyber-bullying, depression
Kids today may find it difficult to dissociate themselves from their online reputation, especially on social media. Some youngsters fall victim to cyber-bullying and some become bullies themselves, blanketed by the false sense of security and anonymity that the internet brings.
Too much use of social media may also lead people to compare their lives with others, and further result in chronic envy or unhappiness.
- Struggle with instant gratification
Everything is within reach. Because of this, we’re used to getting the things we need or want in a snap. This attitude translates to all other aspects of our lives, such that when we encounter a situation that entails us to dedicate time and hard work, we likely become impatient, and give up easily.
- Stunted growth in social skills
Constantly being plugged in may affect social skills, especially of the youth today. Those who heavily rely on internet messaging and social media for communication, for instance, may find it difficult to carry face-to-face conversations.
- Difficulty to focus
When online, we find it hard to ignore alerts that pop up on our device’s screen. So we immediately check these notifications even while in the middle of doing something important -- like, taking part in a meeting, or writing an article.
- Growing Internet addiction
Admit it, we consider the Internet as a fundamental human resource, much like air, water, and food. It becomes a problem, though, when we get addicted to the Internet, so much so that we lose sleep, miss our meals, etc.
To ease the ill-effects of being ‘always’ on,’ take some time to do a digital detox. If not at work (or if it’s a weekend) learn to stay away from gadgets, and spend time instead with family and friends. Try to capture memories through the senses, and see how much more satisfying it is than viewing other people’s stories on social media, or playing a virtual game with some other player, remotely.
Remember that being ‘always on’ is a choice. We hold the power to decide, set boundaries, and use the Internet to our advantage.
Visit http://ipc.ph/en/ to discover ways in using the internet productively.