We all cling to our smartphones and tablets like prized possessions, and the first words out of our mouths when visiting new places is “What’s your WiFi password?”
While technological innovation is impressive and beneficial, to be sure, it is also a huge contributor to the epic amount of time you (and I) waste every day. From the inevitable distraction spiral of YouTube videos and Reddit, to the inevitable learned laziness we are slowly developing as a result of increased efficiency, there are a shit-ton of ways that our beloved gadgets are responsible for our daily time-suck.
And yes, I am fully aware that, having typed this on the computer, I am a distinct part of the problem. The irony is not lost on me.
1. The Never-Ending “Ding” Phenomenon
This morning alone, I received three different alert sounds and twelve notifications from two different devices within the frame of five minutes. Were any of these notifications necessary? Perhaps a grand total of half of them (a few were definitely from a group chat where people were discussing The West Wing, a show that ended a decade ago). But, we as millennials have developed an almost Pavlovian response to the sounds of our app notifications or Slack alerts, and will divert our attention almost immediately, regardless of the importance of the message.
2. The “Trending Video” Black Hole
It’s happened to all of us. You started out by simply watching a video of a pug puppy frolicking through the grass. This somehow led to a barrage of lip-synching videos, which led to the video of a woman singing on a toilet, which led to a video playlist of children falling down (my personal comedy Kryptonite), which led to … oh my God, it’s midnight?? How long have you been spiraling down this video hole? What kind of monster are you?! YouTube is a fanciful distraction, but it can also be a tempting mistress who will ultimately lead you to your (productivity) downfall.
But hey, it’s not a total loss. At least you saw some puppies.
3. The Intense Amounts Of FOMO
Improved technology should, in theory, cause us to become more advanced and complex human beings. Instead, it has turned us into insecure basket-cases who can’t believe So-And-So had a party and didn’t invite us, or feel jealous of how good What’s-Her-Face looks when she uses the Valencia filter. Rather than seeing the possibilities of what we could do, all we see is is all the shit we didn’t do — which causes us to obsess over this minutiae, as opposed to making any sort of productive steps.
4. Steadily-Increasing Laziness
Technology is great! It makes accomplishing daily tasks so much easier! The only problem is, we’ve all become so accustomed to easy tasks that we’re less inclined to anything that requires actual effort. While making things easier on ourselves is a logical step, we slowly come to expect only easily-accomplished checkpoints in our daily routines. So, basically: becoming more efficient is kind of training us to be lazy.
Don’t believe me? Try typing on your phone without autocorrect, and see if you end up with a remotely coherent sentence.
5. The Addictiveness of Internet-Induced Rage
Perhaps it’s yet another engagement announcement. Perhaps it’s a political rant that makes you shriek aloud, “I CANNOT.” Or, perhaps it’s just the one millionth uploaded album which is full of pictures of your friend’s new baby. These posts and comments cause us all to experience excessive frustration and annoyance — yet we’re weirdly addicted to becoming infuriated by this online stimuli. It’s like watching a car wreck, and we can’t help but soak up the strange satisfaction and superiority we get from reading these posts.
Meanwhile, that email we were supposed to send hours ago is still in “Drafts.”
6. The Blessing/Curse Of Infinite Choices
Your smartphone/laptop/television all signify one very important thing: OPTIONS. We’re all given a multitude of choices when it comes to what we can watch, when we can watch it, what we can read, which game we can play, whom we can talk to … and with all of these possibilities, it’s almost a wonder that we’re ever able to step outside and DO anything. The options can become dizzying, and can trap us in a web of laziness and unproductiveness. Sure, you have the ability to do whatever you choose — but the process of deciding can wind up sucking the majority of your time away.
7. Dear God, The Porn
I’m not speaking from personal experience (SHUTUP, I’M NOT), but the constant possibility of nakedness at our fingertips (“Nakedness At Our Fingertips” is my new soft rock jam, incidentally) can make it difficult to get work done outside of a professional environment. I’m not saying that the internet is exclusively for porn — but I’m not NOT saying it, either.