A study conducted last year found that Irish consumers check their phones an average of 57 times a day. Naomh McElhatton, Director of Digital Education Consultancy company Smart NI, has branded the habit “the new crack cocaine”. She joined Sean O’Rourke to discuss.
Naomh theorises that social media is becoming more addictive because the number of people using it is increasing. As an example, there are now 2 billion registered Facebook users.
“There’s something going on there that we get a great kick out of…I think for us as humans it’s that need for affirmation constantly. It’s that need for that instant gratification, that ‘Oh, you look lovely’, ‘Oh, look at you at your holiday’, ‘Oh, don’t you have a wonderful life’ and I think over the last little while it’s just got all a bit ridiculous. “
Sean asked about the tendency to put your best foot forward online, showcasing the positive things happening in your life. Naomh thinks the lines are becoming “blurred” and our photos more narcissistic.
“What is real life and what is the virtual life?… You’ve heard of this fake news and I think that’s where the problem lies, is that people are deluded now. And there’s this big massive wave of narcissism that’s coming in too. The selfie…the filters. And I think that’s where the health consequences are starting to show with the mental health issues.”
Our reliance on our smartphones is also affecting our relationships, Naomh says.
“We fall in love with old flames or we reconnect or connect with somebody that’s much more attractive across the online world than our partners in the real world.”
The solution? Naomh has been trialling an idea with some friends over lunch.
“There’s four of us and we were looking at the phones. I was like, ‘Right guys, we’re out for lunch. Everybody, phone in the middle of the table. First person who lifts the phone pays the bill. Nobody lifted it!”
Listen back to the full interview on Today with Sean O’Rourke here.
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