A mother of a 3 year old disciplined her son. So he threw a temper tantrum. She thought it was so funny the she disciplined him again just so she could video it. After uploading it on Instagram she thought, “What did I just do? I re-disciplined my child just to get a video.” We know some of us are obsessive about posting photos and checking our phones. But such obsession can lead to consequences. A study entitled “Society’s New Addiction: Getting a “Like” over Having a Life” reveals that people who become more obsessed with posting photos or checking their phone are finding less and less enjoyment in life.
The authors, Joseph Grenny and David Maxfield of Vital Smarts write “more and more of us are losing connection with our lives in order to earn “likes” and social media praise. We have, in a sense, turned into social media “trophy hunters.” According to an online study of over 1600 people, 58 percent say posting that perfect picture has prevented them from enjoying life experiences. Ultimately, the study reveals this obsession with social media trophy hunting isn’t just distracting – it’s dictating lives.
Nearly 3 out of 4 admitted to being rude or disconnected from others because they’re more focused on their phone than the other person. 91 percent have seen a tourist miss enjoyment of the moment trying to get it on social media – and many acknowledge doing the same thing themselves. 79% have seen a parent undermine their own experience in a child’s life in an effort to capture the perfect post. 14% risked their personal safety to try and get a good posting.
Many cited decreased enjoyment and increased guilt due to not spending time listening to or being present with people they care about. One mother admitted “while trying to capture and post my daughter’s dance event, I completely missed it. She asked me, ‘Did you see me?’ I really didn’t and it was awful.” Some have engaged in reckless behavior while driving. One answered “I was severely disappointed with myself every time I couldn’t ignore the urge to pick up the phone in the car. Thank goodness nothing bad happened.” People also experienced less enjoyment because of embarrassing moments taking selfies and posting something online they later regretted.
Joseph Grenny writes “Our key finding is that we enjoy important life moments less when we’re focused on capturing them rather than experiencing them. “’Likes’ are a low-effort way to produce a counterfeit feeling of social well-being that takes more effort to achieve in the real world. This study warns us that we are beginning to value virtual pleasure hits more than authentic happiness.” David Maxfield adds “If our attention is on an invisible audience rather than the present moment, we are disconnected from the real world. Our devices are beginning to control our attention and motivations in ways we may not even realize.”
Now some of us might be tempted to nod our heads smugly and say “I told you so” to some person looking at their phone right now. But an obsession with gaining the approval or praise of other people is nothing new. It’s been going on since time began. It happens so frequently and sometimes subtly that we might not even notice we’re doing it. So we speak a bit louder to ensure our voice is heard. We dress a certain way in the hopes that certain someone might notice. We put on a little more perfume or cologne to gain attention. We step forward to be noticed. We do something in a very public place or way to ensure that we’re seen. Think for a moment of how much of your life is taken up preparing for how other people to see you or hear about you.