Me, My Screen and My Screen.

Did you know that Facebook bought Instagram today for $1 billion?

So I knew that if I wanted to keep up my blogging momentum I had to find a topic. Stat. Lo and behold, before the end of the day, life gave me three topics to blog about! They were:

  • The “Go make a life, not a living” quote that popped up on my Instagram feed courtesy of @daniellesmyname.
  • The Skinnygirl Spirits article that made me do a double-take.
  • The small blurb in the Red Eye discussing how 86 percent of Americans use their smart-phones while watching TV.

I’d try and make you guess which one I extrapolate on below but to save you time, I’ll just give you the reasons why I didn’t choose the first two options: that quote is way too deep for me right now (but not off the table for a later post) and I don’t want to give Bethenny Frankel any more publicity than she already has. With that, let’s talk about how our brains are rotting away because of too much screen time.

“You probably do it now without event thinking about it, and that makes you part of the 86 percent. That’s the percentage of smart-phone owners in the US who are split-screening – using the device while watching TV – at least once a month, according to Nielsen.” 

Some might find this surprising but as someone who does it ALL THE TIME, I’m completely unfazed and consider it normal for me to multi-task while I’m watching TV. In fact, the only time I’m not on one screen while watching another is when I’m at the movies and I shut my phone off completely a.k.a. I turn it on vibrate because I can’t imagine not being connected to the world. I credit this behavior to two things that I think also permeate pop culture and my generation:

  • We have a hard time staying focused: My life moves by at an incredible speed. I’m constantly doing something and the only time my brain isn’t in sensory overload is when I’m sleeping, and even that is debatable. It’s said that people see/hear up to 5,000 advertising messages a day, so how can we not be flitting from one screen to another? It’s because of this constant demand for my attention that the moment there is a slow scene during a movie or an uninteresting TV segment that I immediately grab my phone or computer. “I can totally be doing something else right now and watching TV at the same time. I’m getting more done that way,” I tell myself. It’s because of the need to not be bored that I multi-task or, in this instance, “multi-entertain” myself.
  • We need to be in-the-know all the time: There’s a certain satisfaction with being the first to know something. If you’re in on a secret before anyone else, you get the pleasure of seeing the reaction on their face, the surprise in their voice and the domino effect of them telling their own acquaintances. The way my generation does this is through social media and the only way we access that forum is through screens. Marketers are fully aware of this too, which is why you’re slowly seeing hashtags used during TV shows to aggregate the online conversation and rally a community around a particular cause or outlet. I’m not complaining. In fact, I’m guilty of using every single one of the hashtags and taking to Twitter immediately to see what the general reaction to a scene is. And while this forces me to split my attention, I’m perfectly OK doing it for the connectedness and in-the-know feeling I get when I do.

It’s possible that this behavior is slowly screwing with my brain, causing me to develop cancer or simply training me to do multiple things at once. Either way, I enjoy the feeling of knowing a lot of small facts and news bites that help me build conversations and get to know people. Yes, you compromise on the depth but you capitalize on the range, which means it’s a balancing act to know when one is needed over the other. It works for some people and it’s catastrophic for others but apparently, 86 percent of smart-phone users agree with me.

What do you think is responsible for the multi-tasking behavior? Do you think it’s detrimental to people or relationships? Do you think I’m completely off-track in my thinking? Discuss in the comments below, while watching TV of course.

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