As part of the iconic generation Z, I can admit that I spend way too much time on my phone, just like everyone else. In quarantine, the number of hours has tripled. Instead of using just one device, I am sitting before my laptop now, typing away on my phone.
I can’t even seem to recall the last time I could read a book in one go. A few days ago I tried – just for the sake of the feeling.
I couldn’t focus on it. The lines were way too long, the letters were too big, the exact opposite of what I’m used to. After 2 chapters of my favourite fiction novel, I started to fiddle with my phone screen. In theory, I was aware I had no new messages. Just in case, I checked my G-mail, my chats, Twitter, even Wechat – being fully aware of the fact that it’s the middle of the night in China, there’s no way anyone had messaged me.
Every morning, as I listen to the news on Youtube over my breakfast, I scroll on Tiktok, simultaneously chatting and finishing my Maths homework.
With my phone in one hand, eyes glued to the screen, my other tries to locate – guess what – the phone.
I am concerned about myself, about this generation that grew up with a new limb that feeds off of our attention. A machine that controls itself, and slowly learns to manipulate our brains, exploiting the exact thing that made humanity come so far: our need for social connections.
And luckily, I’m not the only one who’s worried for Gen Z.
The Social Dilemma is a perfect documentary of what our current world looks like – where our attention, our time is sold by the seconds. Former employees of the biggest tech corporations speak up to warn us about this problem that has gone unacknowledged for too long.
‘We have created the world in which online connection has become primary, especially for younger generations’
No one is working on making these apps safer, less addictive. No psychologists, no studies could stop this freefall – and it’s ruining our lives, even before we reach adulthood. Our memory, our brains are wired differently, and by the time we realized it, it was clear we had already lost control.
We grew up in the age of misinformation, unhealthy coping mechanisms, needless political debates, suicidal jokes, fake news and propaganda. We can’t trust what we see, hear or think. The onslaught of information is so tremendous, there’s barely anything we would remember after five minutes. This state of barely-there multitasking is getting frighteningly close to complete unconsciousness.
It’s like we don’t even have a choice anymore.
Even so, I would like to ask everyone who happened to read this far, to put down your phones for 90 minutes, go on Netflix and watch The Social Dilemma.
I guarantee that while this experience will not stop the world around us, the newly acquired knowledge will fundamentally change the viewers’ understanding of social media as it is today.
Knowledge is power – one that could protect us before we eradicate ourselves completely.