I teach a college course called Relaxation Techniques. One of the topics we cover is looking at how technology impacts our health and well-being. Working with 200 students each year, here is the short list of what I consistently hear, each and every semester:
Of the way their cell phones serve as a “lifeline,” and that without them they would be lost, afraid and disconnected.
Of the collective agreement to turn a blind eye to how people lie online.
Of the headaches, neck strain, insomnia and shoulder pain they experience when in front of their screens.
Of a looming feeling that maybe their devices will cause cancer, but being unable to let go of them nontheless.
Of the uneasy feeling that part of them is missing without their phones.
Of the overwhelm when their phone is about to lose its charge.
Of the exhaustion they regularly feel because instead of going to sleep they get caught up in a Netflex binge, or get lost checking their social media sites.
Of the sadness and disappointment they feel when a friend is more interested in their device than them.
Of the feeling that whoever they are with, they are always with someone else.
Of the addiction they see in others and experience within themselves.
Of the despair that only comes late at night thinking that maybe the days and months logged gaming might not be so cool after all.
Of the realization that there is always, always an excuse to have their cell phone out, even though it is getting in the way of school work, intimacy, peace of mind or sleep.
Of the lack of satisfying connection in their relationships despite their ability to get in touch with anyone at any time.
Of real life, in-person conversations being awkward, thinking that maybe that is why people say this generation has deteriorated social skills.
Of the deep and pervasive fear to be alone with themselves.
Of the time they spend stressing over a single letter or punctuation mark, fearful of how it will be received.
Of being constantly afraid that something will happen to them or someone they know, but that as long as they are with a cell phone they will be insulated from that harm somehow.
Of the fear to call as opposed to text because you never know what someone might say.
Of the terror that perhaps their lives are not meaningful without someone else looking at what they have posted, tweeted, or snapchatted.
And of the sense that something is not working, but feeling that this is just how it is now.
They believe this is how it is now because they do not have a before. They believe this is how it is because this is what we have taught them. They believe this is how it is because this is what we as the grown-ups in their lives have allowed to occur.