Soon-to-be defunct band One Direction recently played six sold-out nights at London’s O2 arena. The entire crowd around me were all using their smart devices and all suffered from the same affliction – FOMO – the Fear of Missing Out.
Apart from the unnamed elderly lady, the crowd at the premiere and the audience at the O2 all watched the event by recording it on their own personal small screens and then sharing it with their network. One woman near me was face-timing her best friend so she could also enjoy Harry’s antics while being 70 miles away from the O2.
We all know the statistics about the amount of video uploaded to YouTube each hour. We know the evidence that tells us having video on our website helps the Google search and pushes us up the rankings. But perhaps the picture tells the story in a far more succinct way – we’re addicted to video.
When Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone, new neuro pathways were formed in the human brain. Instead of just being in the moment, we reasoned we could be both in the moment and tell someone about it at the same time. Or, and perhaps worse, experience things by proxy. But with just the phone, we could only use one of our senses. Now we can use two directly – and the video invokes a third, the sense of feeling.
The iPhone 6 is now the world’s most powerful computer; scientist Dr Michio Kaku, author of Physics of the Future: The Inventions that will Transform our Lives says: “Today, your cell phone has more computer power than all of NASA back in 1969, when it placed two astronauts on the moon.” That’s the scientific perspective, but from a sociological perspective, it has even more power.
Our sophisticated phones make it easier and easier to involve more and more people in our world; to show them what a wonderful time we’re having; to show them via our experiences what great people we are. Humans have always had a propensity to show off – now we feel we have to shout ‘look at me’ constantly to prove we matter.
According to Dr. Andrew Przybylski of the University of Essex in a paper published in the journal Computers in Human Behaviour, the need to constantly connect was highest for those who didn’t have their basic psychological needs – feeling engaged, nurtured and acknowledged – met.
Since many of those basic needs are experienced in the workplace, and with a growing number of people now working remotely, there’s a increasing awareness these smart devices are not only accentuating the problem but also at the root of it.
Harry and boys of One Direction stood in front of twenty thousand people – ironically they were the only ones not with smart phones. But from where I was standing, I think they had a good time.