Take a moment and look at the people around you in a social setting or in a classroom. Are they on their phones? Glancing on our phones has become a daily routine, a tradition. Are you one of those people? I used to be. I never realized the impact a phone has on a person’s social life until I started teaching and observing. I observed my students looking at their phones rather than talking with the people next to them. I observed them transferring from face-to-face communication to face-to-screen communication. That, however, does not happen just in a classroom. It happens all around us. We are so immersed in technology that we forget how to communicate with others. Gao, Li, Zhu, Liu and Liu (2016) found that people with a higher level of anxiety text more, take more pictures, and use social media more, while those with a low level of anxiety take more calls, use healthy applications more frequently, and use social media less. Social network sites are literally at our fingers. When I see people on their phones, it does not necessarily mean they are texting. It can also mean they are on their social media looking at puppy videos, cats videos, memes, and/or posts by other people. Getting immersed in social media can develop higher anxiety levels in our community. By not allowing ourselves to get submerged in the real world, we are allowing ourselves to become disconnected from those around us. This will impact us in the professional world.
Imagine going on a date with someone you are really interested in. How would you feel if he/she will be on his/her phone most of the time when you are trying to find out more about them? Now imagine going to an interview. How would you feel if the interviewer would look at his/her phone the whole time instead of listening to you? How would that make you feel? Will you consider them being rude? Some of those people might have anxiety amplified by their use of smartphones. However, when they are trying to have that one-on-one conversation, some might work against that anxiety to create a connection.
Our anxiety in communicating is definitely amplified by the use of electronics and social media. Look at the dating world. Instead of making a connection face-to-face, people use apps such as Tinder and Bumble. Funny thing is, eventually, they still have to make that personal connection. I can only look in the future and think of apps being created where you swipe right and left to get a job. What will be next? Interviewing people with right and left? Next time, fight against your anxiety. Put your phone down, look at the person next to you and say hi. While using electronics and social media is a good way to distract yourself from daily life stress, it should not amplify a person’s anxiety level.
– Oana Nae
Gao, Y., Li, A., Zhu, T., Liu, X., & Liu, X. (2016). How smartphone usage correlates with social anxiety and loneliness. Peerj, 4, e2197. doi:10.7717/peerj.2197