Rheingold’s chapter on attention in Net Smart: How to Thrive Online was fascinating to read, mainly because I was acutely aware of my own attention the entire time. Most of the time that I read from a text, I take notes on key points and definitions, while noting page numbers I want to remember.
This chapter was different. When I look at my notes, they’re peppered with my own thoughts about the reading. This is mostly because I was so intrigued by my own attention. This chapter brought up many important points that I was struggling with. The one that is most difficult for me is the potential to be addicted to social media and technology.
I’m going to get real here, this is a problem for me. I constantly have my phone on me. Constantly. I wake up and check my phone for notifications and news. I shower, then check my phone to make sure I didn’t miss anything. I check it at red lights on my way to work. I take my phone for pleasant walks throughout the school as I make copies in the morning or go to meetings. I teach with my phone next to my left hand and wake up the screen every transition time in my classroom to make sure I haven’t missed anything important. I catch up on messages during lunch. I catch up on messages after school. I check my phone at red lights on the way home. I use my phone consistently throughout the evening when I’m not actively engaging in conversation with my husband. I use my phone in bed. I sleep with it plugged in on my nightstand.
What am I checking for? What am I waiting for? Why have my habits developed like this?
This chapter was so poignant for me, mostly because it’s something I struggle with and something that has been pointed out to me from coworkers and friends. So then it leads to the question, is it addiction or just compulsion? Is it beyond the natural tendency to interact with other people? Is it beyond staying informed? Is it beyond “healthy use”?
One point in this chapter that resonated with me was the “secondhand smoke” effect of technology. What are my students seeing and thinking when they see my phone on my desk all day? Is this going to impact their own technology dependence?
This text is going to bring about some serious self-reflection for me. How much is too much, and what can I do to work on my own mindfulness when it comes to technology use?