ABC and Fox News Channel alumnus Jedediah Bila, author of #DoNotDisturb: How I Ghosted My Cell Phone to Take Back My Life, linked the growing ubiquity of social media with “moral degradation” across America. She offered her remarks in a Friday interview with Breitbart News Editor-in-Chief Alex Marlow on SiriusXM’s Breitbart News Daily.
Bila described the genesis of her latest book: “I wrote the book because I was completely addicted to technology, and it was making me lose my mind. We’re in this industry, we feel like we need to be plugged into a news cycle all day long. You feel like if you’re not commenting on the news 24 hours a day, seven days a week, you’re not going to be relevant. You have to be posting on Instagram, answering these trolls every now and then, then you put something out there and somebody comes back and negates it, you feel like you have to fact-check them. I mean, it never ends.”
Bila added, “This was going straight through the night. My workday had no end. I had the phone next to me [in] bed when I was sleeping. I would get up in the middle of the night and be answering these messages, and one day just woke up and realized my health was suffering. I was exhausted. I wasn’t sleeping. I was restless, and I began to think about the implications of all of us not making eye contact anymore. Every conversation we have face-to-face is being interrupted by a buzzing device beckoning our attention elsewhere. People just treat each other really badly, now.
Bila warned of weakening human connectivity via technology’s increasing role as an intermediary of communication. She also warned of technology’s stultification of children’s social development.
“Nobody feels important to anyone anymore because every conversation you have face-to-face [is being] shared with x-amount of people in their phone,” said Bila. “I decided I need to learn how to use these things better. I need to remind people that all these skill sets that young people used to build when they were young, all those interpersonal skills — training them how to have these difficult face-to-face conversations with friends and family members as they got older, job interviews, in dating, when you ask somebody out for the first time and you face the fear of rejection — those character-building moments, those all turn girls and boys into men and women. We’re not doing any of that anymore. All that is happening beyond a cell phone screen. People are hiding behind there, and it’s not building character.”
“It’s terrifying because that’s going to be all [our new generations] know, a world where people don’t make eye contact, they don’t really talk face-to-face, everybody’s distracted,” continued Bila. “There’s a rise in ADHD among kids that coincides with the increase in these devices. Our attention span is now less than the attention span of a goldfish. These are things to be deeply concerned about.”
Parents often use mobile devices such as iPads as pacifiers for children, observed Bila: “The iPad is becoming the babysitter. … Silicon Valley programs these things to be addictive.”
Bila described how social media and online dating can contribute to promiscuity while diminishing meaningful intimacy.
“Believe me, it bleeds into relationships, too,” remarked Bila. “With all these dating apps and this stuff going on, intimacy is on the decline, and that’s why the hook-up culture is completely rampant, now, because everybody’s a swipe left or a swipe right, nobody’s really a person that you connect with on an eye contact [and] intimacy level from day one.”
Bila said mobile devices often amplify anxiety: “Studies show that even if you are not on the phone and [its] notifications are set off, if you rest that phone anywhere near you, you are restless and you are agitated, even if you are not on it, because you are now programmed to be compelled to look at it.”
Breitbart News reported on a 2016-published study linking smartphone use among millennials with depression:
A new study finds that the more time young adults spend using social media, the more likely they are to be depressed.
Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine asked a sample of 1,787 U.S. millennials of ages 19 through 32 about the amount of time spent in their use of social media platforms such as Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Google Plus, Instagram, Snapchat, Reddit, Tumblr, Pinterest, Vine, and LinkedIn.
In November of 2017, Former Napster co-Founder and Facebook President Sean Parker said social media was “exploiting a vulnerability in human psychology,” describing himself as “something of a conscientious objector” to social media.
Bila advised listeners to consider a “digital detox,” saying, “It’s okay to tell the cell phone or iPad, every now and then, to take a back seat to their real life.”
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