top of page

Disconnect To Connect

When overstimulation has become a fact of life, I suggest that we reimagine #FOMO as #NOMO, the necessity of missing out, or if that bothers you, #NOSMO, the necessity of sometimes missing out.

– Jenny Odell, from her book “How To Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy”.

JL, J. (2018). [abstract faces of serious people checking their phones except for one, that is happy, looking at a flower] [Illustration]. CNN Philippines.

Many of us check our phones even before we brush our teeth or start functioning. Somehow, we have acquired the addictive habit—consciously or not—of “just checking” what is going on. Has an emergency popped at work? Has any life-changing event happened overnight? Are my family and friends’ circle doing well?

Technology is already an essential part of us. In almost all spheres of our lives today there is a screen and internet. We spend the day working in front of a screen and then we get off and use another one to escape from the time we spent on the first while at work. The amount of time spent offline is becoming a minor part of our day-to-day activities and this is causing most of us the so-called digital fatigue.

A topic of concern is the fact that we spend more and more time online, which not only affects the eyesight, but also lets us miss out on social interaction away from the screen.

As Scott Wallsten, President and Senior Fellow at the Washington Technology Policy Institute, mentioned in his article What Are We Not Doing When We’re Online: Each additional minute of time spent online is correlated with 0.27 fewer minutes working; 0.28 fewer minutes spent on other leisure activities, […]; 0.12 fewer minutes sleeping; and 0.05 fewer minutes socializing offline.”

Some of the most relevant areas that suffer from us being online most of the time are:

  • In-person social interaction: Although we spend a significant amount of time speaking in chats and online conversations, the fact that they are not face-to-face conversations leads to people being less likely to gain social skills, such as knowing how to handle an uncomfortable conversation or learning how to discuss without a screen protecting them. With screens around us there is a tendency to feel a false secure sensation under which people speak or say things they may not say in person, i.e. the hater philosophy in platforms like Twitter. Also, a virtual kiss or hug has not the same healing effect as a physical one, and the social species we are needs an occasional interaction that bristles the skin.

  • Education: The more we spend time online, the less we spend on education. This measurement is particularly striking when it comes to teenagers and younger people between the ages of 15 and 25, and it is becoming an alarming symptom considering that these are the ages when younger people are forming their characters, interests, and aspirations.

  • Deep critical thinking: The immense amount of information to which we are exposed these days leads us to frequently multitask while reducing our attention to intermittent and short-term episodes. We jump from one topic to another without dedicating much time to either of them and we do it constantly. This cherry-picking content process allows us to reach