It’s that person you know all too well, outside of the social media grid and the confines of an endless wall of memes.
In an age where socialization is subtracted to the mere exchange of words on a blank, digital wall, we’re running into a severe divergence of who we are as people.
Better yet, the question that matters most isn’t being asked: Who do we become as our attention continually shifts from the physical to the digital?
While there aren’t any scientific accounts to corroborate our attention span shortening considerably over the past few decades, there is a case to be made for the shift in our focus.
This is clear in a study published in 2018, which followed the prevalence of children diagnosed with ADHD. The findings concluded that adolescents aged 4–17 diagnosed with ADHD had increased considerably, across subgroups by age, sex, race/ethnicity, family income, and geographic regions:
Whereas 1997 found approximately 6% of adolescents aged 4 to 17 diagnosed with ADHD, by 2015–2016 that number had jumped to 10.2%.
Stephen Hinshaw, who co-authored a book called “The ADHD Explosion: Myths, Medication, Money, and Today’s Push for Performance” found that ADHD and depression had more similarities than differences. He describes the problem with both conditions to be one that exists in the absence of clear biological markers. This makes the process of diagnosis an incredibly difficult task. Of the many symptoms for ADHD, some of them include things like inattention, disorganization, poor time management, fidgety behavior, and impulsiveness.
“It might be an epidemic of diagnosing it.” — Professor Hinshaw
Our relationship with ourselves is changing.
A theme of unattainability is growing in the crevices of society, within the grasp of our hands.
Mostly, in an age where data transmission is reaching speeds unheard of, speed is becoming the only metric that holds value. A medical diagnosis that is fast and a medication that is simple outperforms the slower, more painful realizations of a reality that is diametrically different than it was twenty years ago.
The world of applications and instant communication has changed the composition of our daily lives, and, for the younger generations, that change is easier to see.
Our fast new world, and how the marketing campaign of today encourages you to commit a personal fraud.
This connection is the least clear but the last leg. Within grids on Instagram, a highlight reel of your likes on a dating application, and a flurrying list of information pieces on your Facebook, you’ve created a data bubble of self-marketing.
In that world, the pieces of our actual life and the life we portray have diverged over time.
A grid that posts only your best moments were staged.
Your dating campaign is a list of things you think someone else might enjoy reading about you.
Your Facebook is old enough that it is displaying things about you even you don’t remember existed anymore.
Worse, manipulation across the digital space grows at a faster pace than it would otherwise. Preying on people over the internet is a matter of messaging the same thing across many applications, with almost instantaneous response times.
The person that is built in that campaign isn’t the person building the campaign.
When you’re writing the words, or you’re listing things off, you’re who you’ve always been. The person in private, the person doing the task to reach completeness and satisfaction.
This is a person not hurried by the spin of the earth, but sped up and wounded by the anxiety of society.
That is the authentic diagnosis of the current dis-equilibrium, the divide between the transference of the fast and the authenticity of the human. These components aren’t colliding, except that one is beginning to overtake and compartmentalize what we otherwise know as everyday life.
Society’s worst ills are in the absence of recognizing a real problem, the ones that lay underneath the surface, and reflect at our innermost truths.
Our descriptions are never supposed to take the place of our entire life; in the same essence that a painting or a photograph does not replace the experience you have in real-time. Our realities are not supposed to be fragmented pieces of pixel designed to be added, re-added, or deleted at a moment’s notice or a swipe of a finger.
Where we choose ease and accessibility over depth and personal responsibility, we lose sense of what’s authentic. Namely, of what is distinctly us and uniquely private.