Getting high on pixels and hashtags when the wheels stop

by | Apr 15, 2015 | Storytelling

The next time you’re stopped at a red light look at the drivers around you. Chances are they’re all on a smartphone, occasionally looking up to see if the light has turned green.

Once green they’ll (hopefully) put down their phone and continue driving. We’ve all done it at some point.

But Why?

Why do we feel the need to scroll through our social networks for the 30-90 seconds we’re stopped? Are they that important? Are we simply addicted? Or is this just how we kill boredom in the modern age of technology?

I often leave my phone in my briefcase in the backseat. When I come to a red light my first reaction – check Twitter. But I can’t. Instead I just sit there and do nothing. Every second that passes is another I could have been connected and consuming. Instead I’m static and in my mind unproductive. I feel alone, cutoff and afraid. Afraid I’ll miss an opportunity to make a joke or be the first in my network to share something.

Why sit there doing nothing when I have the means to do something even if the productivity of that something is subjective.

Driving is tedious task

When the wheels of the real world come to a stop we rush to immerse ourselves in a world curated to our liking. A world that is always within reach and always on. From one light to the next, we refresh, thump-down, respond.

Asking what it was like before smartphones is like asking what it was like before electricity – no one remembers.

Driving has become just another one of life’s tedious tasks that forces us to put down our digital needle. While driving we see life happening all around us – a patch of trees, a glimpse of a blue sky, a small boy hand-in-hand with his father on the sidewalk.  Yet in all this beauty we eagerly await the next red light – our next change to get high again on pixels and hashtags.

Have we become addicts? Or are we simply taking advantage of the short break from the chore that is driving?