I love social media. And as an extension of those feelings, I love my laptop. And my smart phone. But I’m not in love with them. I wanted to make that clear because, apparently, some people are. A new study from Arizona State University finds that people can actually be in love with their favorite devices. You can read a whole article about it here, but basically what we’re talking about is something scientists call “material possession love.” It happens when a person “becomes emotionally attached to possessions as real substitutes in what resembles a human relationship.” (The first thing that comes to mind is those guys who name their cars… or their body parts. Just sayin’)
Many of us can’t leave home without our cell phones. No matter how far away from the house we are, or how late we’re going to be to that meeting, we WILL turn the car around to get it. The alternative – being away from it for day – is just too terrifying. I am certainly guilty of the ‘crackberry syndrome.’ When the smart phone dings, I will immediately respond – checking for a text or an email or a missed call – even if I am in the middle of another task, or (God forbid!) an actual human interaction.
So all of this is funny, and a little wacky, but isn’t it also…. a problem? Is all our interaction with others online actually taking the place of interacting in person? Do I love having mobile access to my email because I can keep in touch with people, or is there something about having the actual device ‘blowing up’ that feels like a validation? What is it that feels so good about having that connection to our gadgets? Even last night’s romantic Valentine’s Day dinner was a little like a double date when Stephen & I both pulled out our phones to ‘check in.’
I have said many times that since we all joined Facebook, I do feel closer to the people in my life. I am grateful every day that I have so much access to my friends and colleagues online. But I do think we need to be careful that our obsession with social media maintains some healthy boundaries. And if my Facebook status ever mentions a date between me and Droid X, please schedule an intervention.