Column: Having ‘Compu-Personal Syndrome’

March 24, 2017

[Opinion column written by Alex Conyers]

This is the first of what I’ve been thinking for a while, and maybe the first post/editorial of a couple more to come. It is also the first diagnosis [that I know of] of what I think a couple of us might be feeling, experiencing, and/or suffering from, but are unable to put words to. It is a syndrome I have impromptly called ‘compu-personal syndrome’. Bear with me.

So….have you ever had a weird anxious feeling, like an urge in the back of your brain, or a kind of impulse, itch, or longing before you check social media, often at night or in the morning after disconnecting from work hours or waking up, to see who may have liked your recent activity or something similar in LinkedIn, Facebook or Instagram? More so, do these ‘social portals’ ever leave you feeling kind of empty after you have checked it?

If you answered yes, I think there may be a pattern related to the way we ‘interact’ with each other these days, increasingly through social media portals. Loosely defined, I would call social media the portals and technology that replace interpersonal communication with compu-personal communication [such as Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, but also emails and text to some extent].

Social Media TC March 23 2017

I think it has a lot to do with being so overwhelmed mentally with day to day work and life, and so subsumed socially, that in a progressively technology driven society we begin to ‘shut down’, if you will, in our down time; time traditionally reserved for wholesome interpersonal interaction.

Throughout most of human history this ‘down time’ was customarily reserved for interacting with loved ones or sharing our days’ experiences or reflecting on the achievements or just simply relaxing. But given the fast paced, increasingly instant and demanding compu-connected lives we live, we spend a lot of this interpersonal communication time in compu-personal interaction.

I mean, it makes sense, right? If, say, in just one average day [any average day like today] you shared three photos, two status updates, and called, emailed and texted with 20 different friends or family throughout the day, that is vastly different than in a time of what our parents’ generation would have dubbed the ‘old days’ when you were working 9 to 5 and receiving information via a letter.

So then you can kind of understand that today we are saturated with these hyper intense, blurb-ish updates about, from, and to a lot of people we don’t really know or remember knowing outside our various social portals, often via a ‘program’ which ‘thinks’ it is relevant for us.

And remember, it’s in that computer program’s [or basically these company’s] best interest to keep you as glued to the screen as possible. If you stop checking, they don’t make money, so you’re personal health and how this affects you is of little concern to them [again think of the numerous ‘portals’ you use].

Don’t get me wrong – I’ve used or use all of these, but I think we need to learn to understand how it is affecting us. Let’s not mistake our need for self-validation with genuine fulfillment. I’d argue the former is very empty when impersonal, and the latter very full when personal.

Because it leads to a self-subsuming cycle, which is pretty destructive in a lot of ways. It turns us into introverts, or at least depletes our ability to assume healthy human ‘in-person’ interpersonal relationships. Have you ever noticed when you check Instagram first thing in the morning and last thing at night and ‘forget’ to say good morning or good night to a loved one who in most cases would be lying next to you?

I mean, honestly, are any of us going to look back in 10 years at a picture on Instagram we posted or Facebook status we commented on?

No. We’ll remember that best friend we hugged, or didn’t, that family member we laughed with, or missed the chance to, or that loved one we kissed good morning or good night to, or didn’t make the effort for.

All I’m saying is we need to remember that sometimes we pass up that moment every day because, well, you’re probably working, reading, or holding a device just like it on a similar portal right now…

Ne plus ultra

- Alex Conyers


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Comments (1)

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  1. Chris Famous says:

    Great piece.

    It’s all about how we utilize social media