In today’s digital age, we are more attached to our technological gadgets than we are to each other. Introverts, who are naturally wary of people, embrace the anonymity of the internet to interact with other people. Extroverts, too, prefer to hide behind their digital avatar and indulge in mindless gossips on social media groups. However, what happens when the connectivity is broken. A recent study has shown that failure in digital technology, especially the internet, might invoke extreme reactions from people who suffer from a fear of missing out (FOMO) or internet addiction.
The study, which is published in the journal Heliyon, examines 630 participants aged 18 to 68 through a questionnaire. After analyzing the feedback, the researchers state that people with FOMO — the anxiety that you are missing out a social experience others might be having while you are offline — or an internet addiction displays more extreme reactions. People who were seen as being more neurotic and extroverted also had more extreme reactions to failures in digital technology.
The study states that such reaction indicate a psychological dependency on digital technology, and such people are most likely to have maladaptive responses when it goes wrong. Maladaptive responses include getting angry, panicking or feeling depressed. These responses are not only unhelpful, but they have also been shown to have a detrimental impact on productivity and achieving goals, and can, therefore, lead to poor job performance.
“The more we use our devices, the more we get attached to them, so when they do not work, we tend to just go a little bit ‘crazy’ or just switch off and stop doing things altogether,” said lead researcher Lee Hadlington, a psychologist at the De Montfort University, UK.
The study also finds out that the level of frustration of a person decreases along with age, indicative that psychological dependence might wear off as maturity sets in. But, the older people in the study didn’t reside in the world of smartphones and laptops when they were young. It would be worthwhile to note how millennials would react 50 years down the line when they become old.
A recent study in the UK noted that how our cellphone addiction is responsible for lower human contact. As we tend to hide behind the screens of our smartphones and laptops, we get more attached to them than to the person with whom we are actually chatting. Hence, when the internet signal drops, we tend to have a very extreme reaction, as it’s our addiction to the device that’s responsible for it.
“If we can understand what leads individuals to react in certain ways, and why these differences occur, we can hopefully make sure that when digital technology does fail people are better supported and there are relevant signposts for them to follow to get help,” Hadlington noted.