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Nicolas B. Aziz Headshot

Millennials: The Anti-Social Socialites

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In the commercial above, an exuberant little girl gives her jumbled explanation of why "more" is better than "less." Following this, telecommunication giant AT&T appropriately relates this explanation to a proclamation of the fact that they have the largest 4G network in the United States.

Sadly, and certainly unbeknownst to these naïve rug rats employed to increase this Fortune 500 company's market share, this "more" they are helping to promote will actually contribute to their generation's demise. Ironically, these spunky tots of generation Z will eventually turn into adolescents and young adults who are addicted to these same large data networks and mobile devices they are presently helping to advertise.

Millennials (along with the Myspace Toms and Mark Zuckerbergs of the world) are unfortunately the culprits of this, as we are currently leading the spread of an epidemic which I will now appropriately dub: the "techtonic plague." The most prevalent component of this plague is mobile device addiction which consists of and results in occurrences such as: an abundance of self-taken photos of one's face, constant newsfeed refreshing and the social etiquette degeneration of our generation.

This epidemic has led to a norm of intermittent social extractions, which have resulted in individuals disposing of some of the best naturally-sociable qualities we possess as human beings. No longer are we satisfied with the simplicity of face-to-face interactions. We must now complement them with constant messages to absent friends and updates about their lives via endless forms of social media.

Dr. Jeremy Spiegel is the founder and medical director of Casco Bay Medical, a private psychiatric and mind-body practice with offices in Danvers, Mass., Portland, Maine and New York City. He is a nationally-recognized psychiatrist and an award-winning author who has conducted an abundance of research regarding mobile device addiction.

He believes that most millennials, and all others who walk around with their heads tilted down and consumed in their mobile devices, are truly sacrificing something.

"The attention paid to the phone instead of the world around them, or especially the flesh and blood of the people [in front of] them, yields opportunities lost," he said.

"Something has happened that spontaneous life has taken a back seat," he added. "Texting has supplanted talking... We don't just have time that goes by anymore. Now, all of time is almost meted out by call and response."

Spiegel's research and treatment of mobile device addiction has even found a correlation between illness and emotional insecurity.

"The long term consequence, I think, is a potential lack of confidence in being alone," he said. "This means, in a broad sense, the ability to just be without any augmentation."

To lend even further support of this epidemic within my generation of millennials, I chose to conduct my own primary research on the topic. These findings, in my opinion, were in no way surprising as they merely confirmed many beliefs that I already had.

Mobile Device Addiction Survey Results

• 55 respondents: 24 male, 31 female
• 49 respondents were members of the Millennial generation (birth year early 1980s to early 2000s), while 6 were members of Generation X (birth year early 1960s to early 1980s).
• 98 percent of respondents owned a smartphone, and 48 percent owned a tablet computer.
• 83 percent of respondents reported a bachelor's degree or master's degree as their highest level of education.
• 92 percent of respondents reported that they actively use Facebook on their mobile devices.
• 81 percent of respondents reported that they actively use Instagram on their mobile devices.
• 72 percent of respondents reported that they actively use Twitter on their mobile devices.
• 64 percent of respondents reported that they would rather send a text message than call someone.
• 43 percent of respondents reported that life without mobile devices would be quite boring.
• 57 percent of respondents reported that they could be more productive or efficient with their job performance or school work if they spent a little less time using mobile devices.
• 52 percent of respondents reported that they tend to use their mobile device while they are at the dinner table.
• 53 percent of respondents reported that they sometimes use their mobile device to communicate with someone who is within an earshot of them.
• 55 percent of respondents reported that they feel uneasy when their mobile device does not have good signal strength.
• 51 percent of respondents reported that it would be difficult to go a day without using their mobile device.
• 72 percent of respondents reported that they actively use social media applications such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram while out with friends and/or family.
• 67 percent of respondents reported that they always, or most of the time, stay up late using their mobile device just before going to sleep.
• 68 percent of respondents reported that they always, or most of the time, find themselves using their mobile device before beginning daily activities such as using the bathroom, brushing teeth, etc.

The above findings simply reaffirm the obvious: Millennials are consumed with their mobile devices and are setting the world up to be in an extremely socially-perilous state in the future. It is thus imperative that we be more cognizant and refrain from the urge to stay "connected," or else continue to allow our affinity for social media and mobile devices to corrode our personal experience of living.

So are we going to allow ourselves to live? Or are we going to allow ourselves (and our world's social etiquette) to die?

Special thanks to Dr. Bryant Marks, Thomas Benjamin and the Morehouse College Department of Psychology for their help in conducting the survey.

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