The absence of solitude in our culture has undoubtedly led to a subconscious dependency on smartphones, tablets, and computers. Most of us have lost the ability to be left alone with our thoughts. As Sherry Turkle mentions on page 62, “it is not surprising that today young people become anxious if they are alone without a device. They are likely to say they are bored.” In hearing about the many consequences that Turkle suggests are a part of technology dependency, I wonder if there is also an association between the mental illness prevalence in our society? According to recent statistics, about 1 in 5 Americans suffer from some kind of mental illness. Most common among them, various strains of anxiety and depression. As she talks about how the distance from our phones makes us anxious and its presence make us lack empathy, I see a correlation. If kids are now raised with limited social interactions and a lack of human connection, perhaps it affects their rates of anxiety and depression as they grow older. I understand that some instances of mental illness are genetic and neurological, but for many people, things may be tough simply because our society doesn’t properly cultivate social skills.
In addition, our increasing lack of empathy and conversation might negatively influence how we recognize and relieve signs of mental health struggles in those around us. I imagine that when you’re staring at your phone for 16 hours a day, you lose a sense of connection with family and friends. Because of this, many people struggle internally and alone. In my own life, I have known at least four close friends that dealt with mental illness for years, and probably more that kept quiet because they didn’t feel connected or cared for enough to reach out for help. Maybe there is no direct correlation between technology addiction, but I certainly agree with Turkle’s indication that our human connection is dwindling.