What is digital pollution and Digital Fragmentation Syndrome (DFRAG)?
Is the widespread usage of modern smart technology healthy for humans?
An important question, but also one that’s been neglected in the last decade, where we’ve witnessed one of the greatest changes in the history of mankind – the smartphone revolution. New problems needs new descriptions and our attempt to describe the downsides of the smartphone revolution is digital pollution. It covers both the massive amount of data, that every single smartphone owner processes every single day and the many unhealthy behavior patterns, that arises from this misusage.
Digital pollution is insidious and not always perceptible. The fact that it came upon us practically in one fell swoop overnight means we adapted our behavior to it, rather than adapting the device to our actual needs. The other thing we didn’t know was that the device reciprocates our embrace of it by “rewiring” our brains to suit its own purposes. This is not exactly what most people would consider a fair trade-off. Especially so in light of the fact that we have no idea what the long-term consequences are of this rewiring.
Another description of some of the harms done by an uncritical and impulsive use of smartphone is the Digital Fragmentation Syndrome (DFRAG).
Typical symptoms of DFRAG
DFRAG is a collective term covering the consequences that arises, when humans experience a constant fragmentation of time, space and consciousness level from extended exposure to digital pollution:
• Sleep disturbances. Poorer sleep quality and less of it.
• “Skin hunger” leading to psychological symptoms by lack of touches or hugs by others.
• Neural rewiring. Changes in how your brain works over time, a particular concern for children.
• Increased stress levels. Significant increase in physical stress levels.
• Reduced ability to recover from stress measurable in the body’s level of stress hormones.
• Less physical activity due to screen time.
• Less sex and intimate relations.
• Reduced mental agility. Decision fatigue and mental overload.
• Diminished impulse control. Increased level of impulsive behavior.
• Problems making decisions. Increased number of “automated responses.”
• Diminished attention span. Problems maintaining focus.
• Increasingly reactive behavior. Less proactive behavior.
• Reduced creativity and imagination.
• Decreased self-confidence. Feeling less in control.
• Lower self-esteem.Makes you feel your life isn’t interesting enough.
• Diminished empathy. Becoming less able to empathize with others.
• Reduced social interaction.Moving from the “real world” into the online sphere.
• Increased polarization. Increased participation in negative “tribal” behavior.
• Increased feelings of loneliness. Fear of being left out.
• Increase in antisocial traits. Diminishing of societal coherence.
• Reality distortion. Cognitive dissonance. Echo-chamber effects.
As you will come to realize, these disturbing symptoms of digital pollution are not caused by some “evil big business” conspiracy” nor are there any “mad geniuses” out there purposefully making designs that stress you out. What is happening is in some ways worse. It is the unintended and unpredicted consequence of the meeting between a fragile human cognitive sensorium developed by three million years of evolution consisting of an ongoing adaptation by the brain to the physical and mental environment and more than 60 000 years of socialization with a new technology that uses Big Data and constant optimization by algorithms to globally co-opt, influence and modify a large number of the basic thought and behavior patterns that our behavior, our identity and our culture are based on!