Personal Development: The Road To Burnout


Secondly, screen time interferes and keeps us from interacting with others which is a skill we build with experience. Since there is less practice, this skill is not developed or erodes like a muscle that is not used. Hence, there is an increase in social anxiety and a certain awkwardness when interacting with others. This makes the interaction with our devices a safety behaviour. This means that our devices help us escape these anxious moments. Many adolescents today prefer and feel more comfortable having a skype session rather than face-to-face session for that reason.

Thirdly, after creating the need to escape the awkwardness of interacting with people, we isolate ourselves further with our devices. At this stage, it goes from being a tendency to a need, which becomes a vicious circle that isolates us.

Fourthly, when we constantly avoid interactions by distracting/entertaining ourselves with our devices, we often indirectly develop an aversion to boredom as we experience it less. In the pre-internet world, people had to wait for things. For example, waiting in line or for the album of your favourite band to come out. Today everything must be instant, and in the rare moments when you need to wait for something, people usually take out their phone to entertain consequence of this is that we sensitise ourselves to boredom, making it intolerable.

Lastly, you might have noticed that many people today feel the need to constantly engage in something. Not engaging is often interpreted as being lazy or unproductive, even though we know that being engaged with something is often unproductive. Not being engaged with something can be very useful and necessary as it allows us to rest and reflect. The opportunity to rest and reflect is often given up out of fear of being bored. The aversion to boredom is increased through its avoidance. It is further amplified by the fact that free time is so scarce that its value increases exponentially and therefore making our expectation of what should happen in that time unrealistic.

The pressure of having a fantastic time during the little free time that is left is so great that it makes it very stressful. This pressure corrupts our ability to enjoy things for what they are as our expectations become unrealistic. This is a common problem found in teenagers today where they have the Fear of Missing Out, more commonly known as FOMO, which leads to life dissatisfaction.

Consequently, we can easily get stuck in a vicious circle, which does not even include the addictive nature of many of the social media and other apps that we use today. I am not against technology and in many ways our devices can be very helpful, but we do need to limit the time we spend on them so that they do not negatively impact our lives.

Alexander Anghelou – Psychologist Specialized in Cognitive Behaviour Therapy