Chart of the Day: Millennials Love Their Smartphones, Hate Their Smartphones

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A new Vox poll exposes the love-hate relationship that millennials have with their smartphones:

A slight majority of those under 45 say they agree with the statement “the ability to be constantly connected to the internet with a smartphone can make me feel stressed out.” In contrast, only a quarter of those over 65 agreed with the statement. Seventy-eight percent of people under 30 found the constant connectivity of their smartphones distracting.

I imagine this feeling of being stressed comes from a feeling that you have to stay absolutely current about everything. Every alert might be something important. Donald Trump just said something stupid! Val and Kim are moving in together! This is the cutest kitten ever! Even if it’s just a quick OMG, you feel like you have to participate.

I sympathize. The difference is that as a blogger, my time scale for being current is measured in hours or so. There’s a certain amount of stress in that, but at least it’s limited to one thing (political news) and doesn’t require me to literally respond within minutes. Social use of smartphones is different. A text requires immediate response, usually within seconds or minutes—which is sort of ironic since one of the benefits of texting is supposed to be that it’s asynchronous. Technically it is, but in real life hardly anyone treats it that way.

But I imagine that things will all sort themselves out. Our phones will get ever smarter, and eventually our AI avatars will just respond for us. At some point, most communications will just be our smartphones chatting with each other while pretending to be people. That way, we stay in the loop, but we can catch up with things later—and hope that our smartphone didn’t make any horrible social faux pas. Welcome to the future.

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