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The Instant Gratification Society: Have We Lost Our Human Touch?

The Instant Gratification Society: Have We Lost Our Human Touch?

It wasn’t all too long ago that society seemed to move at a slower pace. Everyday tasks such as checking to see when the latest movie is screening or finding your way to a newly opened nightclub used to require a certain amount of time.

The internet has changed all that, and today you can easily accomplish both tasks in a matter of seconds — all without even looking up from your smartphone screen.

Previously “old-fashioned” pursuits like taking a walk in the park have been augmented by popular smartphone app-based games like Pokémon Go, which encourages players to get outside and search the real world for in-game elements like the famous Pikachu character.

The Era of Instant Gratification

According to a 2015 report published by the Pew Research Center, the number of Americans who own a smartphone has nearly doubled in recent years, jumping from 35% in 2011 to 64% last year. Also, 46% of users believe their smartphone to be “something they couldn’t live without,” with major portions of the population now using mobile devices to send and receive email (88%), access online banking (57%), apply for jobs (43%), and even take instructional courses (30%).

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Most people who grew up during the digital age now expect everything, from factual information to fun and entertainment, delivered to them at the click of a button.

Coffee aficionados can order their favorite latte online and have it ready right when they walk in the door. Poker players who are looking to play online poker for real money can get instant access online to games when they don’t have time to download a full software package and still enjoy the same bonuses. Students learning a foreign language or living abroad can record the words of a stranger and immediately translate their meaning.

While this ease of access can streamline many aspects of social interaction, leading to increased efficiency and more time in the day for actual activities, many observers fear that the opposite may be occurring. Rather than freeing people to spend more time with one another, smartphones and the instant gratification they provide could actually create a heightened sense of social isolation.

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Young_people_texting_on_smartphones_using_thumbs

    Source: en.wikipedia.org

    The World Behind A Screen

    A recent study in Psychology Today revealed that over 90% of respondents in all age groups made fewer than 10 phone calls per day. Instead of speaking to their friends, family, and fellow human beings, smartphone users today invariably choose text messaging as their preferred mode of communication.

    This phenomenon has led to the rise of so-called “smartphone zombies,” or people who walk through the world with their gazes fixed squarely on the screen, rather than looking up to experience reality as it truly is.

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    Smartphone_Zombies

      Source: en.wikipedia.org

      Fortunately, as people continue to take notice of the dominant role smartphones and other mobile technologies play in modern life, a growing movement has developed to champion the cause of human interaction.

      Modern Day Solutions

      Families are instituting phone-free zones at the dinner table or living room, while many schools now forbid students from bringing their devices into the classroom. Young children are being encouraged to visit the library and check out paperbound books.

      All of this isn’t to say instant gratification doesn’t still have its place in today’s world, as tech developers are constantly searching for ways to integrate immediacy with genuine experiences.

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      Whereas previous iterations of instant gaming technology would confine players to a stationary position, the new wave of socially oriented games like Pokémon Go are premised on physical activity and interaction with fellow players. The game’s appeal lies in its unpredictability, as you never quite know when a quick drive to the grocery store will turn into a full-fledged hunt for Pokémon.

      Following two decades of full immersion in the internet age, people today find themselves yearning for simple human contact. Luckily, by making a little extra effort we can regain that human touch that might seem to be slipping away. Taking five minutes to enter your local Starbucks and chat with your favorite barista may not be any faster than typing your order into an app, but as many of us continue to discover, it can definitely be more fulfilling.

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      Last Updated on January 15, 2021

      7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

      7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

      The popular idiomatic saying that “actions speak louder than words” has been around for centuries, but even to this day, most people struggle with at least one area of nonverbal communication. Consequently, many of us aspire to have more confident body language but don’t have the knowledge and tools necessary to change what are largely unconscious behaviors.

      Given that others’ perceptions of our competence and confidence are predominantly influenced by what we do with our faces and bodies, it’s important to develop greater self-awareness and consciously practice better posture, stance, eye contact, facial expressions, hand movements, and other aspects of body language.

      Posture

      First things first: how is your posture? Let’s start with a quick self-assessment of your body.

      • Are your shoulders slumped over or rolled back in an upright posture?
      • When you stand up, do you evenly distribute your weight or lean excessively to one side?
      • Does your natural stance place your feet relatively shoulder-width apart or are your feet and legs close together in a closed-off position?
      • When you sit, does your lower back protrude out in a slumped position or maintain a straight, spine-friendly posture in your seat?

      All of these are important considerations to make when evaluating and improving your posture and stance, which will lead to more confident body language over time. If you routinely struggle with maintaining good posture, consider buying a posture trainer/corrector, consulting a chiropractor or physical therapist, stretching daily, and strengthening both your core and back muscles.

      Facial Expressions

      Are you prone to any of the following in personal or professional settings?

      • Bruxism (tight, clenched jaw or grinding teeth)
      • Frowning and/or furrowing brows
      • Avoiding direct eye contact and/or staring at the ground

      If you answered “yes” to any of these, then let’s start by examining various ways in which you can project confident body language through your facial expressions.

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      1. Understand How Others Perceive Your Facial Expressions

      A December 2020 study by UC Berkeley and Google researchers utilized a deep neural network to analyze facial expressions in six million YouTube clips representing people from over 140 countries. The study found that, despite socio-cultural differences, people around the world tended to use about 70% of the same facial expressions in response to different emotional stimuli and situations.[1]

      The study’s researchers also published a fascinating interactive map to demonstrate how their machine learning technology assessed various facial expressions and determined subtle differences in emotional responses.

      This study highlights the social importance of facial expressions because whether or not we’re consciously aware of them—by gazing into a mirror or your screen on a video conferencing platform—how we present our faces to others can have tremendous impacts on their perceptions of us, our confidence, and our emotional states. This awareness is the essential first step towards

      2. Relax Your Face

      New research on bruxism and facial tension found the stresses and anxieties of Covid-19 lockdowns led to considerable increases in orofacial pain, jaw-clenching, and teeth grinding, particularly among women.[2]

      The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research estimates that more than 10 million Americans alone have temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ syndrome), and facial tension can lead to other complications such as insomnia, wrinkles, dry skin, and dark, puffy bags under your eyes.[3])

      To avoid these unpleasant outcomes, start practicing progressive muscle relaxation techniques and taking breaks more frequently throughout the day to moderate facial tension.[4] You should also try out some biofeedback techniques to enhance your awareness of involuntary bodily processes like facial tension and achieve more confident body language as a result.[5]

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      3. Improve Your Eye Contact

      Did you know there’s an entire subfield of kinesic communication research dedicated to eye movements and behaviors called oculesics?[6] It refers to various communication behaviors including direct eye contact, averting one’s gaze, pupil dilation/constriction, and even frequency of blinking. All of these qualities can shape how other people perceive you, which means that eye contact is yet another area of nonverbal body language that we should be more mindful of in social interactions.

      The ideal type (direct/indirect) and duration of eye contact depends on a variety of factors, such as cultural setting, differences in power/authority/age between the parties involved, and communication context. Research has shown that differences in the effects of eye contact are particularly prominent when comparing East Asian and Western European/North American cultures.[7]

      To improve your eye contact with others, strive to maintain consistent contact for at least 3 to 4 seconds at a time, consciously consider where you’re looking while listening to someone else, and practice eye contact as much as possible (as strange as this may seem in the beginning, it’s the best way to improve).

      3. Smile More

      There are many benefits to smiling and laughing, and when it comes to working on more confident body language, this is an area that should be fun, low-stakes, and relatively stress-free.

      Smiling is associated with the “happiness chemical” dopamine and the mood-stabilizing hormone, serotonin. Many empirical studies have shown that smiling generally leads to positive outcomes for the person smiling, and further research has shown that smiling can influence listeners’ perceptions of our confidence and trustworthiness as well.

      4. Hand Gestures

      Similar to facial expressions and posture, what you do with your hands while speaking or listening in a conversation can significantly influence others’ perceptions of you in positive or negative ways.

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      It’s undoubtedly challenging to consciously account for all of your nonverbal signals while simultaneously trying to stay engaged with the verbal part of the discussion, but putting in the effort to develop more bodily awareness now will make it much easier to unconsciously project more confident body language later on.

      5. Enhance Your Handshake

      In the article, “An Anthropology of the Handshake,” University of Copenhagen social anthropology professor Bjarke Oxlund assessed the future of handshaking in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic:[8]

      “Handshakes not only vary in function and meaning but do so according to social context, situation and scale. . . a public discussion should ensue on the advantages and disadvantages of holding on to the tradition of shaking hands as the conventional gesture of greeting and leave-taking in a variety of circumstances.”

      It’s too early to determine some of the ways in which Covid-19 has permanently changed our social norms and professional etiquette standards, but it’s reasonable to assume that handshaking may retain its importance in American society even after this pandemic. To practice more confident body language in the meantime, the video on the science of the perfect handshake below explains what you need to know.

      6. Complement Your Verbals With Hand Gestures

      As you know by now, confident communication involves so much more than simply smiling more or sounding like you know what you’re talking about. What you do with your hands can be particularly influential in how others perceive you, whether you’re fidgeting with an object, clenching your fists, hiding your hands in your pockets, or calmly gesturing to emphasize important points you’re discussing.

      Social psychology researchers have found that “iconic gestures”—hand movements that appear to be meaningfully related to the speaker’s verbal content—can have profound impacts on listeners’ information retention. In other words, people are more likely to engage with you and remember more of what you said when you speak with complementary hand gestures instead of just your voice.[9]

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      Further research on hand gestures has shown that even your choice of the left or right hand for gesturing can influence your ability to clearly convey information to listeners, which supports the notion that more confident body language is readily achievable through greater self-awareness and deliberate nonverbal actions.[10]

      Final Takeaways

      Developing better posture, enhancing your facial expressiveness, and practicing hand gestures can vastly improve your communication with other people. At first, it will be challenging to consciously practice nonverbal behaviors that many of us are accustomed to performing daily without thinking about them.

      If you ever feel discouraged, however, remember that there’s no downside to consistently putting in just a little more time and effort to increase your bodily awareness. With the tips and strategies above, you’ll be well on your way to embracing more confident body language and amplifying others’ perceptions of you in no time.

      More Tips on How to Develop a Confident Body Language

      Featured photo credit: Maria Lupan via unsplash.com

      Reference

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