205 Million Years Later

Photo credit: Jonatan Pie

I read a incredible statistic today about mobile phone usage and had to dig further.

The stat stated, that globally, people spent 1.6 trillion hours engaging in mobile apps on their phone in the past year.

That’s roughly 30min per day per person in the world. While not every person in the world owns a smartphone 60% of the worldwide population owns a mobile phone and use it at least one a month.

The average user in France spends just over 1.5 hours per day compared to more than 3 hours per day in South Korea. In the US, people spend a whooping average of 5 hours a day on their phone.

What are they doing? Here’s the breakdown of what people in the US are currently doing with their time besides making an old fashion voice call.

The Chief Culprit..

I also read another incredible stat today, Facebook crossed 2 billion registered users.

If Facebook accounts for the largest share of time we spend on our phones, what are we, as 2 billion members of the social network doing on it

Well, one day in 2015, Facebook released trove of data showcasing what 1 billion users were doing in a 24hr span. The highlights are as follows.

  • 43.6 million took pictures of whatever they were eating at the time. Steve notes that there was a disturbing amount of quinoa, for some reason.
  • 17.2 million flirted with an old crush from high school.
  • 12.7 million flirted with an old crush from middle school.
  • 6.8 million posted links to wholesome funny pet videos, hoping to distract friends and family from scrutinizing that Ashley Madison list.
  • 84.2 million posted meme template photos with polemical social observations, rabid political opinions, dubious statistical citations, and/or poor grammar.
  • 77.6 million posted meme template photos with inspirational quotes, folksy bromides, motivational slogans, and/or poor grammar.
  • 127.8 million posted an adorable thing that their child just did.
  • 13.3 million searched the help options for a way to turn off video autoplay. (more info on this feature below)
  • 44.1 million wrote “Happy Birthday!” on someone’s wall.
  • 193.7 million counted the current “Like” number on their last post.
  • 74.0 million humblebragged.

If that was the way 1 billion people spent their time in a given day on Facebook two years ago, is it safe to say 2 billion people are doing roughly the same if not more two years later?

Positive or Negative?

Entertainment, music and gaming can be healthy leisure mediums.

Podcasts are great because they are passively passive where you can listen to insightful artists, authors and scientist discuss any and everything the host and guest can imagine. It’s a beautiful uninterrupted long form medium that is changing the traditional interview format for the better allowing deep ideas to run wild at every turn.

Games can be quite therapeutic to sharpen memory and improve cognitive load management.

Music, yea it’s one of our oldest form of entertainment as humans.

There’s also an opportunity for a new wave of educational tools to preoccupy our time in beneficial ways.

But what about the cat videos? Or spending time coming up with the perfect tagline for the image of the mediocre dinner you had last night? It needs to be witty to achieve a high score of “likes”.

If these actions are not negative and of value and why do we seem so frantically addicted to it?

Alterier Motives..

The dopamine rush you get from the ding of a message alert or instant gratification of a couple new “likes” on our posts has been planned for.

The effort it takes to NOT pick up your phone and check-in has been valued and weighed by the brightest minds.

Your inability to STOP scrolling is a coordinated attack from the highest bidder.

While Apple and Samsung are your new icons of affection, Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat are your new time keepers driven by global advertisers who last year paid $532 billion for access to your attention.

There is a method to the madness.

Luckily there are ones that are sounding the alarm and developing a new premier to reclaim time and instill more of a balance with our technology experiment — a grand social experiment forged in the name of bringing the world closer together and one where we’re only in the early stages of testing.

One Last Question..

All the time we spend, whether engaging in constructive apps or instant gratification distractions is time we could be experiencing the real world around us and people we claim to care about online. Relationships are only strengthened through human interaction and our environment will continue to suffer if we do not play a physical role in it. We can click “likes” to support Paris and direct “angry faces” to those who don’t but if we walk around with our heads down, eyes glued and headphones on, it doesn’t make a real difference what side you claim to be on.

So… how much time are we being distracted?

What do all these hours spent on the phone look like from a yearly perspective?

1.6 trillion hours = 205 million years

Each year in the US, we are spending 76 days on our phone.

Are we gaining something of value from this or did we waste a lot of time? It’s time we need to defend our time with more vigor because we’ll never get it back.


What else could we be doing instead of reaching for our phone and bowing our heads down to the almighty screen?

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