WhatsApp is ruining our lives Business

The days of playing Snake on a Nokia 3310 are long gone. Now the phones in our hands can instantly take us down an online rabbit hole of limitless information and quick and easy contacts. He stopped being nice.

We all know we should be spending less time on our phones, but few of us do.

Screen use has increased since the pandemic, with 54% of UK adults now using their screens more regularly and half ‘heavily exposed’ for a combined total of 11 hours or more each day, according to research from the University of Leeds.

Businesses are starting to step in, compounded by the fact that more and more of their customers and staff are becoming phone zombies.

The instant messaging application WhatsApp is particularly targeted.

A pub manager tells me he is considering imposing an outright ban on staff WhatsApp group chats outside certain hours because the amount of work-related messages popping up at inconvenient times means workers don’t can never completely die out.

But he too is a drug addict. “If you need to contact me, better use WhatsApp,” he said at the end of our conversation.

Last week, members of a major teachers’ union said late-night WhatsApp messages from school leaders were “undermining” morale.

One member complained that headteachers were responding to unanswered emails outside working hours by creating “WhatsApp groups that ring and ping all evening when you’re trying to rest”.

Attention is turning to how staff use their smartphones after various restaurants and pubs say enough is enough for phone-addicted customers.

Pub chain Samuel Smith banned mobiles in 2019, while famed Soho venue The French House promotes a “no music, no machines, no TV and no cellphones rule” on its website, saying the removal of these distractions means it is a “haven for talkers”.

Michelin-starred St John takes a similar stance. “Your phone is not your tool for eating, it shouldn’t be on the table with your knife, fork, glass and bread,” founder and chef Fergus Henderson once said. Many agree. A mobile is the unwanted guest at the table, luring its owner out of the present moment.

That’s exactly what tech companies, who have spent years perfecting and monetizing the art of keeping their eyes on their creations, want. Today, the extremely addictive nature of these apps, especially WhatsApp, is starting to cost employers millions of dollars.

On WhatsApp, messages can be sent in seconds with little more than a second thought, raising concerns within the banking industry that bankers could too easily share potentially sensitive business information through the app.

HSBC revealed earlier this year that it was being investigated by US regulators over alleged misuse of WhatsApp, while JP Morgan was fined $200m (£151m). sterling) by US regulators in December.

The crackdown on WhatsApp use at work has spooked the city. A seasoned investor recently told me that his employer banned him from using the app to talk about his work. “I wasn’t sure if I was in scope as I don’t process, but apparently I’m now – a bit in a gray area,” he said.

But it’s not just the private sector that is losing patience with enforcement. Last month, a report by the Institute for Government concluded that Whitehall needed to ‘get a handle’ on how Whatsapp was used by ministers.

It came after the Cabinet Office told a court that Boris Johnson’s WhatsApp messages from the period covering the alleged Downing Street parties and lockdowns were ‘no longer available’.

Businesses and individuals have found that our addiction to our phones and the instantaneous and constant chatter inside them comes at a cost. We have reached the WhatsApp peak. Letting go of overuse will only get stronger from now on.

The zookeeper who takes care of Amare told the Chicago Grandstand that as soon as the screens were removed from the gorilla, they noted positive changes in his behavior. “Amare realizes that it’s not really worth it for him to sit there in that corner, waiting for someone to come and show him his phone.”

We can all learn from this.

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This notice was published: 2022-04-24 15:00:00

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