Ever see those memes? Someone sits in front of a bowl of chips and says, “take these away from me!” That’s precisely how I feel about my phone. Of course, I like being able to search for anything from white savior films to Glasgow’s weather forecast at the flick of my wrist. However, I’ve become so intertwined with my technology that oftentimes, it scares me.
Many of us have been there. Standing in line at some coffee shop or movie theater, waiting as bills and credit cards are exchanged for warm paper cups or ticket stubs. Quickly and unthinkingly, I pull my phone out of my coat pocket and click on some random app in my “Social Media” folder. Before I know it, I’m scrolling through Instagram posts I’ve already seen. Mindlessly moving my eyes across Tweets that I’m not actually reading. How did I get to this point where my phone is more of a crutch than a convenience?
What I find most frightening is that 90% of the time I’m on my phone, I don’t even feel like I’m getting anything out of it. I reach over to my phone immediately upon waking up more out of habit than anything else. Why? Looking at an endless reel of old acquaintances having a ball on vacation kind of just makes me sad. Taking several versions of the same picture for Snapchat streaks isn’t exactly my idea of fun.
Quite honestly, I hate the dynamic that phones have created. I despise the way I jump to take a video when a friend does something ridiculous. I loathe the awkward silence that surfaces when a lively conversation dissipates into several pairs of eyes staring emptily at phone screens. I’m frustrated by the fact that every event somehow turns into a mission to snap a picture that’s worthy of a post.
Of course, social media can be a great tool for connecting with causes you care about and a powerful tool for education (beware of empathy burnout, though). In this way, a phone is an excellent instrument for exploration and change by providing a medium to sign petitions, share powerful stories, and contact representatives. Honestly though, I doubt that this is what everyone is doing when I look around a room and see noses buried in glowing screens.
I often think about what it would be like to come of age in a world not tainted by the ubiquity of smartphones. Would I be better off? Or would I hate having to seek out an encyclopedia everytime a little question pops up in my mind? I’m a product of the world in which I’ve been brought up, and without this environment I might have been someone unrecognizably different.
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Photo by Thai Nguyen via Unsplash
Would you rather live in a world before smartphones?