Hello my readers! It is been some time since I have posted, I admit, and I apologize for that (I wrote at least ten posts in my head, if that helps at all). And my “return” post is most likely going to be a controversial one, so no one can ever say that I’m not afraid to come back with a bang, eh?
So, of course, it starts with a story. A few weeks ago, I came across a video whilst perusing through Facebook; a simple, three-ish minute video that has managed to stick with me heavily since then. I have embedded here below for you, so you know what I am talking about. It is called “Can We Auto-Correct Humanity” by an artist named Prince Ea. Have you seen it? Please watch it. Please. It only takes three minutes.
Okay, now I am assuming you watched the video (if you somehow missed it or are simply trying to be rebellious and read this post without watching the video, the link is posted above; seriously, this is for you, not me; watch it), so I know you can guess what I am going to talk about now. It’s a subject that I have always had deep feelings about but am not always so vocal about it: the domination of technology, social media and cellphones.
To be short, I hate it.
But anyone who knows me knows I cannot be truly short (worded) about anything, so let me explain why. I have always been old fashioned when it comes to my choices in the world, and technology has not avoided that. My first car was a 1984 shortbed. I did not get a smart phone until my junior year of college (and even then, that was a surprise from the ‘rents). Before my smart phone, I have had only two phones prior, receiving my first cellular device at the age of 16. I have had one laptop, a proud owner of this Toshiba beast for 5 years now. My only IPod I have ever owned is six years old. I still buy CDs (sometimes). I don’t buy BlueRays. I will never own a Nook (I will save that topic for another post, because that is a rant for an entire different day ((printed books for life)). So yeah, I think you get my drift. I’m not concerned with getting the latest gadget or upgrade, and I don’t want to own an IPad, Tablet and an IPhone just to say I own one, when I already have my perfectly good (albeit slow, you dinosaur, you) laptop. Obviously I hold onto my technological devices until usually, someone forces me to give it up and get a replacement.
As I said, I got a smart phone about a year ago. And part of me was really bummed (because I had just broken my phone and I absolutely loved that Nokia), but the other part of me was kinda excited, for three reasons: A) I could now gets apps, which really meant I was excited to download QuizUp and beat everyone in my knowledge of LOTR (Top in Kansas in both August and September, btw) and Instagram, so I could bombard the world with pictures of my dog (which I still do). B) I could now check my email on my phone. And C) My messages would now show up as a conversation instead of as separate messages, which was very convenient because I normally type out mini-novellas if whoever is texting me will let me (yes, this shows you how old my phone truly was before this latest device). And of course I got other apps and lived up the smart phone life, and it was kinda cool to be able to check anything whenever I wanted, at the brush of my fingertips.
But recently, I noticed a change. Actually, last semester, I was at Applebees with some friends, waiting for food to come out. I was texting my Mom while there was no conversation directed to me, and one of my friends said, “Guys, hey, can we please put our phones in the middle of the table or something? You are all using them.” I looked from from my text and noticed that everyone at the table beside her was on their phone. So we put our phones in the middle of the table and just talked, and it was awesome. But the rest of the night, I was bothered by the fact that I had been in that group who was attached to their phone, even if it was simply texting and no app-related activities. I had never been in that group before.
Since then, I have noticed slowly that I have gotten worst. Though I still don’t understand how to work my phone half the time, I find that I check it a lot. At dinner once, another friend asked me while I was checking my phone so much — just unlocking it, glancing down at it, and then relocking it; not even using it, but constantly checking it. And I looked at her and was surprised. I had no reason. I wasn’t expecting anything or waiting for anything to happen. But the chance of something popping up was there, so I had been unconsciously checking it periodically instead of being fully invested in the conversation going on amongst my peers.
I don’t like this change. I don’t like it at all. Sure, having a smart phone is convenient and makes me easier to contact, through any of the social medias that I subscribe to, or by the simple call or text, but at the same time, it closes me off so much from the world around me. As soon as I get out of class, check the phone. Waiting for the bus or, hell, any lull or free moment in my day, my instinct now is to immediately check my phone, even though I prolly just did a few seconds earlier. Times when I would just look around at my surroundings or just be content to sit and think, are now sacrificed craning my neck, wasting brain cells checking Twitter.
There is a running joke with my coworkers and I, in that we keep a tally of how many times I say something and no one responds/hears/notices. You know what I’m talking about: that awkward situation when you’re speaking and either your audience has stopped listening or just missing it completely and you are usually left sitting there, awkward and unable to escape. Since August, my tally has reached roughly 90 times. 90 times in the span of two and a half months. And I can guarantee that over half of these have been because whomever I was talking to was preoccupied with some sort of phone or tablet or fancy gizmo. And that says a lot about our society today, I think (but I am not also so daft to think that I haven’t also been at the other end of this, as well; I’m as guilty as anyone else).
I’m not claiming that I am not thankful for how advanced we have become. Because of modern day technology, my brother can live even though his pancreas is defective. Because of modern day technology, I can text two of my best friends whom live in England for free, and stay in touch with them, whereas before, I would have lost them two years ago. Hell, because of my phone, I am able to stay in touch with all my friends from high school or my friends who live out of state. And I am not saying I want to throw all my electronics out of the window and never use them again (my PS3 was my best friend this past summer and I don’t regret a single hour wasted away living as my character Tauriel in DragonAge), but I really want to not be so attached as I am discovered I am becoming.
I joked with some friends the other day that I am going to take my kids and live in the woods without any phones and Apple products. They laughed, but then they said, “Man, how behind are they going to be?” or “Talk about that culture shock.” And it’s true. Technology is so ingrained within our culture that if I raised my kids to be completely without, I would actually be hindering them and their chances for success in the future (and the fact that we are that depended makes me so sad). But, I am also not going to buy my five year old an IPhone (hell, I might make them wait until they are at least in middle school, who knows).
The thing is, this is a problem: this dependence and attachment and this…idea that a person can only survive if their phone is always attached to them, fully charged and ready to take them away from the world that continues to live on without them, is a problem. But it is also a good thing that we can utilize and use, if we only learn how to balance it. There must be a way in which I can own a smart phone yet not feel compulsed to check it every ten seconds. There has to be a way for a person to have an account on all the trending social media sites, yet be able to resist the urge to check it for an hour whilst they are out playing catch with their neighbor. There has to be way to live with this dominating technology but not at the expense and sacrifice of imagination or nature.
I don’t have any of the answers, but I do know that I want to find that balance within my own life, so I can appreciate the life I am blessed to have more fully. I don’t want to miss anything because I am too busy checking to see what all the people that I never talk to are currently doing on Facebook. So I dunno what I am going to do, yet. I am thinking about buying a watch so I know what time it is without my phone and leaving my phone at home once a week whilst I go to class. Or perhaps dedicating an hour a week where I go eat lunch with a friend or read a book, and turn my phone off or put it away so I do not even have the temptation to check it. Eventually, I would like to limit or deactivate my social media accounts. I am not sure what I am going to do, yet. But I think having this social awareness of my developing attachment and trying to change it before it becomes irreversible is a good first step. And I dunno, maybe you wanna look and see how attached you are. Could you “survive” a day without your phone?
PS: Whilst writing this post, I prolly checked my phone roughly a dozen times, just to see what was going on. So I obviously have some work to do.