Between smart phones and social media, people are always connected. This can be both good and bad. Having personally gone so long without a cell phone or social media, I tend to see more the benefits of this technology than the shortfalls. Going without the technology can be a hindrance, which tends to be the problem. In my eyes however the problem is more with the people using the technology than the technology itself.
I got my first cell phone my junior year of high school, after I got my license. I also opened an account on Facebook that year, it was a big year for me. I had a hand-me-down razer, and our service had my family share 800 minutes with no texting. Anyone who had a cell phone throughout school would probably cringe at the thought. If I got a text, I had to call the person, then have them call me back so that I didn’t waste minutes. When I left for college, I found an app that allowed me to text via Wi-Fi, and had to deal with captive portal blocking texts. I can’t begin to describe the difficulty in explaining my two numbers. Finally, when I was about 21, I bought my first smart phone and left my parents plan for unlimited talk, text, and data. In other words, I’ve finally achieved in my 20s a level of connectivity that most kids get handed before middle school.
In spending so much more time unplugged I have a different perspective than most. I sometimes feel as though being unplugged for so long made me awkward, I think it could be argued that the dependency on the technology just made everyone else less sociable. I don’t blame that on the technology though. I know that I for one fake sending a text message, now that I can, to avoid potentially awkward interactions. That’s not because I’m too dependent on my phone, nor is it my phone’s fault. I can, and have, ignored people perfectly fine without it.
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I struggle sometimes to understand how some people can’t go a full movie without checking their phone. I have always turned my phone off at the movies, and I also made it a practice to leave my phone behind when I go to work. I see nomophobia and phantom vibration syndrome has become a real problem. While the video above exaggerates the connection between people and their phones, it seem like it’s slowly being closer to reality. The solution isn’t all that complicated, it takes some intentionality from adults.
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*Louis CK talking about the problem with young kids having cell phones*
Life unplugged wasn’t always easy. Traveling without my smart phone’s GPS was a nightmare. The experience has helped me to be a lot less dependent on my technology than someone who has had a phone since middle school. It’s important for people to take time intentionally putting the technology down, be the example for their kids, as this article talks about. My parents kept me unplugged as long as they could, and as a result I can set aside my tech to get work done.
People tend to blame their phone as a distraction, I however think my phone is a scapegoat. I was equally unproductive before I had a cell phone, the difference is back then I just sat and thought instead of working. When I procrastinate, it’s more often than not because my mind is running, and not my phone tempting me. I’m constantly getting lost in thought while reading for class, and my phone is actually sometimes the remedy. I check it to get my mind off other things so I can get back to work. I also use it to play music, which keeps my mind from wandering in the first place.
This technology exists to improve the world around us. I could easily go on about how my smartphone has improved my life, but I wouldn’t have much to say in terms of it holding me back. There is nothing wrong with smart phones, social media, laptops, and so on, but there sometimes exists a problem in our inability to exist without it even momentarily. The world isn’t going to end if you put your phone on silent and set it down for a while, especially if you are going on a date.