Smartphones, dumb people — disconnect, if only for a moment

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By Katlyn Oliver

What happened to the day when people would pick up a phone and give you a friendly call or leave a voice message? Or walk next door just to say, “Hi, how’s it going?” It is the strangest thing — when I decide to call some of my friends, they actually get anxious that it was not a text. Technology has played such a prominent role in our lives from a very young age.  Do not get me wrong, the technology today is impressive, useful and life-saving. It is convenient that so much information is only a half a click away, but it has allowed people not to use their brains. Just ask Siri; she will know. How many of us know all the roads to get home or just to get to Union? The answer is most likely very few of us — we just use Google Maps. I find it ironic that smartphones are making us dumber.  

Social media is everywhere — it is how people in our generation stay connected to one another. How many of us have Snapchat, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, GroupMe, Yik Yak or Tinder? How many people have more than one email, as if one is not enough? There are more and more ways for everyone to feel and stay connected, yet most feel even more distant and excluded. The real question is: Have all of these apps helped or harmed our culture?

When you are sitting at lunch with your friends, how many of them have their phones out? Instead of talking to the people who are around right at that moment, they have their phones glued to their hands and their eyes fixed on their screens, checking all of their apps while trying to keep up with the endless number of incoming notifications.

When you feel awkward in a social situation, what is the first reaction? I bet you wouldn’t have guessed this, but it is to pull out your phone and act like you have something important to do on it. After coming out of interviews or meeting a parent, want to know the first comment I always receive? “Wow, you can hold a conversation and keep eye contact for more than five minutes. You can look me in the eye and be present in that moment. That’s impressive.”

How is it that we have so many different ways to contact each other, yet when people are face-to-face, they have nothing to say? How many people analyze every text they send out, and believe that it is the end of the world when a double-text is sent! There is an etiquette that is expected, and it goes without saying that it simply must be followed. For example, “don’t respond too soon,” “who should text who first” and if your selfie game is not “on fleek” then you might as well toss that phone in the trash. And if you do not know what “on fleek” means go look it up … I had to.

How is your “insta” game? Are you viewed as artsy or hipster? Trust me, there is a difference — I just don’t happen to know what it is. How many followers do you have? You need to reach a certain number or you are just not “cool.” How many likes does your profile picture have? How many friends do you have on Facebook? Are you even friends with all the people on your Facebook? How many of them do you keep in contact with and call and wish a happy birthday? Have you checked your GroupMe today? Well I am sure there are over 100 unread, pointless messages.

The sad truth is that everyone is searching for reassurance and is seeking a number that proves that they have worth. The majority of youth today are trying to create a social media image for themselves, and they must make sure that they document every event so that people can know that they had fun last night. Has anyone heard of the term “FOMO”? Well, it means “fear of missing out,” and this fear is what drives people to go out for that second night in a row, even though they do not want to.

Do not get me wrong, I am not anti-technology, and I am an offender of most of what I wrote about. I am just frustrated with how the expectation is to be always checking your phone. We are all on a leash, and most of us don’t even realize it! It is completely taboo not to have a phone — you absolutely must. It isn’t even a question. If you disconnect your phone, you disconnect yourself from what seems to be the entire world.

All I am saying is that you should try to be present in the present, and when it is time for bed, you should shut off that other world that consumes your soul during the day. Leave your phone in a drawer, go for a walk, breathe in some fresh air and have a deeper thought than what you are going to tweet about today.

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