I can just about remember a time when phones weren’t such a big thing like they are today, and without sounding like some kind of luddite inspired liberal or technophobe harboring an all out irrational hostility to the modern world – love them or hate them, I would be lost without my smartphone.
We spend most of our time glued to our phones, checking our social media accounts, watching movies, checking for notifications, browse and read the internet, text, use an app or listen to music, keeping abreast of the latest Z-listed celeb news and even engage in an old fashioned “telephone call” now and again.
A few of us are familiar with some of the following scenarios:
- Couples and families in a restaurant with their smartphones at hand – checking messages, emails and social networks, checking their phones repeatedly throughout the meal.
- Shoppers and commuters standing in line, people criss crossing busy streets, cyclists and drivers whose eyes are on their phones instead of their surroundings.
- People walking down the street with their eyes on their phones, bumping into others – instead of observing the world around them.
- Children (and parents and even their parents) playing with a smartphone or some other device – rather than observing and learning from the world around them.
Though you could say that it’s all about choice and not the fault of the technology which allows it or which causes this kind of compulsive behavior – but over the past decade alone, technology has made tremendous strides in it’s complexity and integration into modern society. Our smartphones can offer us the convenience and assistance of no end of apps which make your phone seem like a pocket sized information bank. If only my thoughts weren’t distracted by frequently checking my smartphone caused by carrying around this powerful device with me all day long – my phone has just about managed to have this ability to distract myself constantly. I don’t think I have become a slave to my smartphone yet – I still want to experience life and spend time with the people and friends that matter to me. I am not completely unaware of the wonderful experiences that real world has to offer. If it wasn’t for the constant bombardment of bells, buzzes and chimes that alert me to messages which I feel obligated and compelled to view and respond to immediately. Sometimes it gets so bad that I grow uncomfortable with any 30-second span of hands-free idleness.
Like my computer, I need to put my phone into some sort of sleep mode and just leave it alone – which might be a good hallmark of a healthy relationship with my phone, rather than my phone being something that I can’t live without. Unfortunately the smartphones and other technological devices that we use in a world where constant communication is a handy accessory – has made them become a second skin. Even with people I consider my best friends, it’s hard to think of a circumstance where not one of us touched their smartphone for one reason or another. Finding a balance between using our smartphones and being connected to the digital world with being able to comfortably turn off and disconnect is a main struggle underlying the current smartphone mania. I need to go back to talking face-to-face with all of my friends, to look them in the eye. To eat real food instead of photographing it. Not to drive into oncoming traffic while looking at my smartphone screen. Perhaps one day, I will be glad to be back in a world where I never had or depended on a smartphone. In a world that beats – waiting for the notification alert telling me that I exist.