I swear I hold my iPhone tighter than I hold on to my fiance these days. It does everything, answers everything and holds everything together for my life when I can’t.
The thought of losing that rectangular life guide is equivalent to losing a friend.
Pathetic, I know.
But try to stand up against me and admit that your phone hasn’t gotten you through some tough times.
Phones these days can organize our whereabouts, tell us the weather without stepping out the door and even entertain us as we kill time in waiting rooms and avoid elevator discussion talk.
We resort to our phones in awkward silences as though our reliable friend is a legitimate excuse for social awkwardness and anxiety.
My question here is this: are our phones efficient? Or do they waste time in the long run? And if they are saving us time, are they helping us in other areas that are beneficial to our well-being? Does it help our social status? Our relations with our family? Our success? Our education?
Complex questions, but to all of them, the answer is yes… and no.
As far as planning goes, I can’t get anything done unless I have a pencil in my hand and a trusted planner I carry around. The thought of putting such information in my phone worries me that I could lose it. With as much faith as I have in my phone, I still have an eerie feeling that it’ll fail me. Yet you can’t find me a block from my house without it glued to my palm.
What about it makes it so magnetizing?
Those dang apps. They do it all.
According to Nielsen, the average person has 29 apps on their phone and spends an average of 30 hours and 15 minutes using apps in a single year.
In all that time, you could have saved 26 kittens from a tree or helped 47 people cross the street — but really. Does that sound like a time saver to you?
How about with our social life? How much time do we spend with our friends compared to the hours we Snapchat, post photos, tag each other in statuses and tweet about our get-togethers? At some point, we reached a common agreement that things aren’t official unless everyone and their mothers know about it.
Sure, you’re saving yourself from ever scrapbooking your good times, but you have torn down your wall of privacy and wasted the extra time you could have spent REALLY being with someone — not glancing at your phone, ignoring a conversation with someone else.
As much as this pains me to utter, the cause of this app epidemic and the results are equal. Laziness.
We as people prefer things to be easier, but we benefit nothing by living that way. Granted, we are obtaining information faster and Googling our constant questions at lightning speed, but we aren’t growing or connecting at the rate we could if we set our phones down.
Same with families.
We are at a dangerous point now where I can walk into a restaurant and see couples on “dates” gazing over their phones and fathers with their daughters who are unable to set their devices down.
When we choose to Facebook and tweet with someone there, we are speaking distaste. We are non-verbally communicating dissatisfaction with our current circumstance. This, in turn, tells someone they are not worth your time.
How about education?
Well, this puts us at a crossroad. Over the last 20 years, technology has curved academic excellence through the roof, and we are embarking on new knowledge daily. So what are the negatives? The distraction to acquiring it! Even as I write this piece, social media keeps insistently sending things my way and distracting me. I have become tied to my devices indefinitely and find it difficult to make space.
As for education, another word comes to mind: cheating. I dare you to find a recent college grad that didn’t use technology to cheat once in his classes. “I’ll just look up one answer,” or “Let’s take this test together,” or even, “What was on the test you took yesterday?” We’ve all done it.
I’d be lying if I said technology didn't have its place. It’s changing lives, solving problems and saving us time in important areas. But I also wouldn’t be telling the whole truth if I left out the fact that it’s hurting us. It’s teaching us to devalue real communication and to be centered on self-promotion and multitasking.
In this generation, we have such an opportunity to dissolve all of the hard work our forefathers put into making the sit-down meal, the coffee date and the conversation with a stranger we just met. Instead of tugging your phone out of your bag as soon as you’re by yourself, make an effort to stop. Make an effort to build a relationship with someone — even yourself — because that phone is going to fail you. I mean, people will fail you too, but that characterizes a relationship. A real relationship.
So next time boredom or anxiety sweeps over you, fight grabbing your phone to see how it can entertain you, gratify you or inform you.
Intentionally drive your attention to a person, not a pixel.