By Quinn Eaton
Now before I dive right in, let me preface my thoughts by saying this: I am just as guilty as the next person when it comes to spending time on my device. I am connected through three or four forms of social media, I'll text someone that is within walking distance; I am in no way better or any more advanced when it comes to staying busy with technology. However, I will say that I am aware of the issue, and I have made a lot of strides to mend the problem, and let me tell you, our society has a problem.
I recently read an article titled "The Effect of the Presence of your Cellphone on your Brain," and my phone was sitting right next to my laptop on my desk. As I read on the screen "even having your phone within reach can impair cognitive abilities," I sat there continuing to scroll through the passage while staying attentive to my phone incase some sort of notification or text illuminated the screen.
It is not a smart device, a marvel of modern technology, a connecting point for two people across the globe; devices are distractions. Sure, they can perform tasks that were never possible before, and can allow two people with thousands of miles in between them to discuss their favorite gingerbread recipes, but do you know what the number one use for a cellphone is? A distraction. Don't want to do homework? Get on your phone. Alone? No you are not! "Connect" with people on your phone! Sitting in a room full of individuals waiting for class to start? Better not bother them right? It would be better to not converse with anyone, and rather mindlessly scroll through something meaningless.
The devices have stripped the basis of society of having conversation, and has also transformed what used to be normal into the abnormal. Now if you go up to a person and start a conversation with them, they are quickly caught off guard and think to themselves "who is this crazy person speaking to me?" I will often be waiting to meet some friends, or maybe passing time before a class starts, and I will be by myself. I feel the urge to get my phone out, to text someone, or to check social media, and I fight it. I stand there with just myself and my thoughts, and I relish that time of self reflection. However, if someone were to look at me during this time, no phone or laptop diverting my attention, just a guy staring off in the distance, that person would be confused as to what I was doing. They might even come up to me and ask if I am okay (which has happened before). The fact that I was not looking into a phone, a computer, or any sort of screen, alarmed someone to the point where they inquired if I was "okay. That is comical to me, because as you walk and look around at everyone's eyes glued to their screens, I think asking one of those phone zombies if THEY were okay would be more warranted.
Conversation is most definitely dead. Often people will sit with friends and family, and will be laughing and having great conversations and asking questions, however they are doing that with people they are not actually with, but rather the people on the other end of their phone. I will be eating lunch with friends, and if there's a lull in a conversation, the phone is pulled out. I will spend time with family, yet we all are gathered around a television screen, and then on top of that we are checking our devices. A study by Ofcom published on The Telegraph stated that "One-third of people say members of their household sit together as a family in the same room to watch their favourite shows. But while parents watch something on television, one child might be streaming a show on a laptop and another with headphones plugged in to their mobile phone."
There is no conversation anymore, and if there is, it is a struggle because we are all accustomed to conversation via technology and not face to face. Pulling your phone out when you are with someone is subtly (or maybe even blatantly) conveying to them that your device is more important to you then they are. In order to connect with those people we love and care about, we have to disconnect. Plain and simple. Next time you feel the urge to retreat to your safety net of comfort that is your phone, swim against the current and leave it in your pocket. Phones and other devices are things that we believe we cannot live without, but in all honesty, we will not be able to actually live and converse to the best of our ability until we are without them.
Disconnect to connect.
Photo Credit: reddit.com
References: thetelegraph.com, www.labroots.com