How often do you find yourself take your phone with you to the bathroom? Or having it with you at the dinner table? Or maybe even in your lap as your driving? I think it’s safe to say our cell phones have become a type of security blanket for us all to the point where we feel naked when we forget it at home or in the car.
I often talk to my parents and the generation gap is so large now that you’d think we come form two different worlds. I guess in a sense we do. They come form a generation where cell phones didn’t even exists in their childhood and letters were the best way to profess your love. Television was only afforded by the middle and upperclass and the only thing everyone watched was the few syndicated shows on the limited channels that existed back then. How far we’ve come! With thousands of channels on Direct TV dedicated to every hobby out there, whether its porn, sports, animals, cooking and so much more, the choices have become so numerous that it desensitizes us to TV shows in general. We become bored with everything in minutes and our impatience level has risen as a whole. I believe this is very correlated with the ever growing use of cells phone in our every day personal lives.
Cell phones make life easier in so many ways. We would be lost without them. Controlling your home alarm system and cameras with a click of a button from miles away, being able to keep track of our children and pets, allowing business communications to break barriers it never has before and the list is endless. But all those benefits come at a cost. We do everything on our phones. They are glued to our hands so much that we have to make a conscious effort to put them away. It has created problems in relationships and ruined interpersonal communication skills forever. Children often use them to do homework and cheat on tests and the learning curve goes out the window. If you take a phone or calculator away and ask a student in their senior year of high school to do a semi-complicated pre-calculus math problem, they probably would be lost. We literally depend on our phones for everything! From cooking and makeup tutorials to the GPS navigation, to making friends and finding love and everything in between.
Cell phones control us and we are ignorantly unaware. Just because we have the power to tun them off and put them away doesn’t mean we actually have the willpower to actually do so. More and more people feel less guilty about interrupting conversations to check a text or an email. It is becoming socially acceptable and in turn changing the way we communicate with one another. In a 2015 study by the Pew Research Center, 89 percent of cellphone owners said they had used their phones during the last social gathering they attended. But they weren’t happy about it; 82 percent of adults felt that the way they used their phones in social settings hurt the conversation. So even though we are aware of this, we still continue to let phone interfere in our private lives. Why is that?
In my opinion, cell phones provide a sense of security and confidence in ones self when that is not present in the individuals character. You can always turn your attention somewhere else. You can always be heard. You never have to be bored. For example, have you gone to a social gathering alone and instantly started staring at your phone as soon as you walked in the door? I know I have. You don’t want to sit there twiddling your thumbs until you finally see someone you know or until someone sparks up a conversation with you. So you look at your phone and pretend like your busy and not uncomfortable at all. Now sure, there are the social butterflies that walk into a party and yell “I HAVE ARRIVED” but most of us don’t have that type of bravado. I’ve found myself as social events in a corner starring at my phone thinking, “you chicken, how are you gonna make new friends looking so unapproachable.” No one wants to approach someone that looks like they are in the middle of something and lets be real, most of us are checking Facebook or Instagram or worse selfie-ing (i know that’s not a word).
Most people today, especialy the younger generation is more comfortable having a conversation through text then in person or on the phone. I have literally seen people eating dinner together texting each other instead of communicating verbally. It’s insanity in my opinion but it’s the word we live in. Even what we speak about has changed due to cell phone usage. We rarely have deep, meaningful conversations anymore. Instead, we keep subjects light and surface level so we don’t feel bad about dropping in and out of the conversation when our cell phones light up. We have less empathy for one another and what’s important and it shows. We find ways to replace real conversation with that of a digital one. But how are you supposed to learn about human nature and what makes someone smile and sad if we are unable to pay attention or even see their body language, posture, tone of voice and even facial expression. I can’t tell you how many times my texts were misinterpreted or I have misinterpreted what someone else was trying to say. That’s why now I will only have serious conversations in person or through a phone call. It’s not worth the misunderstanding just because we are scared to say something to someone’s face.
This is why I strongly disagree with the though of giving young children iPhones. I understand them being able to call their parents in times of need or an emergency. But why on earth does a 9 year old need to be texting their friends and have social media. Kids need real life social interaction to develop interpersonal skills. That in my opinion, is the parents taking the easy way out and preoccupying their kids so they can focus elsewhere. I actually think more iPads are being purchased for children than actual adults but I could be wrong.
Technology is advancing at lighting speed and the world is rapidly changing with it. I think phones bring wonderful benefits into our lives but we need to be more mindful of our intentions and uses of them. I guess that’s part of the reason I love the outdoors so much. Camping forces me to break away from the online feed and be true to my thoughts. In solitude we can be true to ourselves, authentic and pure in thought and intentions. Being phone-less, we are forced to be alone and realize our comfort level with that. When we are happy and content with ourselves, we stop trying to turn people into what we want or better yet need them to be. Loneliness is everyone’s fear deep down. Thats why solitary confinement is a form of punishment in prison. However, being less depended on a phone will not lead to loneliness if we work on building personal connections with those around us.
I hope this article reminds us to put the phone down and have some real experiences, live in the moment and connect with people on a real basis.