We have all heard it before: smartphones are causing the younger generations, especially the Millennials, to seek out instant gratification and a sense of security through digital connectivity capabilities.
It is like a nervous twitch; we obsessively push the home button on our phones throughout the day only to repeatedly illuminate a screen without any new notifications. Even when we are not necessarily waiting for a phone call or a certain message, we find something to do with our phones. We devote our utmost attention to editing and glamorizing pictures, crafting a like-worthy Facebook post or sending novel length text messages to friends when it would be more beneficial to discuss the matter in person.
We constantly seek out the next Instagram post, or the next weekend’s plans or the next conversation. Those next things are exciting, but maybe our general satisfaction depends a little too heavily on technology and the way it keeps us partially rooted in the future. The value and possibility of the present lessens the more we tune it out. We get out what we put into social experiences, and if our phones dominate our attention then we’re missing out on the aspects of the human condition that connect us all together.
Mobile technology has become a bit of a crutch, and although it is easier than socializing and being completely absorbed in the moment, the benefits and possibilities that our smartphones present are still less than those we can find within our unedited, uninterrupted real life experiences.
It seems like we also need that digital component to avoid feeling stuck in one place. If we are constantly checking our phones, or waiting for that text message or making that phone call, then we are always looking for someone else to see or something else to do.
We have become impatient. Our shortening attention spans and increasing, untimely smartphone activity could be detrimental to our relationships and the way we conduct ourselves in social settings.
There is a delicate balance between relying on technology and seizing the day that we have yet to reach. If you are with someone or a group of people, they deserve your attention as you deserve theirs. We should put the phones away and engage in genuine, purposeful interaction.
I cannot count how many times both my friends and I have looked up from our phones while hanging out together, or even while we are in class, saying “Wait, what just happened?” It’s silly, really. We miss out on things because we are staring at a lifeless screen.
I am not saying that we should stop using our smartphones. I am saying that I don’t always want to see snapshots of peoples’ lives through a filter, I want the real deal — the natural glow of raw experience. I don’t always want our social endeavors to be reducible to a status update. More often than not, I want us to be completely dedicated to and captivated by the present. Forget about simply passing the time on our various apps, and focus more on fulfilling it.
Collegian Columnist Haleigh McGill can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.