Can we ever really disconnect?

Shanel Hughes
Shanel Hughes

As each new class comes into college, there are different expectations for each.

With technology changing so rapidly, professors can’t even joke about floppy disk without getting a complete blank stare back. The classes after me and each class after them is expected to enter college with at least two to four different types of technology. Two to four. And I myself am guilty of this. With my cell phone, laptop, tablet, and iPod, it is practically impossible for me to ignore people in a “technological” sense, while always possible for me to ignore people in real life.

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With every email, text message, phone call, and all other notifications, sometimes I just want to invest in a sledgehammer for a little peace.

But, as much as technology is the problem, being without a smart phone for a couple weeks had me feeling out of the loop. When my phone broke and the replacement was a flip phone, I felt like it would be a good break from the constant dying battery of a smart phone.

And, it was. The battery never died. It pinched my finger every time I flipped it open and I had to re-learn how to type on a non-QWERTY board. It was nice. Until I started RA training and kept hearing phrase, “Did you get my email?” Emails. Sent after I left my room with my laptop and tablet. While flip phones are great, accessing the internet on them can be tricky and is a task only for those with a patient soul.

No, I didn’t get their email. Their group text wouldn’t load and neither would their pictures. With the expectation of being able to respond back quickly because of our access to technology, people were often asking and wondering why I had not responded. And, being someone who always tries to respond back in a timely fashion, it left me feeling a little anxious.

So who or what is the problem? Are we the problem? Because we are always so available, responding back five seconds after we receive something. Are we dependent on technology to keep our lives in order? To help us remember birthdays on Facebook and what our friends look like through quick, five second Snapchats? Are we able to turn off, disconnect, and still function normally in today’s society? Are landlines still a real thing?

Yes. Landlines are still a real thing. Yes. You could turn off, disconnect and still function normally in today’s society. Would it be easy? No. Would I ever do it? No. But, I think it is important to disconnect sometimes, for your sanity. Our brains are overstimulated. They are always working overtime to decipher some deep tweet that nobody understands. From the moment we wake up, to those last minutes before sleep most of us are using some type of technology. Nine out of 10 of us probably sleep with our cell phone right by our beds, just in case Instagram gets a new update.

Our lives are run by technology and the only break we get is when we can’t find WiFi.

Technology is great. It also sucks. It makes me more available then I ever want to be and exposes me to way too many things I could have gone my entire life without seeing. Disconnecting is hard, and I usually only do it when I forget to pay my phone bill each month, but now it is time to consciously disconnect. It is time to re-enter the world. To actually pay attention in class and when your friends are talking. To listen to other people’s conversations instead of those annoying Pandora ads. To remember phone numbers.

My first step will be sleeping with my phone away from my bed. I know that being on my phone right before I go to sleep has to affect my sleep cycle. That bright screen and overload of information. It is just too exciting and stimulating. And, that is exactly what you shouldn’t be before bed. You should be relaxed and ready for dream adventures.

Our addiction to technology is only going to get worse. With my two-year-old niece being able to unlock my phone, identify her favorite game and begin playing it, I know that reading books made of paper to her each day is important for more than just her education. We are the only ones who can protect ourselves from technology and its menacing grasp. And, with all the hacks and mess-ups that occur within technology, I think we better start considering other options.

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Shanel Hughes wants to disconnect for just a little while. Feedback can be sent to letters@collegian.com.

In Brief:

There are pros and cons to being in constant communication.

Try, just sometimes, to disconnect for a while and see what you notice.

Protect yourselves from the menacing grasp of technology.