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Smartphones and diminishing creativity

Haleigh McGill
Haleigh McGill

Smartphones have enhanced our lives by connecting us instantaneously to our immediate surroundings and those across oceans, and has truly brought us into the age of convenience. The ability to Google anything from wherever you are in itself has certainly made our day-to-day easier, and it can also settle debates between peers about which dinosaur was really the biggest to walk this earth millions of years ago or where we can expect to our national debt to lie in the next few years. Smartphones keep us connected to the past, present and the future, but on the flipside, they may be disconnecting us from ourselves.

One of the predominate reasons for pulling out a smartphone is to relieve boredom with access to thousands of apps, contacts and the Internet. But as our boredom diminishes after countless rounds of Trivia Crack or catching up on The Chive, unfortunately so does our creativity.

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In an article regarding smartphones and boredom from Geek Wire, digital life columnist Mónica Guzman wrote, “When we lack an easy stream of satisfying activity and are forced to let our minds wander un-stimulated, we end up getting more creative. … Our phones turn the task of relieving boredom into a reaction rather than an exercise.”

When we were children and bored out of our minds, a popular move was going outside and seeing what the world had to offer that day. Now, as adults, it’s easy to get stuck in the rut of the digital world and the adventure that curing boredom used to be seems to disappear.

Why is this a bad thing, if smartphones have become such a normal part of our lives? First, it causes us to settle for what activity is easiest when we are bored instead of searching for what is most fulfilling, and second, if you think about it in terms of opportunity costs, you forgo a lot of creative opportunities when you decide to kill an hour playing games or perusing Facebook on your phone. You could have gotten lost in a book, zentangled a page in your notebook while listening to your favorite playlist, or you could have planned an awesome party or epic road trip while taking a walk with your best friends.

What we don’t often realize is that creativity and adventure are what gives us a true break from the real world, not our smartphones. Coming up with exciting ideas, writing music or stories, planning events, having an impromptu dance party or exploring the outdoors leaves a person feeling more satisfied for a longer period of time than messing with a phone ever will. It’s sort of like choosing between junk food and healthy food when you experience the midday crash: The sugar would satisfy you for the moment, but not really stop the crash, whereas eating something healthy would perk you up and leave you feeling full for longer. Of course, every once in a while it doesn’t hurt to choose the junk food, or choose to take a break from your day in the form of playing with your smartphone. But, in the words of Aristotle, “moderation in all things” is the key to human excellence.

Collegian Assistant Opinion Editor Haleigh McGill can be reached at letters@collegian.com, or on Twitter @HaleighMcGill.

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