Let’s Turn off Snapchat and Have a Real Chat

By Alex Edel

Are you addicted to your phone? Think about it for a second. How much of your day do you spend glued to your smartphone, checking emails, texting friends and reading articles? I know that when all is said and done, I am guilty of spending a good chunk of every single day on my phone. Before this winter term, I had never really thought of the effects that this obsession might have on my relationships with other people.

The majority of tables at Proctor sport iPhones carefully placed next to peoples’ meals. This technology stares up at the diners, tempting, distracting and reassuring all at the same time. In fact, I cannot remember the last time when I enjoyed a dinner in Proctor and did not look at my phone once. Snapchat, texting and the newest trend of Tinder have become intertwined in our socialization. Now we don’t even have to look up from our phones to talk about cute boys. We can just use Tinder to scan through boys in our area!

Don’t get me wrong, it is really fun and I can’t imagine life without my phone. Yet, after taking “Community and Connectedness” this past winter term, I have begun to think about the possibility that while my phone allows me to maintain old friendships across the country, I may be stopping myself short when it comes to true deep connections I could be making with the people sitting right across from me in the “real world.” In other words, is checking my Facebook in the middle of dinner to stay connected with old friends taking away from building stronger connections with those seated in front of me?

Throughout the winter term class I had a deep-seated belief that things were not as bad as they seem; our generation can still have deep relationships and connections like the generations before us. Surely, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and texting only add to our relationships instead of necessarily defining them?

As the course went on, I began to think more and more about the place of technology in my own life and the effect it has on my relationships. Whenever I’m alone or in an uncomfortable position, I feel a tug to my phone — it offers a sort of protective shield that I can hide behind. What if I were to leave it in my room and actually have to learn how to deal with uncomfortable situations that I will certainly come across in my day-to-day life? My guess is that I would actually have to interact with fellow students and thereby meet new people.

While we certainly become connected and stay connected using electronic devices, it is important to make sure that they do not disrupt the human interchange. I can organize a lunch with friends, but what good is that when I am on my phone talking to other friends while at lunch? I should instead be engaging with my fellow lunchers in order to foster those “real time” relationships.

But I do have hope for our generation. We are not at the point where we are so addicted to technology that we rely on it to completely fulfill our social lives. I think that when used properly, the technology in electronic devices provides us with the opportunity to do great things and to improve our lives. It is amazing and awe-inspiring, but we must be cautiously aware of our reliance on it.

In Proctor, try not picking up your phone for a whole dinner and you will realize how bizarre this seems. Or, just look around and take note of how many people are consistently on theirs. It is impractical and foolish to advocate a decrease or a halt in new technology and its usage, but being aware of how it affects my own relationships has forced me to learn how to strike a balance. I have made amazing connections with great people here in college and I want to ensure that I make the most of the time I have with these people — the people right in front of me.

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