Look Up

In recent weeks, I’ve noticed myself forming a habit I don’t really care for. It’s actually I tend to critique others, especially when I see it regularly all around my college campus. This habit? Texting or checking my phone while walking between classes.

Okay, it certainly isn’t as bad as texting and driving. And if you have a busy schedule, that time in between activities may be the only chance to check for any notifications. The sheer fact it has become so normal to walk around with your face glued to a screen is the problem.

Admittedly, glancing at a phone is a great way to avoid potentially awkward situations. We’ve all done it. Not a fan of random eye contact with strangers? Here’s a valid reason to avoid it. But I have become a huge proponent of the phrase “it’s only awkward if you make it awkward.” Using your phone regularly is crutch for us to avoid growing as a person. Personally, yes, it’s great having a go-to way to escape unnecessary interaction, especially if I’m “peopled out,” but on just a regular basis, they take us away from potentially memorable moments. The countless time I spend on my phone all blurs together, but the moments I share with others will forever be ingrained in my memory. Social media can help me get to those moments and keep in touch with loved ones, but they by no means replace the real thing.

I have also found myself considering how using my phone between classes can make me feel more productive, making the most of every spare minute toward practical purposes (as if social media is a slightly practical purpose). I’m a workaholic as it is. Somehow I can rationalize that any moment I’m not looking at a screen to do something is a wasted opportunity. I forget how important it truly is to take a break, even if it’s just a few spare seconds. But I later regret those moments, thinking of the nature and people I passed by. What’s more productive here? Does having a tangible way to track how active I am, with posts or tweets, overshadow my own moments of appreciation for the world around me?

I try to think back to when I was younger and didn’t have a smart phone. It’s hard for me to recreate my satisfaction of resting my eyes upon anything beyond a screen or something to amuse myself. When at home, I’ve always felt awkward eating meals or sitting at the table without a TV on or reading material in front of me. I now realize I just like focusing on other things other than the deep realm of introspective thoughts that often go into ED thoughts and self-critique. But from an outside perspective, I’m choosing mediocre entertainment over devoting my attention to connecting with others. That’s a rash statement to make, especially when I place such a high value on the important people in my life, but from a passing glance, it sure doesn’t seem like it.

Even though I find myself checking my phone often when I’m alone, I hate doing it with other people because I know how annoying it is. If I’m choosing to spend my time with you, you better be all there. Phones make communication and productivity much easier, but they by no means our only or best resource.

While I wouldn’t necessarily call myself addicted to a smart phone and social media, some people are. They can’t go a second without knowing what is going on and what they might be missing. Maybe not every second, but pretty close. The few minutes walking around campus might not seem like a big deal, but perhaps this time can be spent in a more fulfilling way.

I’m not addicted, but my phone certainly plays a key role in my day. Every morning, the first thing I do is check my phone. And it’s also the last thing I do before going to bed and turning on a podcast to fall asleep to. I usually like myself tweeting daily or at least checking on all of my random profiles. Trust me, I have plenty of those. But I fear myself and others reaching a point where phones no longer accompany our lives, but are our lives. Some have already reached that point, but the reminder of how fulfilled I already am, how little I need a distraction to detract myself from everyday life, keeps me in balance. As if I didn’t have enough to balance and think about already. Got to love technology, right?

Although my thoughts on this broad topic seem to ramble, my main concern rings true: phones are no replacement for the changing foliage into fiery hues. They nowhere near compare to a shared laugh with others, especially a laugh that leaves you in tears and your belly aching later. Phones do not mimic the joy of traveling to a new place, even if that place is just around the corner.

Life is great as is. Technology is here to improve ourselves, not overpower. Our world will never become like the futuristic utopias overcome with constant technology and robots doing all of our bidding. (Well, as far I know, and hopefully not in my lifetime). You’re the one in control of your life, not a hard drive or glowing screen. So look up and see what the world has to offer.

Take care, and keep the faith. -Allie

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