BreakingModern — I know what you’re thinking — it’s pretty hypocritical to be punching out an article of this kind on a computer, of all things, with Twitter open and my smartphone by my side. Technology can be a great thing, when used properly and practically. But instead of bringing us together, it’s tearing us apart.
As a millennial, I’m supposed to embrace technology as the be-all and end-all. Yet I have seen how technology disconnects people from those around them, and my opinion has soured significantly. And I can’t honestly say I haven’t been part of the problem.
Social Crutches Not So Sturdy
How many times have you seen a table full of people at a restaurant who, instead of socializing with the people around them, are immersed in their gadgets? I see it every day, even in places like Hawaii, supposedly a place of rejuvenation and withdrawal from the struggles of everyday life.
Rampant use of technology, smartphones in particular, is plaguing our society, and it isn’t just killing drivers. It’s killing real connections with those around us. We’ve forgone personal interaction for the gratification of getting 150 likes on an Instagram post from people you kind of maybe knew in fourth grade.
When used as a social crutch, social media and smartphones prevent us from forming close, interpersonal relationships and develop crucial social skills. Why try to engage with those around you when you can get cheap laughs from a Vine video or a meme? Why have to entertain your kids with conversation when you can give them a tablet and keep them quiet instead?
Author Predicted This in … 1953?
It’s becoming a societal evil right before our eyes, just as Ray Bradbury’s novel Fahrenheit 451 predicted back in 1953 with the dawn of television. Bradbury’s novel tells of an era where outlawed physical books are burned and people spend all day with their “family” on television. Pretty eerie, right? My heart sinks every time I see people using phones as social crutches and anti-social devices because it conjures up thoughts of Bradbury’s world.
Surely, we haven’t reached this bleak state yet, but eventually, it could become something like this. As technology companies seek to solve our first world problems instead of real issues, quitting this technology is becoming more and more difficult by the minute. Your mobile device has become indispensable. And it’s hard to quit things like Facebook and Instagram when it’s become your main method of communication.
Changing this culture will take time. Technology has certainly provided great societal benefits (like globalization and the expedition of commerce). But glorification of tech needs to stop.
We all really need to take time for some reflection: do we value a flashy hunk of metal and wires over our loved ones? In 20 years, will we remember a funny Snapchat that our friend sent us, or an experience with those we cherish? Only time will tell.
What I Try (And Want) to Do
- Goal: Eventually quit social media and smartphones
- Currently: Don’t take my phone out when I’m with company, unless absolutely necessary
- Use a clock (or an egg timer) to limit my non-work screen time
I really want to pledge to quit all social media and get a dumbphone and I know I should, but I really can’t — yet. Results of a smartphone detox have been promising for others and I really should partake in a trial (like this). But it’s hard to pull the plug in a connected world.
When I’m out with my friends, I never pull out my phone unless it’s absolutely crucial. I love my HTC One M8, but there is a time and place for it. However useful our phones can be, those texts and tweets really can wait three hours, but too many people have become so inured to technology that they think that they can’t.
Teens spend an average of eight hours a day on screens, roughly half of their waking hours. Yikes. Using a timer to limit screen time to say, two hours, would greatly reduce wasted time on your phone, just aimlessly scrolling through news feeds.
At the very least, these would be a good step forward for American society. Everyone, myself included, has a long way to go — but you just have to be brave enough to try it.
For BMod, I’m Ben Leonard.
Featured Image Credit: Girl talking on the phone. Wikimedia Commons
Screenshot Image Credit: BMod Staff