I must admit that it has become unsettling to walk into a classroom to see 25 college students’ heads bent over their desks, eyes glued to their phones. Even more unsettling, I often find myself in that same position.
Though technological evolution has brought plenty of positive change, I have recently noticed increased concern about our cultural addiction to technology and its effect on our face-to-face interactions. This tool originally intended to connect humans to one another has built a wall of isolation, seemingly causing a decrease in social skills and an increase in loneliness. Every day I see myself and my friends becoming more and more dependent on a smartphone for human connection rather than physical interpersonal interaction. It was because of this observation that I started to join the talk of how technology was negatively controlling our lives.
Technology and the era of smartphones have changed the way we connect, and we can reasonably say they have negatively impacted our communication. As a result, the classic flip phone is coming back into vogue, perhaps because it offers fewer distractions to real interaction.
I have seen many friends at Harding decide to make the switch from smartphone to flip phone in efforts to free themselves from the bondage of social technological norms. Some see them as campus heroes, but to those who can’t imagine an hour without Internet connection, they seem like outsiders. I see the flip phone movement as an action against cultural expectations and an effort to restore a more rich and intimate communication style.
But after contemplating getting a flip phone because I was feeling guilty about my wasted time, I came to this conclusion: though some would say that technology controls us now, we have given it that control. While switching to a flip phone sounds like a good idea, I think the issue of technology’s negative impacts speaks to a deeper problem.
We always need someone or something to blame for our unhappiness or guilt, and I believe that technology has become a part of that blame game. It has helped us make excuses for our lack of motivation to connect with others.
Perhaps we should no longer allow technology to take the fall for our unhappiness and lack of connection. It is time to empower one another to take responsibility for our choices.
We control each decision we make with smartphones and other technology. Humans do not have to play the role of the victim to technology because we feel enslaved to extensive connection.
Maybe instead of spending energy raging about how technology is controlling our lives, we should consider how to reconnect with friends and family in simple conversations and quality time. By understanding that we don’t need the crutch of technology — and that we can choose to look up from our phones — we might be surprised at the genuine connections we could make.