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Connecting or Disconnecting
August 15, 2014 - Melissa Scholke
I swore I’d never own a smart phone unless it was absolutely necessary. I refused to become entangled by all of the hype or to succumb to the appeal of the endless stream of apps. To those who may read this with skepticism, I promise I’m, in fact, a twenty-something college student. When I previously embarked upon one of my anti-smart phone discussions, my words received strange looks from both my friends and my older brothers. My brothers playfully accused me of “trying to be a hipster” or “deliberately trying to be different.” My siblings proceeded to attempt to sell me on all of the benefits a smart phone offers. They emphasized the phone’s convenience, its versatility, and most importantly, its storage capacity for music (I’m a self-proclaimed music junkie, so that was definitely appealing).
I agreed with each point my brothers rose. However, doubt about the phone’s capabilities wasn’t the factor preventing me from trading in my old, blue flip phone for a shiny, new smart phone. As I continue to dart my eyes towards the lime green iPhone resting on the corner of the desk, I feel now would be an excellent time to admit I caved about a week ago. To quote a text I sent to my friend: “I just sold my soul to the Apple company for a lime green iPhone!”
I may have just recently joined the horde of iPhone users. However, the same pre-iPhone concerns I possessed still remain present in my mind. First, I’ll admit I’m a klutz. My personal track record is roughly one tumble every week, and my school laptop recently required repairs due to a collision with the sidewalk this past winter when I fell out of a bus. Secondly, I’ve always tended to live by the mentality of “use something until it’s ready to fall apart.” Considering smart phones’ fragile reputations and my extreme lack of equilibrium, I feel like my phone may not possess a very long life span.
Thirdly, I worry about transforming into a smart phone zombie. I see them walking around campus back at school and here in Iron Mountain. Everywhere I go, I see individuals with their eyes plastered to a tiny screen or with the phone glued onto their hand like an additional appendage. At a recent bonfire, there were moments when each person, myself included, dropped out of the conversation and ignored the crackling fire in front of us and the starry sky above to stare at the glowing rectangles in our hands. There was also the consistent reverberation of alert pings. Instead of fully enjoying one of the few remaining summer nights, our attention was divided.
While I applaud the wonderful attributes of smart phones and their ability to maintain ties with friends and family, phone etiquette needs to become more prevalent in our society. Like everything else, playing with our phones has a proper time and place. Texting should never occur when driving or when an individual is stalled at a stop light. In the middle of conversations, one’s attention should focus upon the discussion at hand—not scrolling through social media apps or answering texts. (I’m particularly guilty of this last one.) Smart phones are spectacular at helping us stay connected with the people in our lives, but we also need to ensure we don’t disconnect from the world around us.
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