I have been without a phone this past week. Apparently, I dropped it and left it underneath a seat in my dad’s car, where it had fallen. As a result, I have been without the ability to text people, call people or check Instagram. I can only access Facebook and emails while in front of a computer. This makes certain things, like trying to set up interviews for a story or coordinating with academic advisers, very difficult. I have been resigned to using the computers in the library on almost a daily basis to check emails. I am unaware of changes to classes or appointments because I do not have my online life in my pocket. People talk about the times changing when they mention how social media has become a part of our lives, but it goes deeper than that.
I chose this path. Literally. I did not mention anything to my parents about my phone being with them until Wednesday. I wanted to live like this for a week to see what it was like. And it was less than stellar. It is difficult to be a college student nowadays and not have that constant connection to the internet through your smartphone. Being out of the loop and only being able to communicate with people either face-to-face or from a computer seriously hampers the communication we have now accepted as the norm. I did not want to think I was dependent on my smartphone. I made it until the later part of high school without one, so why would I all of a sudden desperately need one now? Turns out I did, but I maintain that it is not me that needs the smartphone; it is the environment.
For example, say that you forget your clicker in your dorm room, but you do not have time to go back to your dorm to get it in between classes. Perhaps you would have your roommate bring it to you, but without a phone, how can you tell him? What if your professor sends out an email that you need to bring a laptop to class that day? If you had your phone, you would have gotten that email, but without it, you are unprepared. Let’s say your enrollment date is coming up and you cannot get into a class that you need and you want to see your adviser about it. You email them to set up and interview, but you have no way of knowing what they said and when they respond.
It is undeniable. The times have changed. Smartphones and social media—these are things that are necessary to be an effective college student. Not only for pleasure and socializing but also for getting work done. Whether you are organizing study groups or making dinner plans, smartphones are a necessity. They are essentially highly portable mini-computers capable of providing us information from the Internet quickly and without having to find an actual computer to use. Some people today feel that our generation is sacrificing actual experiences, face-to-face communication and paying attention in class in favor of being on our cell phones. But has anyone stopped to think that maybe we are not playing “2048” or texting our friends, but rather, we are doing something productive?
There are two sides to everything. Yes, smartphones can be a distraction, not only academically but in life as well. Because I am not scrolling through various social media feeds late at night, I am actually falling asleep when I climb into bed, and that is certainly for the better. However, communicating with faculty, professors and peers has been made near impossible this past week due to the absence of my smartphone. It cannot be that hard to find a happy medium between the two. The communication part is necessary, but sometimes it is best to put the phones down and do what you have to do. Like many things, self-control is what is really necessary here.