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The cellphone take-over

Courtesy of David Joyce/Flickr

A few Sundays ago, I attended the Easton Corbin concert at the Fine Arts Center. As the main act began, my friends and I surged to the front in order to get into the pit. Once Easton Corbin began singing, out came my phone (along with everyone else’s) to try to record 30 seconds here and 45 seconds there. After a while though, I began to realize that I was really watching the concert through the lens of my phone, instead of enjoying it for what it was. As I looked around the crowd, I knew I was not the only one. We were so busy trying to capture the moment that we weren’t living in it.

So why are we so attached to our phones? According to an article by Joanna Stern for ABC News, which cites the Klein Perkins Caufield and Byers’s annual Internet Trends report, “Cell phone users check phones 150 times a day”. Sure, cellphones make life a lot easier and allow you to be in constant connection to those you love, but is it ever too much?

There is an app for everything from turning your phone into a flashlight to a periodic table app to help with chemistry homework. Don’t feel like breathing because it’s too much effort? There is probably an app for that too. It is about convenience after all. Perhaps it is that convenience that allows our phones to seemingly creep into every aspect of our lives… and I mean every single tiny aspect.

Personally, I don’t get out of bed in the morning without first a delicious mental breakfast of my four main food groups; Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, and Facebook. The day just wouldn’t be the same without getting to scroll through my daily dose of cat pictures. Then, once class begins, there is always that girl who can’t wait for the professor to stop lecturing just long enough for her to check that Snapchat she had received and, of course, respond with the appropriate duck face when she believes no one is paying attention. Trust me though, someone always sees, even if she is hiding behind an open textbook.

After class, it can be interesting to stroll through the dining halls and notice how many people enjoy peaceful silence with their friends as they participate in the thrilling group activity of scrolling through newsfeeds on Facebook. What could be more exciting you might be wondering? Well, things really step it up a bit when a dramatic tweet is found or maybe, if you are lucky, you will come across a relationship status change. The “it’s complicated” change provides a whole new level of gossip for the day.

Finally, after a long day of social media and, perhaps, class, Google will provide you with the answer to every question you have ever wanted to know. Did your date end after only an hour and you want to know what went wrong, wondering why fish exist, or if that cheese in the fridge is still good? Google is the place to go. Just type “Google is” into the search bar and two suggestions down, Google itself will tell you “Google is your friend”. After learning the secrets of the universe, you can climb into bed and numb your mind into a state of zombie-like sleep as you, for the twentieth time, try to defeat the 105th level of Candy Crush.

If any of the above description really speaks to you, there is no shame in any of these things. Just today, I bought a hanging box to put next to my lofted bed so that my cellphone will be conveniently near me while I am sleeping. We are all affected by the ever presence of our cell phones, both negatively and positively. Although they can be distracting and take away from our awareness of the world around us, they make life easy and keep us connected to each other. With camera phones, you can use the camera to capture those laughable moments with friends that you would never want to forget. They provide a calendar that helps organize our lives and keep us on time for important events. As alarms, they are even the reason many people make it to class on time in the morning.

In the end, all that really matters is the realization that a balance needs to be found in life. Everything is good in moderation. Take lunch as a time to really talk to your friends, pull yourself away from the phone and remember that eye contact is important. Walking to class, look around and watch the squirrels play; they’re funny. Maybe even take the time to write someone a handwritten letter, it will be much more appreciated than a text. If you are feeling especially adventurous, challenge yourself and leave your phone at home one day. You never know what you will discover out there in the real world.

Molly Gately can be reached at megately@umass.edu.

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