It’s interesting how we document our lives nowadays. It’s not so much for our reflection anymore; we post about our days on the public, everlasting journal of the Facebook timeline. If this technology had been around in centuries past, we’d know a lot more about history— almost too much to wrap our minds around. We thought thousands of detailed diary entries from monarchs and revolutionaries were a lot to sort through and make sense of; I can only imagine what the history texts will look like in fifty years when they detail the Twitter beef among today’s political leaders. Think of the meme wars that the world might have witnessed between various historical adversaries, had the internet existed earlier. Oh, make it stop.
Regardless of what may have been, we can’t deny that we are consumed by our phones in this day and age. The way we share our lives with others is a new kind of human interaction. Although it can unfortunately take the place of face-to-face bonding, it is still working its magic. I can reach my friends who are on the other side of the world in a matter of a few FaceTime rings, and update them on my travel experiences as I go, rather than saving all 700 stories for an in-person hangout. Then I’d have to dole the tales out only semi-periodically for the next ten years because they get it, I went abroad. I think this is a blessing for everyone involved.
I know that we complain about our phones making us lazy, but I can’t think of anyone who wouldn’t rather see a friend in person than text or call them. If we have the means, and the will, we’ll do it. But often, the means are a 300-mile drive or an expensive flight. So the will gets us the phone calls and the updates that keep the relationships so close, despite our obstacles. That’s the powerfully positive aspect of the little rectangular world at all of our fingertips.
To provide an anecdote: My five best friends from high school and I still use our group chat that was born four years ago when we were juniors. Of course, it is not active every hour or even every day as it once was; we all live such separate lives now and don’t feel the need to interrupt what we’re doing to respond all at once. But two or three times a week, I hear from my hometown girls, and I think that’s pretty amazing. And although our conversations have shifted drastically from the high school gossip, to updates on new jobs we’ve scored, to questions about filing tax returns— the same humor and dynamic still shine through. Even though we grew up together, we’re becoming adults by ourselves, and that is a difficult task to muster without consulting each other’s sage wisdom through a simple text, such as, “Please send thoughts on this interview outfit.”
I realize that there are several drawbacks to the omnipresence of our devices. We rely on them far more than we need to. Walking around all day with a phone in hand is similar in theory to a baby sleeping with a teddy bear. If you leave your phone at home for the day, will you be sad? Yep. Will you feel a little vulnerable without it? Definitely. Will the paranoia you feel about missing texts distract you for a bit before you get on with your day and enjoy yourself? Probably. Babies will cry and stay awake without the comfort and security of their teddy bears, but will they get to sleep eventually? Dear God, I hope so. This isn’t, by the way, me calling us all babies about how we depend on our phones. But it just so happens to be a double entendre, so interpret as you wish.
Whether you see our communication abilities as societal progression or a downward spiral, I like to look at the benefits of our capabilities. My favorite comedian, Louis CK, says the following in regards to this subject: “Everything is amazing, and nobody is happy.” I think we can all look at the positives of what we have, and use our perception of the negative aspects to readjust our usage of technology until we can strike a balance between the two. Maybe every individual’s happy medium will be different, but at least it’s a start!