I Didn't Use My Phone For 3 Days And This Is What I Realized

I Didn't Use My Phone For 3 Days And This Is What I Realized

Without having a phone, I realized a lot about when I did have a phone.
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This weekend, my phone, unfortunately, decided to take a spill onto the sidewalk and shattered into a million pieces, leaving the entire phone completely useless. With being at school, I was not able to get it fixed until Monday night — leaving me phone-less for nearly three days. Now, this is not a long time, however, it gave me a lot of time to think. I was completely away from having technology everywhere I go within the click of a button. Overall, I had come to a sad realization that I think a lot of millennials could agree on, that we rely on technology and social media way too much in our everyday lives.

I realized I don't need my phone to talk to my friends

My initial reaction to my phone breaking was, "Shoot, how will I communicate with my friends," this, however, was not a huge issue. So I couldn't Snapchat or text for three days, but I realized how sad it was that I thought I needed a phone to talk to my friends. This is in no way an issue anyone should have just because they don't have a phone or aren't on social media.

I realized phones are distractions from what is in front of me

I actually valued the time I had with my friends more, when I was hanging out with them without a phone. I was able to focus directly on the people, activities and conversations that were right in front of me with no distractions of messages and notifications. This was a different experience, something I'm not used to, which is actually sad. Every time I am with my friends, everyone still feels the need to be checking in on social media and see what everyone else that they know is up to on Instagram and Snapchat instead of focusing what we are doing. During this short period of time not having a phone I almost became annoyed with my friends that did because it was like there was something stuck in between and holding back us from being just us and hanging out, which was their phones.

I used my phone as a way to avoid people and situations in public

I then started to realize how much I relied on my phone as almost a "tool" of comfort. I realized how many situations there were in the day that gave me an excuse to be in my phone just so I didn't feel awkward. For example, While riding in the elevator, waiting in lines while getting food, walking to class, waiting for a professor to start a class, and so much more. I realize I use my phone even when I don't want or need to, just because it's "the thing to do" because everyone else is doing it, and if I don’t have my head down looking at the same social media posts I've seen five times within the past hour I will be looked at as weird. I realized my generation struggles to find peace in eye contact and speaking face to face, so we use our devices to hide it.

Without my phone, I feel something is missing

Another thing I felt without my phone was almost like a sense of something missing or I was forgetting something when I was out in public. I recently read an article regarding technology and connections and a quote that stuck out to me was "The next time you leave your phone at home, think about that being the reason for feeling like a piece of you is missing." This quote stuck out to me so much and really made me think about it. I believe people who are active on social media leave a part of themselves on technological devices and on social media, then when they're not on them they feel a longing for them and are almost in a way addicted to their lives on their technology or social media. But what if what everyone is really missing out on is the world in front of them offline and they just didn't know it?

Being the one without a phone left me feeling like I was living in a different world than those that did have phones.

Without having a phone, I realized a lot about when I did have a phone. It was a weird feeling, I almost felt left out from everyone else, or like I was missing something, not following everyone else and doing the "Norm." I definitely realized that this world is very technologically involved and with that comes many flaws, or at least in my eyes. I believe technology has created a bubble around people and it reels them into almost a whole new world, and once that technology is taken away you, or at least I was living in a different world.

Cover Image Credit: Sierra Gardner

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I'm The Girl Without A 'Friend Group'

And here's why I'm OK with it

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Little things remind me all the time.

For example, I'll be sitting in the lounge with the people on my floor, just talking about how everyone's days went. Someone will turn to someone else and ask something along the lines of, "When are we going to so-and-so's place tonight?" Sometimes it'll even be, "Are you ready to go to so-and-so's place now? Okay, we'll see you later, Taylor!"

It's little things like that, little things that remind me I don't have a "friend group." And it's been like that forever. I don't have the same people to keep me company 24 hours of the day, the same people to do absolutely everything with, and the same people to cling to like glue. I don't have a whole cast of characters to entertain me and care for me and support me. Sometimes, especially when it feels obvious to me, not having a "friend group" makes me feel like a waste of space. If I don't have more friends than I can count, what's the point in trying to make friends at all?

I can tell you that there is a point. As a matter of fact, just because I don't have a close-knit clique doesn't mean I don't have any friends. The friends I have come from all different walks of life, some are from my town back home and some are from across the country. I've known some of my friends for years, and others I've only known for a few months. It doesn't really matter where they come from, though. What matters is that the friends I have all entertain me, care for me, and support me. Just because I'm not in that "friend group" with all of them together doesn't mean that we can't be friends to each other.

Still, I hate avoiding sticking myself in a box, and I'm not afraid to seek out friendships. I've noticed that a lot of the people I see who consider themselves to be in a "friend group" don't really venture outside the pack very often. I've never had a pack to venture outside of, so I don't mind reaching out to new people whenever.

I'm not going to lie, when I hear people talking about all the fun they're going to have with their "friend group" over the weekend, part of me wishes I could be included in something like that. I do sometimes want to have the personality type that allows me to mesh perfectly into a clique. I couldn't tell you what it is about me, but there is some part of me that just happens to function better one-on-one with people.

I hated it all my life up until very recently, and that's because I've finally learned that not having a "friend group" is never going to be the same as not having friends.

SEE ALSO: To The Girls Who Float Between Friend Groups

Cover Image Credit: wordpress.com

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Are You Safe?

The Dangers of Facial Recognition Technology

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On Tuesday, May 14th, San Francisco banned the use of facial recognition technology by police and other local agencies.

According to The New York Times, the bill "makes San Francisco the first major American city to block a tool that many police forces are turning to in the search for both small-time criminal suspects and perpetrators of mass carnage."

And why is this important?

Because San Francisco, best known for its role in the technology revolution, is setting an excellent example of how much/little facial recognition technology should be used. Civil liberty groups have already expressed their discontent about the use of facial recognition. They argue that such technology could easily be abused by the government as it gives police so much surveillance power. Additionally, they insist that facial recognition could lead to bias since such technology can be less accurate for minorities.

Matt Cagle, a lawyer with the A.C.L.U. of Northern California, sums up the importance of the bill by saying that the San Francisco proposal "is really forward-looking and looks to prevent the unleashing of this dangerous technology against the public" as such technology, he said, "provides government with unprecedented power to track people going about their daily lives."

What is facial recognition technology?

Using biometrics to map facial features from a photograph or video, facial recognition technology compares this information within a database of known faces to find a match.

How is facial recognition used?

According to Norton, there are four basic steps of facial recognition:

"Step 1. A picture of your face is captured from a photo or video. Your face might appear alone or in a crowd. Your image may show you looking straight ahead or nearly in profile.

Step 2. Facial recognition software reads the geometry of your face. Key factors include the distance between your eyes and the distance from forehead to chin. The software identifies facial landmarks — one system identifies 68 of them — that are key to distinguishing your face. The result: your facial signature.

Step 3. Your facial signature — a mathematical formula — is compared to a database of known faces. And consider this: at least 117 million Americans have images of their faces in one or more police databases. According to a May 2018 report, the FBI has had access to 412 million facial images for searches.

Step 4. A determination is made. Your faceprint may match that of an image in a facial recognition system database."

Who uses facial recognition?

The U.S. government at airports, mobile phone makers in products, colleges in the classroom, marketers, and advertisers in campaigns, businesses at entrances and restricted areas, religious groups at places of worship, social media companies on websites, and retailers in stores use facial recognition. The Department of Homeland Security uses facial recognition systems to monitor people leaving and going into airports.

Apple uses facial recognition to make sure people are who they are when they unlock their phone. To see who was absent from class, some professors use facial recognition to identify who attended class. Like colleges, churches have used facial recognition to scan their congregations to see who's present.

Facebook uses a facial recognition algorithm to identify faces when you upload a photo to its platform. Some companies use a facial recognition system for their employees to access different clearance levels. Retailers combine surveillance cameras and facial recognition to scan the faces of shoppers. Markets use facial recognition to target specific groups for a product or idea.

Is facial recognition technology safe?

That depends on how it is used. Facial recognition technology arguably makes everybody become subject to the surveillance of the government. Therefore, some people fear the advances are outstripping the government's ability to set restrictions to protect people's privacy.

How is facial recognition technology dangerous?

Some fatal issues include security, prevalence, ownership, safety, mistaken identity, and basic freedoms. Facial recognition could result in your facial data to be stolen by hackers. Because facial recognition is so widespread, your data could end up in the hands of random people. You may lose ownership of your digital face. You could be harassed and stalked online. Because facial recognition systems may not always be 100% accurate, law enforcement may mistakenly identify a criminal with an innocent, similar looking person. It could become impossible to remain anonymous as facial recognition could identify where you are and what you are doing at any time.

Bottom line?

In the past decade, cameras have advanced significantly. No longer are cameras just devices to take photos, but rather human identification systems. On one hand, facial recognition technology could act as a public safety unit if used ethically. At the same time, however, there are several issues that could arise and result in cataphoric consequences.

My advice?

Watch what you post on social media. Don't use the facial recognition system on any devices you have. Get a secure router. Never act suspicious or draw unwanted attention to yourself. Always stay alert. And most importantly, trust only a few people.

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