Present day is a socially unprecedented time. It seems as though everywhere you go, you are surrounded by cell phones, computers, tablets, etc. My generation is truly the first to have grown up with technology integrated to such a degree in daily life.
At this point, it almost seems as though people cannot exist independent of their devices. What if someone needs to get a hold of me? What if I get lost? What if I NEED my phone? There seems to be a sort of anxiety people have about not being connected at all times. These are the first questions people bring up when you ask why they need their phones, but I have found that you truly don't need to take your phone everywhere at all.
Anything that happens on your phone or laptop will be there when you look at it next. If someone called, call them back. If you get lost when you're out, figure it out using other means. It is so ingrained in our generation that we must have our phone with us at all times or we will miss something. Something will go wrong. Things will be out of sorts. If you take a step back and think about this, people's inability to live without their cell phones, it is a very odd an unnatural thing.
At the root of this cellphone addiction, are apps such as Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, etc. We take these apps, make friends and create a virtual social circle. Followers or friends, its a pool of people whose content we observe, and who we share our content with.
Pictures, videos, statuses, moods, messages… it seems that we know what is going on with these people at all times. 24 hours 7 days a week, we have the ability to get a pretty good idea of what everyone is up to based on their social media accounts. Such a tool is great at keeping people connected and getting information out but often comes at the cost of addiction. It has been found that when you use these apps, and your phone at all, it causes a release of dopamine, which makes us feel good. We then in turn, keep seeking out that dopamine. This creates a constant desire to be on our phones and see what is going on. This creates FOMO (Fear of missing out) whether we like it or not.
We saw something cool and now want to be somewhere other than where we are. All of a sudden what we were doing doesn't look as fun or as cool as what someone else is doing. Think about this though. If what someone else is doing was really that much fun, they would not be on their phone sharing it, they would be reveling in it and enjoying it for themselves. But it is not that easy.
After I deleted my social media accounts, I began to take notice of how many people are on their phones or using their phones in some way. It was eye-opening.
The overwhelming majority of people, especially people my own age seemed to be tied to their phones. This constant use of cell phones has created an odd social dynamic that has not been seen before in the long term.
After taking a step back and observing, I realize that it is truly sad in a sense when you are spending time with people and they are on their phone, worried about anything except where they actually are. People don't interact the way they used to, and in my opinion, the old school way of being present where you actually are is much better than being tied to your phone.
When I had Snapchat and Instagram and Twitter, even when I was hanging out with friends, I would find myself clicking the icon just to see if I had missed anything in the past 30 seconds. What is everyone else doing? "Wow! That looks like a good time. They must be having a ton of fun, I kind of wish I was there".
Then I thought to myself, put your phone down for a half hour maybe and try to make your own fun.
I realized that this ongoing concern with what everyone else was doing had led me to be unhappy with what I was doing.
It created the idea that what I was doing was not good enough and what someone else was doing was way better. I started to try and focus on enjoying what I was doing and appreciating where I was, when I was there. Soon enough, I began to realize that I didn't need to know what other people were doing and I was happier not knowing.
I started to realize that if you surround yourself with good people and put your phone away, it is usually a good time. Go for a drive, go for a walk, play a game, grab some food. Whatever it may be, I think if more people followed my lead, it would be for the better. If as a generation, we begin to walk away from our cell phones and focus on the people who are physically around us, we will quickly notice that we have talented, funny, goofy, kind, creative people all around us. And maybe as a positive externality of that, people will start to be content with where they are, the friends that they have, lose the FOMO, sleep better and be more productive. It is a long shot because of how addictive cell phones are, and I don't see people shying away from their phones any time soon, but that doesn't mean it is not possible.
I am hopeful that in the not so distant future, people will realize that it may be a beneficial decision to get rid of social media and begin enjoying life in the real world, the way life was meant to be enjoyed.