I have recently come to realize that our world is mostly a product of a singular innovation: the cell phone. Whether we like it or not, its control has become hard to escape, as people love the idea of always being able to reach whoever they want to. The iPhone took the revolution of the cell phone even further by giving us the ability to check social media apps such as Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat whenever we want. We can even escape boredom through a video game at any time that we choose! Theoretically, this device has the potential to make every minute of every day interesting and fun for its user. It seems to make us more connected to our friends, as we can always know what everyone else is doing.
However, I would argue that technology often isolates people into a lifestyle that includes two things: them and their phone. Although texting is great and communicating through social media keeps people in contact with each other, these programs don't have the same power to create a real connection as an actual, physical conversation does. Texting shares words, but it can't carry the speaker's tone to the listener. Social media can send pictures, but it is honestly more of an art form than a place to make real friends. Both of these options actually tend to allow people to disappear into their phone and avoid having a conversation if they feel awkward and bored!
Even though being able to escape a boring moment may seem great at the time, sometimes the best moments life has to offer can spring out of your bored or awkward moments. I have been attached to the leash of my phone since I was twelve years old, so it is hard to remember a time before I was used to its constant presence. But sometimes life forces me to take a break. It is in these few and far between moments that I understand how amazing life without a phone can truly be.
When I was younger I attended a two-week summer camp in the middle of Texas and was not allowed to bring my phone. From the outside, two weeks without a phone in the country during a hot and humid Texas summer probably seems like the definition of torture. The only reason I was coerced into leaving my air-conditioned home in the city was because my friends were going and I didn't want to miss the adventure! The idea of camp was never the most appealing thing to me, so I went in envisioning two weeks with my friends trying to survive heat and phone-less boredom. However, my conception of camp was totally off and I actually attribute that to the fact that I did not have a cell phone! We were given schedules on the first day and I didn't know anyone in my classes. But, because no one had phones the dynamic shifted from awkward silences to constant conversation because everyone was forced out of their comfort zone and made new friends. I had so many adventures those two weeks with those people finding ways to have fun that were so much more rewarding than simply scrolling through my phone.
Another experience that reinforces my theory that phones hold us back from living fully is a cruise that I took outside of the range of cellular service. Last December, my family and I traveled to Antarctica to see the continent from a ship with 200 other people. On the first day, we were still in the range of cellular service but the next 8 there was nothing to entertain us but the ship and the icy continent in front of us. My sister and I were terrified of the boredom that we would surely face, so we bought tons of DVD's so that we could entertain ourselves no matter what. However, we never watched a single one. The first night was New Year's Eve, so the ship had a party where we met and bonded with all of the other passengers. Over the next week, we spent all day of every day with these new friends having adventures and simply making each other laugh. I shared a room with my sister and we became closer than we had ever been before simply because each other's company was our main source of entertainment. We both cried when we had to leave the boat. However, even though our friends were forced to scatter all over the world, I am still as close with some of them as I am with my high school friends.
Because of this I do have to give the cell phone credit, it the lifeline of my long-distance friendships. I can still communicate with my loved ones who are far away because of its power. It has made my life better in so many ways and I appreciate its authority. I definitely love being able to text people from across the world and post pictures on Instagram! However, my experiences without it have taught me how incredible and life-changing a break from the leash of technology can really be! Not having my phone provided me with the opportunity to make some of my strongest friendships and create some of my most amazing memories. Therefore, many of the greatest experiences of my life have all been created by the abilities of the cellphone, but many have also been created from my complete lack thereof!