Many times, instead of interacting with the world around us, we interact with the virtual world of our phones. Once at work, before we needed to clock in, I and a couple of other coworkers were standing in a circle. Rather than socializing, we gaped at our phones, all pretending we weren't around anyone. Somebody even joked, "Ha! We're all looking at our phones." All of us looked up from our screens to laugh, then continued to look back down. Many of us now choose to be on our smartphones rather than engage with the people around us.
The article, "We Are All Quants Now," written by Paula Cohen, is about the effect phones have on our culture. Cohen argues that because of the concept of "likes," we base worth on the quantity of something.
In the introduction of the article, Cohen tells a babysitting story from her friend. While her friend was watching a 7-year-old girl draw a picture, she asked if she was proud of her work. The little girl replied by saying she'll know when she finds out how many "likes" it gets at school. Cohen follows up this story by recognizing that, "for a 7-year-old to want to assess her drawing by the number of 'likes' it gets means that she understands her artwork in quantitative terms."
This is not only true of young children but also true of teens and young adults. Unfortunately, we base the worth of things and even ourselves on the amount of "likes" or "views" we receive. Many times I have heard teenagers around my age of 17 boasts about how many "likes" they get or how many snapchat "streaks" they have as if it is representative of their worth.
An article in Time called, "Americans Check Their Phones 8 Billion Times a Day," by Lisa Eadicicco, shows how often we use our smartphones. Eadicicco reports that "Although 46 checks per day is the average, that number varies depending on users' age group. Those between the ages of 18 and 24 look at their phones most often, with an average of 74 checks per day. Americans in the 25-34 age bracket look at their devices 50 times per day, and those between 35 and 44 do so 35 times each day."
The article, using a study by Deloitte, also said that Americans collectively check their phones 8 billion times a day. Given this information, it's safe to say that we are, "glued to our phones." Of the average 46 checks per day, some of them are understandable and necessary, but most of them are unnecessary.
Smartphones and social media may be one of the reasons for the polarization of our country. The invention of the smartphone has allowed us to access social media anywhere at any time. Since we have easier access to social media, we can now interact with hundreds of people behind a screen. But with this new privilege comes negativity.
The fact that we are behind a screen gives us the ability to say things to people we would never say in person. The phone screen works as a shield against any responsibility for the things we spout. This leads to alarming division among us. We can now say nasty and uncalled for things to people we disagree with politically. This type of behavior has replaced a respectful discussion. There are many reasons why our country is polarized and social media is one of them.