The familiar irritating chimes of my alarm radiate through my phone to wake me up from my peaceful, all-too-short, slumber. I have an itch that only scrolling through my Instagram first thing in the morning can scratch, and I hardly fight the irresistible urge to unlock my phone. Before I even rub the drowsiness from my eyes, I've already scrolled through Twitter, Instagram and answered all the texts I missed from the night before.
I lazily get ready for class, brush my teeth, and head out the door; my earphones are in and my new favorite Spotify playlist is getting me prepared to take on the day. While walking to class and in class, I idly scroll through my phone, at lunch my phone is never more than a few inches out of reach, while doing homework I continuously check my phone for any negligible and insignificant notifications I missed (mainly to procrastinate), and before bed I binge watch whatever I can Netflix. The next morning, the same disappointing cycle continues.
I know this is a familiar routine for everyone, the fear of missing a single notification gnaws at all of us and it is impossible to not feel attached to the piece of technology that connects us to the entire world. There is hardly a person you will pass on Syracuse's campus that doesn't have earphones in, blocking out the rest of the world, or someone whose head is firmly locked down, focusing solely on their screens. We are addicted and held prisoner to our phones and its only getting worse.
I was talking with my dad the other day, and he was asking me if I had met anyone new while walking through campus or to class and I almost laughed at the notion that that was even a possibility. He was so confused when I told him that it felt nearly impossible in today's society to casually meet someone on campus when people are so invested in the meaningless Instagram posts and tweets on their phone, that they don't look up long enough to even see those who are walking by.
He told me how when he was in college, all people would do was hang out on the quad and talk and meet and that's where he met some of his best friends, whether it was interrupting a group of guys throwing a Frisbee around, or going up to a cute girl and talking to her, there was never a lack of connection and communication anywhere on his campus. (To be fair, it is freezing cold in Syracuse a majority of the year so that is part of the reason we all don't sit around and chat outside as he could.)
I was baffled by this structure of a college campus where anyone could talk to anyone because that seemed so far from the one we have today. I sometimes realize I am so infatuated with my phone, that I forget to look at the beauty around me; the way Crouse looks like warm umber when the sun begins to set, or how rustic and historic Hall of Languages is, or the beauty of the diverse community of people around me.
My point is, I worry for all of us. These are the best years of our lives and I fear that all we'll have to show for it is a couple of good Instagram posts and a few funny tweets. I've seen girls go to tailgates just to take pictures, and then leave 15 minutes later because they came "just for the gram". I understand that our generation is changing, and shifting norms, but there is still a raw charm to face to face connection and I don't want us to miss out on that because we wanted to make sure that our pictures/posts are good enough.
I'd be a hypocrite to say that I am not one of the many zombies attached to their phones, there is hardly a time you will see me without it glued to my hand. But I will say that I am going to consciously make an effort to enjoy the world around me more because we owe it to ourselves to actually make the most out of our lives, instead of just making it look like we are online. I want to live my life instead of watching everyone else live theirs (through social media) and I don't want to unhealthily compare my life to everyone else's. I want to make my life my own, without any regrets, and do what makes me happy; not what would look best for my Snapchat. I think we all owe it to ourselves to live for ourselves and not our phones.