We swim around in this fish bowl like we’re in control and we’re not. The simple fact that we think we’re autonomous is just a further example of how we’re all under a false consciousness. These items, these commodities that we hold so much value in have welded far too much power. You’d think the things we own wouldn’t be able to hold such an immense amount of control over us, that it should be us who obtain the control not the other way around. But sadly, this isn’t necessarily the case. For centuries, chosen or not, select groups have ruled over the rest of the given population, it’s a tale told repeatedly throughout history. We’re used to power structures in some way or another. But now technology has added another dimension to this structure. These are man-made objects, created by individuals much like you reading this. They started with us, and now the evolution of technology has become so advanced, we’ve lost control, we can no longer understand the ever growing, polysemic nature of these devices, the constant overflow of information is overbearing. And it is unfathomable how much more advanced it will become in the future.
Smartphones have become so intertwined into our daily lives, it seems some of us would rather lose an arm than lose our phone. We’ve also equated saying our phone has ran out of battery to our phones “dying”. We’ve essentially anthropomorphised them as a device, attributing human like qualities to them. It can be questioned as to whether this simultaneously induces an empathetic connection with our devices. Do some of us value them as highly as we do human beings? Whether this is true or not, perhaps the attributing of human like qualities to our phones exemplifies the level of prominence we’ve allowed these devices to have in our lives.
Have we established a connection with these devices as deep as real-life relationships we have with other people? Think about it though, with the colossal amount of time we give to them, it can be as much as the time we spend with the people we love the most. More than often it’s the first thing we check when we wake up and often the last thing we look at before we fall asleep. We look at them when someone’s talking to us, (and I high five the people in this world who don’t do that and go out of their way to ensure they are giving the other person their full attention). It can be like talking to a brick wall, or someone who’s there in physical form but not in spirit. If we’re not careful face to face genuine conversation will become obsolete. There’s going to come a day when no one talks to each other, and oral methods of communication which have been utilized since the dawn of man will no longer be the primary human communication, but the second or perhaps even the third. Because why use verbal communication when we could just interact solely through our phones? So many aspects of our lives have been incorporated into these devices for supposable ease, so why stop there and not just incorporate our whole lives into them? The physical world will just become meaningless and anytime spent not looking at screens but at the world around us will become burdening to our overpowering need to do everything through our smartphones. This isn’t some science fiction novel we’re talking about, but if we’re not careful, the foreseeable future. I know, sounds scary, doesn’t it?
Advancing on the potential death of verbal communication. I want to touch on the strain of interaction that I think the instantaneous nature of smartphones has created. The instant nature of messaging is tiring. Constant communication is draining. The cacophony of notifications can be overwhelming. I personally don’t want to be constantly on my phone, expected to be readily available to answer a message within a matter of minutes. There’s also not necessarily a need to apologise for replying ‘late’ to a message, why are we saying sorry for doing something else with our time, besides being on our phones? It’s more than likely not going to be urgent, so just reply in your own time. You don’t need to feel obligated to answer every voice coming from your device immediately, slow down a little, do things in your own time.
Yes, the way technology has developed has allowed messaging to be instantaneous and highly accessible, but I think as a repercussion we are taking advantage of these mediums and in turn feel like we have to overly communicate. Whatever happened to genuine face to face conversation? If we are constantly messaging each other everything we know, with every update and minor detail, what is going to be left for when we see each other face to face? There’s going to be nothing left to talk about, it’s just going to be this repeated pattern of white noise that we’ve already heard, (or should I say read on a screen). I think we now more than ever before live in a society where we feel like because the opportunity is there to keep in constant contact with each other, we’re too anxious to pass it up. We put unnecessary strain on ourselves to seek constant gratification, which can be fulfilled instantly through receiving likes on a selfie or whatever other monotonous content we create and upload.
So, how are we going to work our way around this? Smartphones aren’t just going to disappear overnight. And I’m not saying we should stop using them, I use mine myself on a regular basis as a way of communication and a quickly accessible source of information. But the main point I’m trying to emphasise is that more effort should be placed on reaching a compromise regarding the amount of time and influence we allow smartphones to have on our lives. Smartphones shouldn’t be the driving force of our lives, they should be acknowledged for what they are, but kept secondary to the things that really matter.
Tips for what I like to do when my phone becomes overwhelming (or I just simply need some time to think)
Take the time to breathe and engage in the environment around you. Try some meditation, sort through some of your old clothes, go for a walk in your local surroundings. Try and go a day without using your phone. Challenge yourself to see how long you can go without using it, experience the world solely through your own eyes, with no screens and no unnecessary interruptions. Check out http://thequietplaceproject.com/thequietplace for some guided mindfulness. Listen to some music that makes you feel calm (I listen to folk music for this reason). Or perhaps read a book and submerse yourself in another universe. I promise that these tips can really help to lighten the often-unspoken weight that technology can have on our minds and even gain you some valuable perspective.
*Here are two quotes from Matt Haig’s masterpiece ‘Reasons To Stay Alive’ (a personal favourite of mine, which I highly recommend ) to end on;
“Do not go on social media aimlessly. Always be aware of what you are doing… unchecked distractions will lead you to distraction.”
“Happiness isn’t about abandoning the world of stuff, but in appreciating it for what it is. We cannot save ourselves from suffering by buying an iPhone. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t buy one, it just means we should know such things are not ends in themselves.”
Thank you for reading! I am more than happy to chat to you in the comment section below. What are your thoughts on the topic of phones and social media?