I've been back in the US for about two weeks and while there are many forms of reverse culture shock I'm going through, nothing is more in-my-face than the abundance of connectedness. Everything revolves around technology, and I mean e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g. I'm 28 and should be excited about all these advancements, no? But instaed I find myself wishing I could escape to a remote island and avoid it all. It's hard to avoid though, almost impossible really, and I admit it I'm getting swept right in.
In some instances I have no choice, I'm working online, and have friends across the globe, but other times I catch myself. Do I really need to snap my lunch, a funny street sign or atrocious outfit to my friends? Will that really alter anyones day? The answer is no, none of that matters.
I was meeting a friend for lunch last week and noticed something about every single table at the restaurant. Each and every one of them had at least one cell phone, but usually two placed on the table. The action of arriving somewhere and depositing your cellphone within arms reach has become such commonplace that it's more strange if this tabletop accessory is missing. People write about it and comment on it, but it still happens; in coffee shops, restaurants and bars, no matter if we're alone or with freinds the phone is rarely out of reach.
The problem is not the phone itself, but the world of possibilities it opens. We can now text, photograph, check the weather, news and sports updates, book flights and accomodation, find restaurants and even date, all from the palm of our hand. Just today I saw an add for a new application "meet friends near you!" and I couldn't help but wonder, have people lost some innate abilities. Do we no longer how to talk to people in person, we ned an app to connect us to potential partners and now even friends? How did we ever survive before?
It's so common for people to be constantly connected that there's now such thing as texting thumb, and various neck and back problems. While these may be obvoius, albeit overlooked by the user, what I consider more dangerous are the psychological effects.
Smartphone addiction sounds like a joke and I wish it were, but unfortunately it's real. I've caught myself hearing phantom rings or text message alerts, checking my screen for texts or updates only minutes after previously doing so. While living in Korea I cut myself off, turning my phone off from 10pm to 10am, and while it helped it didn't last. We get bored or find a reason to be sucked back in. Currently I'm the owner of not one but two phones, one tied to my life abroad while the other connects me to my current life here. Actually this is great though, because the phone with all the fancy apps only works on WiFi, an automatic limit, although that's almost everywhere anyway.
So what's the solution, or is it even a problem? Some people may argue that it's great how connected we all are, able to tune in so instantaneously, but again I'm maybe not the typical millenial. We could ditch the phones, but we know that would never happen. The convenience is too great that people would never want to give it up.
Emptying my Head
I'm an overthinker, my brain is always on overdrive. Sometimes the thoughts are pertinant to life, and other times they're just a trove of wonder. They're usually about, related to or in memory of travel. When they're good I like to share.