Technology. We love it. We hate it. It’s so useful. It’s so annoying. Some of the most amazing things can be accomplished using technology, but then there’re those people who spread minion memes and cat videos. One thing that is widely agreed upon is that people can become addicted to their technology, just like anything else. Because we are so immersed in it, it is sometimes hard for us to see just how much we use our technology just to pass the time or while we’re waiting for our life to happen. But I sometimes think we allow our life to pass us by because we’re too busy checking to see what’s going on in our ‘life’ on Facebook or other social media. So, let’s examine some scary habits that we all have, why they’re a problem, and how to fix them.
When I was thinking about writing this article to address how addicted we are to technology as a culture, I kept thinking “Everyone except me. I’m not addicted.” So to prove I wasn’t addicted to technology, my phone specifically, I logged out of all social media sites on my phone for a week. Which ended up being the longest week of my life. I suffered from a major case of what my dad, and I’m sure others, have titled F.O.M.O. or Fear of Missing Out. I felt like my whole life was passing me by, as so many friends asked me “Did you see what they posted on Facebook? Have you been on Facebook? Did you check Facebook?” The first few days of my week of technological fasting were rough. But after that, it got a lot easier. I didn’t have the desire to check Facebook because I could rely on my friends to relay critical information as needed. Plus I noticed that the people who I cared about the most were the ones that I didn’t need Facebook to keep up with anyway. The less I was on Facebook, the more time I spent with actual real life people instead of ‘friends’ on the internet. I realized how much time I spent checking Facebook when there was nothing new to see. I’d check it standing in line, right before class, right after class, in my car, right before bed . . . the list goes on. People often would try and speak to me several times before I would realize what they were saying, or I wouldn’t hear them because I was so enamored with my little silver screen. Whenever I would look up from my phone, I would feel like I was emerging from a fog into the sunlight. When most of my life was lived with my phone in my hand, that’s when I realized it was becoming a problem.
So, how do we fix this? I know I’m not the only one that struggles with the temptation to check my phone every five seconds. One thing that has helped me a lot is setting myself a list of mental rules to follow. If I’m with other people, I don’t check my phone. This used to be common courtesy, but now we just accept that conversations we have with people will be a three-way thing: us, them, and whoever they’re texting. This needs to stop. We need to be willing to give people our full attention. And this includes just casually sitting in class, waiting for class to start. It may feel awkward just to sit there, but try it. When you’re face is glued to your phone, all the opportunities for conversations are eliminated. So sure, it’s less awkward to check your phone during class than to talk to the kid behind you, but it’s also less polite. By reaching out and connecting with someone else, we are fulfilling our role as social creatures instead of social media animals. Another way to cut down on technology is set a designated time to check social media, instead of periodically throughout the day. Checking it once in the morning before leaving the house or at night before bed is better than checking it every twenty minutes throughout the day. That way you don’t have to suffer from F.O.M.O. but you’re also engaging with those around you. Think of it this way; when you go to a movie theater, you go to see a movie. Not text your friends, check social media, or play Candy Crush. Imagine your day is like a movie; you’re there to live it, not pass the time waiting for your life to start. If your life was a movie, and you didn’t want to miss anything important, you wouldn’t risk it by checking your phone. So try it this week. Log out of social media for a while. Suffer through the first couple days of F.O.M.O. and see what happens. Give real life a chance.