One can’t walk across the University of Idaho campus without seeing students hooked to their smartphones. But it’s not just college students that are entranced by smartphones, 56 percent of all Americans are using smartphones according to a Pew Research Center report.
However, smartphones are no longer just being used to pass the time between classes, but are seen everywhere in our society – especially in social situations.
We all know the situation. The conversation dies down and out come the smartphones. Whether it is at an intimate dinner date, a house party or a spontaneous conversation with a friend, the smartphone is always near.
Why do we feel the need to latch onto these devices for virtual entertainment while ignoring human connections all around us? Shouldn’t it be considered socially unacceptable to blatantly ignore one another for shallow online entertainment?
People do this for various reasons.
Some use it as a social coping method, if the conversation dies down and an awkward silence occurs it’s much easier to go online then think of another topic or even admit there is nothing else to say.
Others are just plain rude and care more about their Tumblr profile or Twitter account than to give honest conversation a chance. This is not to say that face-to-face conversations cannot be painfully boring, but mutual respect for another person is key to being a good person.
Now I’m not talking about an important business call that needs urgent attention, or someone looking up a quick fact on Google. I’m talking about people who have whole conversations while looking at their smartphone.
Full disclosure, I do not own a smartphone. There might be something I do not get about constant need to be looking at one, but is it really too much to ask to converse with someone without them looking at a smartphone.
Another side effect of this connection to smartphones is the compulsive need to share large parts of your life online, making sure to capture every moment and post it to a social media site.
People post pictures and videos about everything from a simple friend hangout to the concert of the year. But instead of taking a lousy video at a concert why not experience the concert without the distraction of a cellphone.
All that being said, smartphones are amazing devices that are revolutionizing the way we receive information and connect with others worldwide.
However, one of the great paradoxes of modern technology is seen in this device. Technology that is meant to increase communication has made us more distant.
Ryan Tarinelli can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org