I caught a reflection of myself in the window. There I was, sitting hunched over, right hand grasping the tiny computer that had seemingly become an extension of my arm, eyes squinting as I held the contraption mere inches from my face.
What a sorry sight.
This was a daily, or rather hourly occurrence, and it didn’t seem to matter if I was out for a walk, on the bus, or sitting down to watch a movie – my cellphone was utterly captivating, and the stimulation it provided from otherwise mundane scenery was apparently enough to provide constant motivation to visit the same websites, social media apps, and games that caused my eyes to gloss over.
With this realization (one which I’ve come to many, many times before) I promptly deleted my Instagram. This was perhaps the biggest time waster on my phone, causing me to scroll through endless photographs, least I miss out on a picture of a half eaten meal that one of my friends had consumed. This deletion, of which I had also done before, provided a sort of instant relief. Almost as if I had been in a room with blaring music, unable to escape but finally managing to squeeze out a window and slam it shut behind me.
The next day, while catching the bus to my downtown office, I found a seat and noticed my phone was securely in my hand. After glancing at the news, I remembered the apps I had relied on to keep my eyesight strictly five inches in front of me were now gone. As of now, I was a girl with a phone and nothing to look at. So with that, I did something unconscionable: I put my phone in my backpack, and closed the zipper.
Looking up, I felt like someone who had just emerged from a cave, squinting from the sunlight and cautiously taking in my new surroundings. It was cloudy out today; something I hadn’t noticed with my neck hunched over during the walk from my car to the bus stop. And there……..there were other people on the bus! Yes, it turns out it’s not just a larger car for one person, but rather a service to get a bunch of people to different destinations.
What stuck me most however, was that no one had joined me in my newfound two minute phone freedom. As I looked around the full bus, every single person was fixated on their glowing screens, slowing scrolling through apps with an eerie lack of expression on their faces. I had heard the expression that we are slaves to these devices, but for reasons unknown, it hit me hardest today.
There is the outside world. One that is full of colour, movement, and the things that make us feel alive as humans. But there is also the digital world, and as technology advances, I fear that we are falling farther down this technological hole – one that appears to steal the energy an individual needs to get back to reality.
As best I can, I will make choices to live among the living – the people that are here and now, the ones that I cannot make disappear with a swipe of my finger. Technology is causing us to grow accustomed to a world in which there is always something to stimulate our brains, while our bodies lie dormant. No matter how magnificent a picture or a conversation on our phones may be, we have to remember that it does not come anywhere close to the real thing.
P.S. I glanced at my phone three times while I was writing this.