A few weeks ago I sat in my living room alongside my nine-year-old brother. He had convinced me to watch TV with him almost everyday over the holiday break, something I’d never do on my own. During the commercials he told me that he getting a cellphone for Christmas. Not just any cellphone, but a Samsung S7, the most recent phone out at the time. As a kid I didn’t have access to a cellphone until I was 12, and even then it was a tiny flip phone with limited texting and an extremely slow internet. “For emergencies,” I was told. Today it’s so common to see elementary and middle school children walking around with the latest iPhone, tablets and name branded headphones. These kids know how to work the internet better than most common adults. I was in shock that a nine-year-old was truly convince that he needed a cellphone to survive these days. Have I missed something? As I glanced back to the TV the commercials were full of advertised products that were never thought about when I was younger: Robot vacuums, hands-free speakers known as Echo, Google glasses and automatic cars. For a person who never watches television, I was in awe at what the world was coming to.
Recently I wrote a blog explaining the importance of having your own website seeing that most of what the world needs today is accessed online. Yes, technology has many pros, but as we all know too much of anything can be hurtful not only to you but to those around us. For example, the excess use of our cellphones and the undivided attention that we give to others. Over the past few years my relationship with my phone has changed drastically. I was the one who never left anywhere without her phone, even to the restroom (gross!). During a conversation you’d have my attention for a little while, but once a notification went off my entire focus went to social media. It changed after the many times my (now) 20-year-old brother would yell at me for not paying attention to him during our conversations, and of course after the many times I felt hurt when a friend would pick up their phone while I was talking to them. Was this how others were feeling? When did a screen become more important than the person standing next to you? My nine-year-old brother did get his cellphone for Christmas and my fear was worse than expected. He’s glued to it every moment, always checking his notifications and browsing the internet. If you try to take it away, he screams. If you try to ask him a question, you have to wait. Family has become insignificant and his life has been embedded in a 4.87 oz rectangle.
The world is not going to stop creating new technology. It’s up to us to decide how we are going to use it and how we are going to stay grounded to humanity. Many don’t see cellphones as a conflict and have never thought to think how others feel when they are replaced by a screen. But what if tomorrow never came? Would the conversations with your grandmother still be insignificant? Would you seek to look everyone in the eye instead of browsing their profiles? Would you drive to see a loved one instead of sending a quick text? It’s time for a generation who never looks up to finally see what’s in front of them.
If tomorrow was never promised…would you finally look up?