Why I want to throw my phone into the Cam
I’m addicted to my phone but I don’t know how to give it up
This year marks the 25th anniversary of the first ever text message. It was sent by Neil Papwell, a British engineer, from his computer to an Orbitel 901. Since then, technology has progressed leaps and bounds. Yes, it’s made our lives easier. But I would argue its made the quality of our lives far worse.
Social media is essential to how I live. Simply put, there’s no way I could cope without it. Not only does it allow me to immediately contact my friends, but a lot of my scheduling is also done on it: sport groups, event invitations, and college pages are all on Facebook. I think this aspect of it is great.
What I find frustrating is everything else, primarily the fact that our constantly updating newsfeeds give the appearance that all our our ‘friends’ are happy, popular and successful. This, naturally, leads to feelings of inferiority.
The irony is that this shouldn’t even be the case. Social media presents a distorted sense of reality. It’s merely a snapshot of one’s experiences. Someone may be miserable, and all it takes is for one smiling, filtered photo to give the appearance that they are not.
So why do we use it so much? Sure, it’s a boredom killer. But also, when a photo of mine is liked, or I am tagged in some generic meme, I instantly feel validated and important because someone bothered to think about me. This simply cannot happen in real life. The only comparison would be gathering your many hundred ‘friends’ into a room and have them constantly scream compliments at you. With only a few clicks, social media makes you feel better than you ever can in your real life.
This leads to constant refreshing of feeds. I crave the dopamine hit and want it again and again. Constantly switching between apps means my attention is never focussed on anything for a significant period of time, and when I have to concentrate, I often struggle. The fact that I can rarely go half an hour without checking my phone prevents me from working or taking proper care of myself. I’ll often complain to my parents that I never have any time in a day, only to have spent 2-3 hours of that on my phone.
And for what? Broadcasting idealised snapshots of your lie to an amorphous group of acquaintances? It’s a complete waste of time. If we take a step back and analyse the bigger picture, does it really truly matter how many likes you get on a photo? Does anyone remember the meme they were tagged in after about a minute? What is the point of snapchat streaks? We’re now so preoccupied with capturing and showing off our memories that we in fact fail to make them ourselves.
This almost drug-like dependence on our phones is affecting real-life relationships. Social media ironically leads to social isolation, with many people preferring to communicate virtually. It’s a sad state of affairs when you’re trying to talk to someone in the buttery, or at a social event, and they’re more interested in what’s going on on their phone. But why bother having to deal with the unpredictable stress of face-to-face interaction when you can just send a text message, amirite?
So what can be done? I can’t eliminate social media entirely – it’s essential to the way I live my life. So I won’t actually be throwing my phone into the Cam, but I realise a more balanced approach to technology is necessary. It helps to think that nothing I can ever do on my phone makes progress in real life, or makes me happy as real people. None of it is real and all of it means nothing. In 20 or 30 years time I don’t want to look back on my adolescence only for it to be filled with memories of me looking at a screen.
The massive technological advance in the past 25 years has made our lives infinitely easier. It’s in within our hands to make sure it doesn’t make our lives worse.