In this post I discuss our relationship with our phones and issues surrounding them. You can find my previous post on free stuff here
Could you live without your phone? Our relationship with our phones has become more significant than ever. Statistics have shown that Irish phone usage is the highest in the Western world. As well as this, research has shown that in 2013, Ireland had more phones than people.
But with all these smartphones around, there are problems that come with them.
A culture of silence and heads buried in screens….a silent conversation killer…. A smartphone prison.
Have we become too attached? Is your phone a limb?’’
A College View
Myself and Ann spoke to fellow college students about their relationship with their phones, to establish the role their devices play in their lives. We also touch on social media as an extension of the phone topic.
What does your phone mean to you?
K : It’s everything. You’ve got it all on your phone nowadays. There’s Facebook, Instagram for socializing. Your finances on your phone, reading, games that are highly addictive, emails, Netflix, everything. And if you haven’t got internet, you’re screwed.
And how would you feel if you didn’t have your phone?
K: Nowadays, I think I would struggle. But I grew up in a different country, where I didn’t have a phone or internet. so I could go three or four months without it. But when I came back I was out of the loop on everything.
It keeps you in the know. The news and all, everything’s online. You can’t live without your phone nowadays.
Could you do without your phone for a few months in Ireland?
K: Gladly. You see that thing on Facebook ” would you stay in this cabin for a million quid for four months, no internet,no phone, nothing” I’d do it for free. Just get everything away from me.
And how do you feel about your phone Leagh?
L : I would find it quite difficult to be without it at the moment because my family and I are out from half six in the morning til half six in the evening, so to keep in touch with each other to arrange buses and lifts together, I’d need it.
My phone does mean an awful lot to me, because I can check my emails for college while I’m in here. I can check Facebook to keep in touch with quite a few friends from America, rather than spending loads of money trying to text through phone/cell towers. So I would find it quite….useful.
Do you think young people get an adrenaline rush off their phones, like a need for attention?
L : I know people who, when they don’t get enough likes on a selfie from Instagram or a Facebook post, will take it down and repost it later when they know more people are online. I have a friend who is addicted to constantly getting the new phone, she has to have the newest phone within three days of it coming out and I’m just like ”why?”
My phone is God knows how many years old, a Samsung J3 or something.
Kash, do you think there will be a clinic specifically for mobile phone addiction in the future?
K: No, we’re trying hard enough to get injection centers at the moment, and that’s difficult… you’re talking like thirty years when we have microchips in our heads before we get anything like that.
But it will be needed.When my nephew was three, he knew how to play Runescape and had the highest score on it. They know how to work everything better than an adult. They’re showing the adults, and it’s ridiculous.
They’re getting younger way too fast, my niece has an iPhone! I was eighteen before I got one! My first phone was a Nokia 3310, and all you could do was ring and text.
We also spoke to a couple of lads, Keith and Adam.
Keith, what does your phone mean to you?
K: I suppose it’s a means of communication for me. I find myself using it more for social media than actual communication.
And how would you feel if you had to live without your phone?
K: During the summer working I lived in a house with no WiFi. The whole social media aspect wasn’t there anymore, so I didn’t really look at my phone at all, apart from calls. I used it for it’s purpose and not superficial things.
So you don’t feel you’d be lost without a phone…
Do you think it’s the younger people that are addicted to phones?
K: Yeah it is. It’s an individual thing as well. But it’s really big with teens at the moment.
Adam, what does your phone mean to you?
A: For me, it’s a form of wasting time. When I should be doing loads, I’m just on my phone.
Could you be without it?
A: I think I could do a better job than some, but it would definitely be an adjustment to get used to it, for sure.
Are people getting more addicted to their phones now?
A: Yeah for sure. There’s a problem I’d say around my age demographic, but it’s probably 12 – 15 year olds that are super into Snapchat and stuff like that.
Last Christmas, we had this thing at dinner time where all the phones went into a cookie jar. My cousin, who’s 15, had a problem where she couldn’t deal with not having her phone. She had a weird tic thing, tapping her hand off the table.
There’s something weird with this notion of having to be on your phone all the time. I think it affects them a lot more, where there is depression and stuff involved.
Some quick – fire questions to a few more students:
Did you notice you were on your phones whilst eating at the same time?
”No,we do it a lot, we don’t notice at all”.
Could you live without your phones?
No, I’d freak! I’d need something to be looking at.”
And you always eat whilst on the phone?
”Not all the time”
What do you be looking at on your phones?
”Facebook, Snapchat and the rest.”
Okay, roughly how long each day would you spend on your phones?
”Most of the day”
Would you say your phone is part of your body, like a limb?
” Yeah definitely, it would be like missing a part of me, going out without it.”
Have you noticed the phenomenon of sitting quietly on phones, without talking, in your social group? Would they see it as rude?
”No, because they do it too, we all do.”
Is there anyone you know who’d find it rude?
” Our parents and grandparents, the older generation”.
”Get off that f***king phone!”
An educated insight is always good to have on a topic like this. Noel spoke to Ian, a psychologist and keen musician, about the true nature of mobile phones according to him.
Ian wrote a piece of music about mobile phones, with colorful lyrics including ”get off that f**king phone”. He explained his motivation to write such a piece.
”I wrote this piece because of the invasive nature of communication technology on the human race at the moment. I wanted to take an ironic kind of viewpoint on it. Technology is brilliant and amazing, but I think it’s used in a very negative way to control people. It distracts from communication on a face to face level. It divides people into single entities that can be manipulated through that phone.
I would agree it’s a universal problem, not just young people. I suffer from it too. I write all my notes on my phone. I record on my phone. I take photos and put them on Facebook. People get very embroiled in it. It’s like anything. The way these social media networks manipulate you, is that they void you off and make you feel like a lesser human being, to try and sell you shit. It goes for all ages.
I know certain people and musicians that don’t have a smartphone or a social media presence for anonymity. You just don’t have a private life anymore when you have a smartphone in your back pocket.”
Ian harks back to a day where face to face communication, including romantic pursuits, was the only option – in his case, under the famous Clery’s Clock.
”The song goes into that message of speaking in real time, call to my home, never try and text me. Connection with other human beings, eye contact, not phone contact through Face time or whatever. It’s soul destroying and not as fulfilling in any way compared to contact with real people.”
”Hello Darkness, My Old Friend…”
We asked a fellow student Graeme to be without his phone for a day, as a social experiment. He reflected on the absence of his phone, in a humorous and dramatic confession.
‘‘I’ve gone almost an entire day with no phone. I am bored. I’d love to tell you what time it is but I can’t as I’ve no phone, maybe after midnight? I haven’t been able to check Facebook, I don’t know what’s going on in the world, a lot of stuff may have happened. I have to go home to no Netflix, no YouTube….I may have to resort to reading a book, which is just horrific! It’s just a bad experience. I don’t like this, not having my phone. I feel naked without it. I feel an emptiness in my pocket where the phone usually sits.”
My Phone And Me
To answer the question, my phone is definitely a limb of sorts. I would carry it almost anywhere. It’s precious cargo, you don’t want anyone else taking it. And I would be gutted were it to be stolen. I understand the feeling of emptiness without it, the familiar feeling of panic when the pockets are empty where the phone should be.
That said, I think I could go a short while without it., and could even embrace it. I would struggle with the compulsive need to be in the know every day, through social networking and news sites, but we’ve got TV for that. Though it’s not as instant or as varied. TV may be a good filter though, as you would only be told the ”important” stuff, if you stick to the hard news channels. If I were going cold turkey though, I’d want to ban the TV along with it, as it can have the same addictive qualities. Ever have a power cut? You just make do.
Simon Sinek makes a number of good points about phones killing young people’s social skills. They are a crutch that hinder real conversation ”how are you, oh really, how did you feel about that”. He points to a waiting room scenario where everyone’s buried in their screens as opposed to acknowledging each other.
I’ve certainly noticed this in my own college. You could have a canteen full of people, a table of four, all looking downwards , not a word.
This also applies to meal times. Sinek suggests leaving phones at home when eating out. When you bring your phone and give it your prolonged attention at the table, it is at the expense of those around you, sending a subconscious message that they are not important in that moment. Again, I’m guilty of this.
He urges us to leave phones downstairs at night to avoid distracting from our sleep. Ever wake up and start scrolling through various apps? I cant tell you how many times I, and undoubtedly a lot of us, have done this. Again, it’s a crutch that doesn’t really help when you think about it.
Phones release dopamine, the same chemical we get from gambling and drinking. Is it any wonder we become addicted, with this in mind?
He makes a good point in putting the phone down and just witnessing the world around you, where ideas happen. Don’t eat and text, enjoy the food first. I’m on board with that.
A Part Of Us Now…And Forever?
Mobile phones are our past, present and future. I’m sure they will continue to grow and revolutionize how we communicate. Just look at Siri on the iPhone. There’s no telling what the next few decades of communication technology will bring us.
They set alarms, book appointments, send important messages, even host the occasional break up if you’re that type of person.
They do a lot for us. But, they also take a lot in exchange. Our time, our money, our attention, and at worst, our relationships.
We should be mindful of how much we are investing in our phones, and above all else, acknowledge life beyond our screens.
*Special thanks to Noel and Ann for their work in this topic*