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Opinion

Smartphone addition creates anti-social campus

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February 25, 2015

The other day I was eating breakfast in an emptier side of the Riverside Commons when I witnessed a sight that has become all too familiar.

A few minutes after I had sat down, two men filled the table next to me. After a brief minute of small talk between the two of them, the two quickly buried their heads into their smartphones and said very little to each other for the rest of their breakfast. That little moment of every day modern life opened my eyes to the severity of our society’s addiction to cell phones.

Now, I know what you’re thinking: Here’s just another guy writing about how cell phones are bad and we’re missing so much in the world…yada yada yada. I’m not though. The other side of my story is that I too was on my phone. Most people with smartphones are addicted to them and that’s not going to change. Personally, I have tried to detox myself from my phone several times with no success.

I have had nights where I plan to put my iPhone on airplane mode and shove it in the drawer, only to drag it out 10 minutes later because I just had to know some pressing information on Wikipedia. I mean, come on, we have all been in those situations where you just have to know if Steve Buscemi went to college. My point though is that our addiction is killing our social lives.

I often wonder if people really even know their friends and significant others as well as those in the past did because these days. Now, there’s two screens in between them. On any given day in the University Center, you will see groups of friends huddled around tables but nobody saying anything of note because their social media feed has captured them. This lack of analogue social interaction is destroying our ability to read and understand very important social cues.

This and our preference to communicate through digital mediums have lead to a rise in cases of depression, anxiety, and extreme loneliness. If this trend continues, the future of this society doesn’t sound that great. To combat this problem and my own growing addiction to my phone, I have created a resolution for myself. From now on, I will have no interaction with my phone for one whole hour a day.

I suppose I should be a bit more specific though. In this hour, I will still have my phone handy in case of an emergency but I will not be perusing my “news feed” or reading the latest ClickHole article. Instead, I will interact with my friends and try to get to know them and the world around me a little better. This may not sound like much but I’m certain that I will notice a difference. Maybe if we all adopted this plan, the world wouldn’t feel as lonely as it does right now.

Matthew Clark is a junior journalism student. Besides being the music director at WRFW and the circulation manager at the Student Voice, Clark has become an accomplished musician, performing with the likes of Chicago and Daughtry. He has also contributed to a few movie soundtracks.