Thu. Dec 8th, 2022

My roommate and I sit quietly in our living room. Suddenly, he turns to me and says, “The new iPhone update comes out next week! It’s supposed to be completely different.” In my head I think, “Could there be a less interesting thing to talk about?” But all I utter is, “Oh yea?” and the silence resumes. I’ve known this guy since we were random roommates in our freshman year, and now we are juniors. I find myself getting into more casual conversations with the friends who I’m not nearly as close with, conversations that involve phrases like, “Hey, how’s it going?” and, “What are you doing this weekend?” I would even take the classic back-and-forth banter where guy friends just call each other obscene words instead of having the iPhone update discussion.
I came out of this short interaction with my roommate thinking about whether or not there is anything left for people my age to talk about besides their phones and how they use them. Later that day, my three roommates and I all got food at Sykes food court, came back to our apartment, and sat at the table to eat. I took a bite of my sandwich, looked up, and saw a sad and very revealing answer to my question from earlier in the day; there were three faces lit up by the glow of their smart phones, one hand to eat with and one to hold the phone while their thumb scrolled through their social network site of choice. This continued for the duration of the meal, every now and then one of them would intrude on the vision of the others phone to show a funny picture on Chive or a silly Tweet.
Is this what human interaction has become? You would think that a group of people with at least a high school education would be able to hold a conversation with the people that they see every day. I mean, if you show me a group of twenty-year-olds “hanging out” these days, I can’t help but picture a group of infants sitting together with an inability to communicate with each other.
The most annoying question I get on a regular basis is, “Hey Kevin, when are you going to get a new phone?” I happen to have had the same Verizon LG phone for almost four years…or is it five? It’s been a while is my point. My answer to the question is always exactly the same too, “As soon as data plans are free with the phone, I will get a new phone,” because my attitude towards smart phones has been exactly the same since they first came out–Wow, those things are completely unnecessary and not worth paying for; reason number one being that I have a laptop which does all of the same things.
It is difficult for my friends to understand where this negative attitude towards their phones comes from. I am sure that it has something to do with my cheapskate dad who treats new technologies like a new language and my cheapskate mom who deals with technology on a daily basis and hates it more than my friends hate talking to each other. One of the funniest things to watch is when my dad tries to send a text on his phone, which is the exact same Verizon LG as mine; the face he makes when he’s trying to find the right button reminds me of someone who forgot to wear sunglasses to the beach. My mom currently has an iPhone which was given to her by her work; this I find acceptable. I am simply not willing to pay for a device that will put me out of tune with the things going on around me.
So, I really do encourage the people of my generation to put down the phone and work a little bit on their social skills. Make eye contact with the people around you, or just take a moment to enjoy the feeling of not having your neck pointed down at the same 45 degree angle as it always is. Instead of trying to avoid breaking that awkward silence by whipping out your phone, say something-anything! Heck, say something insane and enjoy the confused stares from people slowly looking up from their phones. My point being, there is a sea of people and opportunity that exists outside of the 8-inch screen in your hand. I suppose I do need to recognize that this is a bit of a David and Goliath situation, where I am David and my entire age group is Goliath, except this time Goliath didn’t even notice David because he was too busy scrolling through Twitter.
Kevin Callan is a third-year student majoring in liberal studies with a minor in journalism. He can be reached at KC765919@wcupa.edu. 

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