I Lost My Phone & Got A Life

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Young people’s lives today are filled with so much technology from smartphones to segways but how are these affecting the authenticity of our day ­to ­day interactions?

How Was Your Day

About a month ago I lost my iPhone. Yes I know what you’re thinking –  it sounds like a nightmare. At first I had some serious withdrawal symptoms, panicking about being disconnected from my friends and freaking out because I couldn’t post on social media. But now I feel relieved – in fact I’ve never felt better.

Don’t get me wrong, I have thought about replacing it a few times. However, I realised because of our constant use of Snapchat, Instagram and WhatsApp, we seem to be regressing into a virtual sense of reality. We indulge in the power of smartphones to replace the genuine act of living. I was especially guilty of this, using my smartphone within minutes of waking up, on the tube, in class, during lunch, whilst with friends, on the way home, before bed.

Friendships were constructed around messaging apps. My sense of direction became close to none, as I’d always have Google Maps open to help guide me somewhere. Not only did it replace my ability to get around, it was also the only way I could get around. If I needed to leave a party in Clapham at 3 am, I’d call an Uber, or use Citymapper to find out which night bus to take.

Smartphone addiction has been a popular topic lately in PSHE programs. We are told repeatedly to engage with our surroundings and become one with nature.

Does this coincide with increasing levels of anxiety amongst teenagers? Instead of developing face ­to­ face social skills, we’ve fallen out of love with ‘real­ life’, and into love with perfecting our Snapchat Story. When shoved into an awkward real ­life situation, we don’t know how to act or react.

“I don’t stress about updating my friends about the latest chia seed smoothie I’ve had, or about the new thrift shop I’ve found.”

A professor at California State University has stated that if we are ‘glued to technology 24/7, it’s going to have an effect on social skills it’s just natural.’ The use of our phones as a social  crutch is severely affecting how young people are interacting with the ‘traditional’ sense of reality. When we use objects compulsively, it is possible for them to become an extension of ourselves. This has been described as ‘self­ induced anxiety’  as we feel immense amounts of stress if our phones go missing.

A study was carried out in Bournemouth University where 125 volunteers were deprived of their phones for a week. Many students described it as  feeling constantly anxious and fidgety and some started reaching for their phone even though they knew it wasn’t there.

Now before leaving home, armed with my Nokia brick, I write down the address of my destination on the back of my hand. If I get lost, I ask someone in the street. When I sit down to have lunch with my friends I’m forced to speak with them, even if they’re talking at me, looking down at their laps to their smartphones. I don’t stress about updating my friends about the latest chia seed smoothie I’ve had, or about the new thrift shop I’ve found.

I’ve discovered side streets, independent bookstores and even a jazz cafe. It’s an addiction I am happy to be free of and I’m going to continue to live my life stress free instead of going back simply to fit in.

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