The Advance-Titan

Smartphones mute real life

Technology has become involved in almost everything we do in our everyday lives in one way or another.

Computers are now able to fit inside our pockets in the form of smartphones and are a necessity for just about every person today. The internet is more expansive than ever before, providing users with an immersive experience of the entire world without even leaving their bedroom.

All these developments can be positive, no doubt, but people are not using these privileges sparingly.

I bet most of you reading this article have already checked your phones countless times this morning, myself included. An article from Adweek said, “The average person will spend more than five years of their lives on social media.”

This amount of time surpasses the time an average person will spend physically socializing with other human beings face-to-face and even the biological necessities of eating and drinking.

Smartphones are an incredible invention that have been connecting the people of our world for years. With just a few clicks on your phone you can find the temperature, current events of a place across the globe you’ve never even heard of before and everything in between.

I love my smartphone and I use it for social media every day, but I admit there are some drawbacks with these devices.

With all this connection bringing the world closer together, society is facing a certain disconnect as well. The “social” media phenomenon that goes with our smartphones is actually taking away from real life social communication.

People walk around all day with their eyes glued to their screens, regardless of where they are. The fact people spend so much of their time immersed in their phones has led to a few obvious and extremely detrimental aspects of everyday communication.

Formality is something that goes a long way in communicating in person. Social media has led to a very informal way of communicating with one another. Take Twitter for example. Users post updates with 140 (or 280) characters or less, which doesn’t leave much room for formality.

Texting is guilty of these informalities as well. Texting has become riddled with slang and shorthand abbreviations for users to replace full sentences with in order to make it easier for them to express their thoughts through text messaging. I’m guilty of this just as much as the next person is, but it really is an issue.

What texting and social media have become has lead to people not quite knowing how to communicate as effectively when it comes to direct contact with another person.
People don’t shake hands as much when they meet new people, people don’t maintain eye contact when having a conversation with another person. Instead they bury their nose in their phone and immediately the conversation is as good as nonexistent.

With the amount of posting people do on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, people have limited room for small talk with others out in the “real world.” When you come across a person from your graduating high school class, and you want to catch up with them a little bit, there isn’t much to talk about that you don’t already know about each other.

That trip you went on over the summer? You posted an album to Facebook. The nice anniversary dinner someone shared with their significant other? You saw that Instagram post yesterday. The fact that you almost just got cut off in traffic on your way to meet the other person? You tweeted about it as soon as you stepped out of your car.

We as a society need to limit our time on our screens because this is a major problem. We can do this by simply putting our phone in our pockets once in a while. Leave your phone at your house when you go for a walk or turn it off when you go for dinner with friends. The list of ways to minimize your time looking at your screen goes on and on. Quit looking at the world through your smartphone camera or through photo albums posted by someone else. Get out there and enjoy it for yourself.

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Independent Student Newspaper of the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh
Smartphones mute real life