So I take the subway to work every morning. And each of these mornings I look around me and all I see are people staring at their phones as if the world inside of these small boxes is more real than what happens around them. Kids sitting next to each other on their way to school, not talking about their wishes and dreams, not about their friends or homework, not talking at all. Instead they dive into a digital world. A world designed to support people in their daily lives. Not to become their life.
Internet and smartphones – Blessing or curse?
Lately I’ve been thinking a little about what smartphones and social media does to us. When I was younger, I was really annoyed by my parents telling me to put away my phone. Them going on about how useless it all was and how we all became brainwashed. And how we should enjoy or own lifes instead of following the supposedly perfect lifes of strangers or people we pretend to know because we’re facebook friends. I would always defend my sweet little iPhone, explaining how it brings people together and helps to communicate with friends all over the world.
Today I still think it is a helpful tool when it comes to someones international network. But I also think that in general, the internet isn’t promoting communication. It is killing it. We (and especially the younger ones) forget how to talk, how to walk up to someone and start a conversation. Because hidden behind the anonymity of a keyboard or a phone screen, it’s just so much easier to communicate. But at the same time, it’s worth so much less.
We must look like idiots
When I sit the in the subway, between checking messages and scrolling through facebook, I sometimes look up and see an old lady or a man in his 70s, just sitting there, watching the people around them. They watch and think, because when not checking out a cute cat video or someones breakfast online, you’ve got time to do that. Think.
Each time I wonder: What goes on in their minds? They must believe that our generation simply is stupid. Antisocial, weird and unfriendly. Because in their world, people just start a random conversation in the subway without being seen as creepy.
Once an old friendly man started talking to me and the girl sitting next to me. The girl looked uncomfortable and didn’t know if she should say something. Admittedly, I myself was a bit surprised too, wondering why he suddenly talks to us. But then I remembered. That’s just what people do, in the real world. They talk to each other. So I smiled at him and chatted a little, hoping that maybe I made his morning a little more pleasant and his view on our generation a little better.
Not that I was any better…
At this point I need to say that even though I think a lot is wrong with our smartphone usage, I’m just as bad as everyone else. Which makes the whole thing even worse . I know that things are wrong but I can’t help myself. I keep my phone close to me and take a look at it far too often, expecting that something exciting has happened. Most of the times, there’s nothing new. Especially nothing exciting. When its battery dies, I’m feeling a little lost and cut off from the rest of the world. But in fact, that might be the only time that I’m fully present in the world.
Sometimes I feel like I just want to throw my iPhone out of the window. So that I could be completely focused on what is going on around me. On what I am doing or who I’m talking to or maybe just on doing nothing. But in the next moment I think about how urgently I need my phone around and that my social life would die without it. Isn’t that a sad thought? Are we really the slaves of these stupid devices? It seems like it and the fact that we know it, doesn’t change a thing.
Priorities: Online world > real life?
Ever catched yourself sitting together with a bunch of lovely, fun people, picking up your phone to see if someone has texted you? Someone who’s not there? Because that woudl for some reason be more interesting than your friends who are right next to you?
Or have you ever been standing in the middle of a crowded club, dancing like nobody was watching (even though everyone is watching, but who cares), suddenly feeling the urge to take out your phone to make a snapchat, or an Instagram story or whatever the fuck is “in” these days? Standing there like an idiot, filming yourself and your drunk friends, trying to show everyone who’s not in the club that you are having heaps of fun?
Because of course, it is important that each and every instagram friend out there knows that you and your gang is rocking it tonight. Because all the cool kids are out partying, right? And all the cool kids stop partying once in a while, to take a video of how “freakin’ awesome” their night is. #partywiththegurls. Because you only had a great night if everyone knows about it. If it’s not on social media, it never happened, right?
What about the future?
I wonder what life is going to be like in fifteen years. Will people even talk to each other? Will there be anyone sitting in the subway who takes a look at the people around him? Will people pay money to go on phone withdrawal treatments because they are too addicted to put down their phones for more than two minutes on their own? What will social life look like? Will there even be something like that? Or only a social media life?
I don’t know where all these thoughts came from. I know that they’re a little chaotic and also obvious but I just needed to get them out of my system, right into the system that’s responsible for them. Sharing them online with people I don’t even know. What a twisted world.