• Patrick McAndrew

I Have No Idea How We Do What We Do

I got a smartphone a few months ago. Yes, “Mr. Low Tech Man” himself got a smartphone. Mostly it was because my last phone died a slow and painful death. The screen discolored, then the screen was upside down, before going completely dark, causing my inability to see who I was texting or calling. And, just like that, I was brought into the second decade of the 21st century. And yes, I did consider a flip phone.

Surprisingly, it hasn’t been too much of an adjustment. It has been nice having it for a few things. The camera is super nice and one of my favorite apps, Genius Scan, allows you to scan things through your smartphone. Maybe not the best protocol regarding privacy, but it certainly is convenient. I do find, however, that a smartphone is a lot of stimulus for my brain. While it has been helpful to have email while on the go from time to time, it’s still something I don’t want. I am beta testing my smartphone usage right now, but I’m still not much in the vein as seeing it as an absolute necessity. Maybe some time in the near future? Who knows!

What baffles me is how society uses these things. As I mentioned above, I feel a lot of external stimuli from this phone. It can be a bit overwhelming sometimes how much we can do with our smartphones and how the world is literally at our fingertips. With that said, I don’t have the e-mail app, social media apps, or any other notifications (besides text messages, calls, and any setting updates that the phone decides to make at random intervals). In order to access the Internet, I go through Safari.

Like a lot of normal folk, I check my email probably a little too often via my laptop. And, like a lot of normal folk, I get many emails that are often pointless noise. I click the little box next to these emails and then hit delete to make my inbox a clean database of to-do’s or get-back-to’s. It’s a system that works for me.

But then I thought about how many people have social media apps and the email app and how their phone buzzes EVERY. SINGLE. TIME there is an email, social media notification, or something happening in the news. We don’t have any control over how often this happens! Facebook notifications are now just a ploy to get us to sign in. When we sign in (or for those of you always signed in), we check out our notifications and it says, “So-So, who you haven’t talked to since 7thgrade, liked a picture of someone you haven’t talked to since 8th grade.” I never liked the photo, I never commented on the photo, but Facebook is deeming it absolutely necessary to let me know this detail. Just to get me to sign in. And the craziest part…IT WORKS! I see I have a couple of notifications and think, “Gee…I wonder what this can be. Perhaps a friend has sent me an important message! Perhaps a fun outing as been planned and I have been invited!” I sign in and, lo’ and behold, its garbage. I was foiled yet again by Facebook and their crafty algorithms.

I cannot imagine having this useless, yet seemingly urgent, information buzzing and notifying me on my phone throughout the day. This would constantly interrupt important tasks, important meetings, or important time spent with family and friends. As I thought about this being the case in our modern digital age, it makes so much sense that depression and anxiety are on the rise. Social media apps are constantly hijacking our days to provide us with information that won’t really impact us in a positive way and the email app is often distracting us with ads or unimportant emails.

There is a direct correlation between how happy we are and how much we feel in control of our days and, therefore, our lives. If we feel like we have control over our environment and circumstances, we will more than likely be very happy people. If we feel like our lives are just happening to us and we are subjects of another’s agenda, we won’t feel in control and, therefore, not very happy. With our smartphones bombarding our daily lives on a regular basis, it is becoming increasingly more and more difficult to feel in control of our lives.

I have no idea how we do what we do, but it certainly needs to change. If we live our lives dictated by technology, another person, or by some other external force, we will become paralyzed and unable to fulfill our goals and dreams. We won’t be able to become the person we are meant to become because we will feel held back by society. We won’t believe in ourselves or our capabilities and this will lead to a downward spiral of self-doubt, isolation, and indifference about life. On the positive side, we may think we are the passenger in a car, but we are actually in the driver’s seat. We are steering our lives and where we end up. The sooner we realize that, the sooner we can achieve happiness. The sooner we ignore the craziness on the side of the road, no matter how distracting or enticing it may be, the sooner we can focus on the path ahead and accomplish our mission.

We mustn’t let a device rule our lives. We must be in control of our time and not let external stimuli affect us so strongly. This way we will be able to achieve the happiness we want so desperately.

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