Are Phones Hijacking Society


Picture of iPhone X. Photo credit to Verizon Wireless

Nicholas Silva, Layout Editor

Every second, across the nation and the world, phones chirp, beckoning their human masters. But are the humans really the masters anymore, or have they become slaves to technology? Every month, millions of iPhones, tablets, and other handheld electronic devices are purchased by the masses. This is partially due to companies, such as Apple, releasing up to several new versions of their product per year. While past generations might have looked to their devices and said, “If it isn’t broken, why replace it?”, the newer generations say “Oh, new phone, I didn’t need those six hundred dollars anyway!” This is an unsustainable practice, both financially for the bulk of the population, but also due to materials. The earth is not full of infinite resources such as the gold, silver, and platinum which are used in the circuits, screens, and other odds and ends of most, if not all smart devices.

Aside from wanting to have the newest phone to look ‘cool’ or feel good, people are glued to their devices. One cannot walk down a city street or school corridor without seeing countless people walking around, staring at their phone, like mindless drones. It is not too much of a stretch to think of a person blindly walking onto a busy street after seeing students colliding in the halls every minute because of their distraction. People cannot even put their phones down while driving. Recent studies by the National Safety Council show that about 26% of all car accidents can be attributed to distracted driving due to phone use.

However, despite the awareness of the threat, people continue to text, talk, and otherwise use their devices while driving. They say ‘it will never happen to me’ or ‘I can multitask’, putting their life and the lives of others on the line because they cannot stand to be separated from their phones and social media for just a few minutes.

Phones are a problem, and while they provide a wealth of information at the tap of a screen, they also cause people not to think. If a person can find the answer to any question at any time, they no longer have to think, learn, or research. They can access a world of information, but are hit with it so fast, most often in a passing moment during a conversation, that it does not stick, even if they had to remember it. Also, even if one does do research, most people just buy the first answer that they receive.

Furthermore, while once viewing phones as the worst creation ever, schools are now adopting iPhones as a tool just like any pen, pencil, or notebook. In some cases they are even replacing these time honored utilities. While phones certainly can be helpful in research or taking a quick note, and it is certainly better for schools to embrace technology rather than ostracizing it, some are taking it too far. There are some classes where the entire lesson revolves around using a phone. Contrary to popular belief, not everyone has a phone, much less a smartphone. The overuse of phones in the classroom puts these students at a distinct disadvantage. There are not always enough computers to go around, and resources cannot always be available in print, leaving phoneless kids in the dark, or to play catch up when they get home.

There is also another problem with introducing phones as a required tool for school. It makes it normal, and acceptable, to sit on it all class. This, mixed with social media frenzies, and the memory of an anti-phone education system, make students feel like they are getting their way all day. This means that going into the workforce; they will now feel like it is acceptable to rely upon a phone for everything, or to sit on it all day without consequence.

Further, it strengthens a child’s tie to their phone. During one’s formative years, habits are easily formed. School too, is designed to impart upon the student the tools needed to succeed. If there were ever a time for people to not be glued to phones, it is during their childhood, and at school.

An unfortunate side effect of technological dependence is an erosion of social interactions. Fitting in well in society, and performing in a conversation is already a difficult undertaking for many, and a reliance on a phone, especially the fragmentation provided by texts or Instagram, make it even harder. Most people, when together, simply sit on their phones, completely ignoring each other. They take selfies, text other people, or even just scroll through the endless tweets or snaps of people they will likely never know. People rarely even make a phone call anymore, opting instead for a quick text, removing all of the human aspect; all the emotion and context of a statement are lost to digital symbols, sent across the void of telecommunications.

In all, phones -while providing many benefits, such as constant contact with friends and the world, as well as access to valuable information- are eroding the base of a functional society. People are being trained to rely upon phones, with the devices specifically designed to target the rewards center of the brain, just like most drugs. Also, phones promote people to communicate using impersonal means if at all, and to be anchored to meaningless accounts of others’ lives on social media, instead of living their own.