In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “An Extreme Tale.”
When has the quote“ It was the best of times, it was the worst of times” applied to my crazy life specifically? That is a tall order to ask. I tend to envision myself as a glass half full (or a why do people ask unanswerable questions) kind of person. I make a conscious effort to remember the good times, and try to forget about the times that were tough, or markedly regrettable. However, among all the time periods of my short, and rather tumultuous lifetime, one specific span stands out. High School.
Yes, I said high school. And for those of you who have checked out, and are ready to click back to a site containing less teenage angst, let me assure you, my post will not be focused on the inevitable sorrow that comes with most adolescent stories. I now look back upon my years of schooling, and have decided that they really were not so bad after all. I have had to suck up my pride and admit that maybe (I said maybe, I am not ready for complete admission yet) my parents knew a thing or two about this whole adulthood situation. I could tell you woeful tales filled with the wonderments of endless homework for AP classes, and the stress of college applications. I could waste your time with anecdotes of social unrest, and failed romance. Or even spin tales of top quality family drama reserved especially for primetime network television. All of these stories would be uninformative, because all in all, I had life pretty good, and most peoples high school stories are quite akin to my own. So for that reason, I can skip the worst of times, and get right to the good stuff.
I now reminisce on my days of schooling, and wonder at how marvelous they really were. First and foremost because the only bills I had to pay in high school were for the the gas in my Jeep, my ticket to the prom, and the piles of food my buddies and I consumed constantly. Being a fiscally responsible member of society proves not to be as freeing as I thought that it would. And secondly, high school is the last time I was able to be a kid, and just have fun. My friends were only ever a “bathroom break”, and I could “chill” with them almost constantly. I was able to perform in a competition show choir, which is an opportunity only afforded to most people during high school (I got to dress up as Flynn Ryder from Disney’s Tangled, and if thats not epic, I don’t know what is). There were entire weeks that were essentially duplicate halloweens just to celebrate homecoming, or the end of a semester. I was woken up at 4 am and “kidnapped” by beautiful girls and taken out to breakfast before school (the catch you may ask: I had to wear a Mickey Mouse costume that consisted of black tights, red cheerleading shorts and red suspenders to school all day). My friends and I could spend entire weekends, week after week, sitting by the lake, fishing and drinking sweet tea. I could stand under those proverbial friday night lights, and be a hero for two hours. High school was the time period where anything was possible, and I was invincible.
Now, I am not so invincible, and I have duties,and responsibilities. Do I hate being an adult? No! Would I want to go back to high school? Definitely not. But high school was a time in my life where mistakes were encouraged, and exploration was praised. Maybe the lesson in all of this is that as we grow up, we make life too serious. I say we all do something crazy,and spontaneous every once in a while. It makes that whole responsibility thing way easier to deal with.
Are we, the people of the technology generation, really as connected as we claim to be. Can we claim that our devices, as advanced as they have become, are suitable substitutes for real interaction?
As I was scrolling through the info-verse yesterday I stumbled across fantastic article by She’s a Maineiac. It detailed the struggles of a newly converted smart phone user, and how her new smartphone seemed to be sucking her life away. The reason? The immense amount of information available at our fingertips on the screen of a smartphone has a gravitational pull not unlike that of a black hole. Once we get our information hungry hands on a smart phone, its almost impossible to rip them away. Erin Schmidt, the Executive Chairman, once estimated the size of the internet at over 5 billion gigabytes of data. With new content being constantly added, it is easy to see how addicting a device with instant access to all of this information becomes.
These addictions are more real than we would like to think, and even I am guilty of such a condition. I am positive that I am not the only one who, upon realizing I have forgotten my phone at home, suddenly feels my heart sink.Presumably, I’m not alone in having a compulsive urge to check my phone every minute in a frantic desperation for new content. Whether that be a text message, a snapchat, or a new post on a social media site, the constant desire for an update on the cyber world keeps my mind and eyes fixed on the evil little glowing device.
Does checking my device constantly really keep me engaged and updated? As I began to ponder this conundrum, I realized that these devices are not the saviors they claim to be.They are in fact, the ultimate prison. They tether us to charging ports, Wi-Fi hot-spots, and service areas. Our eyes and ears are fettered to a tiny glowing screen. We are engrossed in a false sense of reality. What happened to the old days? Where waiting in public meant striking a conversation with the stranger next to you, and hanging out with friends was not merely a mutual use of smartphones. How much do we miss when we put our headphones in, and stare endlessly at a screen? The new iPhone 6 has an 8 megapixel camera, while the human eye captures images at 576 megapixels. An hour long phone conversation carries more informational and emotional content than a whole day of text messages could ever hope to convey. How much better would our relationships be if we took the time to truly have a conversation with someone, and look them in the eye? Or to talk on the phone and maybe even write a letter instead of exchanging emotionless texts.
Information is fantastic, and the access we have to it is now greater and faster than ever. As amazing as our new technologies are, I challenged myself to experience my information. If I put my phone down, there is so much more information around me than there will ever be on the internet. I challenge you to do the same. Break the bonds of your smartphone. Talk with new people, genuinely interact with your friends, take in the sights and sounds around you, read a book, take a walk. If you genuinely invest your time in experiencing the people and the world around you, there is more to be learned than can there will ever be in the virtual world on our phone screens.