The Connectivity Illusion

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.