College, Smartphones, and Becoming Better

Let me be straightforward with you. I’m a college student and I recently started to dislike smartphones. I’m also stepping away (partly) from technology in general. Here’s why.

I think it’s safe to say that most college students own a smartphone. I don’t have exact numbers, but from what I see on campus, I estimate that easily 80% of college students own a smartphone. Not just a cellphone (which 99% of students have), a smart phone. Anywhere on campus, you’re almost sure to see a blueish glow shining on a few faces.

Walking to class has become a dangerous adventure (huh. while this may not be true, the following events however, I have seen myself, and are 100% true). You have to go through:

  • Smartphone users hitting into each other (!) because they try to use their phone and walk at the same time;
  • People standing still in the middle of hallways, unable to keep walking because they focus on their phone, as if walking suddenly dropped to the bottom of their priorities;
  • People walking very slowly because of reasons said above;
  • Crowds of people blocking the hallway, all looking at a single four inch screen, watching not-so-funny Vine videos and Snapchat pictures.

If you’re still alive by now, congratulations. You are now in class, waiting for the professor to arrive. But wait! It’s not over. You are now surrounded by more smartphone users, watching stupid YouTube videos, playing Candy Crush and… texting. Nearly all people around you look down on their phone, completely ignoring what’s around them.

After being in class for an hour, during which everyone got disturbed by someone accidentally activating Siri in their pocket and by another who received a phone call (bzz, bzz), the teacher allows for a ten-minute break. First thing to do? Smartphones out everyone! Same thing when the class ends. People don’t even bother putting their binders and notebooks in their bags first, they take out their damn phones.

Later you want to have lunch with your friends. Uh-huh, no meaningful conversation for today because we have to talk about the latest Facebook posts! And the best tweets too! “Oh my god, oh my god! You HAVE to see this, it has like, two hundred and twenty likes!”

I want to break away from all this. I, as a human being, was not meant to have my eyes glued to a glowing screen while I could be doing something meaningful. Although social media is all the rage these days, it seems as though people are lonelier and farther from each other than they ever were.

I just find it plain sad to see a couple both staring at their own phone during dinner, barely exchanging a few words over their meals. Same thing goes for people at concerts, looking at the show through a phone screen. Look at the dang show, it’s right there in front of you in full HD retina vision! Experience it, feel it!

Smartphones are distraction generators. No more procrastinating on that project or assignment. Similarly, mindless phone usage happens when you’re waiting in line at the bank, for example. What do you do? You pull it out of your pocket, fiddle around Facebook, update Twitter, etc. Same thing goes in your car when stuck in traffic (which, in fact, is you: you are traffic). Louis CK, in an interview on Conan, puts it best:

You need to build an ability to just be yourself and not be doing something. That’s what the phones are taking away, is the ability to just sit there. That’s being a person.

Human beings are meant to connect with each other, to experience life with all it has to offer by itself, and to become better. I am meant to change the world, in any way possible. So are you. Aren’t we all? This is the main reason behind me feeling that I need to ditch technology a bit, to kick it off my life for a while. I’m just trying to regain my life back. Enough of being isolated on a technology: time to wake up and live.

Here’s how it’s going so far:

  1. I deleted my Facebook account last June and haven’t looked back. I had deleted my first Facebook account about two years ago, but had to come back for team assignments needs. People can meet me in person, email me, or… call me. Calling, in my opinion, is a hundred times better than texting. You exchange more information in much less time and you actually hear a person’s voice with its emotions and intonations, which is completely different from a text message filled with emoticons.
  2. I sold my Galaxy Nexus and use a Nokia 5130 instead. The battery lasts a full week! Makes calls perfectly and is perfect for the occasional text message.
  3. I switched to a paper planner and a Moleskine journal. Bye bye Google Tasks and Google Calendar.

What’s next from here?

  • No technology in my bedroom, which will replace the mindless Reddit browsing with meditation, creative entertainment (guitar, piano, drawing), and writing.
  • I have a list of new habits to implement in my life, and a list of bad habits to ditch.

Isn’t that what life is all about? Becoming better and touching other people’s lives for the best?


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