We’re in the midst of a revolution.
And just like in “I, Robot,” intelligent machines are the cause: smartphones. They’re raising up an army of college students and it’s growing rapidly.
Eighty-one percent of college-aged students have smartphones, according to Pew Research. Two years ago that number was hovering around 49 percent. That’s almost double. So to anyone who says that smartphones aren’t revolutionizing college communication, and communication in general for that matter, you’re nuts.
When I was in high school, whenever I would pull my phone out at the dinner table my mom would have a fit. She would say things like, “C’mon Nick, this is family time,” or “I’m right here, you can talk to me, you know!”
At the time, I was really annoyed at having to put my phone away. Since coming to college, I’ve started to see where my mom is coming from. There is nothing more annoying than trying to talk to someone and having him or her be in a deep conversation with their Twitter account.
I often question what the real consequences are of our intense smartphone usage. When was the last time you had lunch with someone where you weren’t using your phone? What about the last time you walked across the Drillfield without texting?
Over a year ago, I wrote about the potential harmful effects of relying too heavily on digital media.
As communication is transforming, so is the way we interact with one another and make friends. It’s not just about information, it’s about the depth and quality of friendships.
Think about it: How open are you really going to be over a text message? When was the last time you hung out with a close friend and just talked about life, without checking your phone weary of the next appointment you have?
I’ve often wondered if our generation is more socially awkward than the generations before us. Put a phone in front of your grandma and she may be the awkward one, but what about when she puts a person you don’t know in front of you? It almost seems that we have lost the capacity to interact with people and foster deep friendships.
Now you may be thinking that I’m advocating an all-out ban on smartphones. No, no, no — they’re entrenched in our culture. There’s no avoiding them. But what we can do is embrace their positive aspects and not allow them to damage or lessen other important things, like friendships and general human interaction.
So send that last text, tweet that funny joke you’ve been thinking about all day, finally put down your phone and go talk your friend — face-to-face.