Editorial: #GetOffYourPhone

Story by The Baker Orange Editorial Board

We’re all guilty of it – pulling out our phones in any and every situation. Today, it’s sadly the norm to walk into a room and see nearly everyone glued to their phone or another electronic device.

While technology has been a crucial part of advancing human experience, it has cut face-to-face interactions to an all-time low. Many people, especially college students, can’t do anything without looking at their phone. Whether they’re out to eat, hanging with friends or driving, it appears that nothing can tear people away from those little, lighted screens.

One study, cited by CNN, found that on average, people spend almost four hours a day scrolling away. And while four hours may not seem like a lot, if you add that up, over a course of a week, more than a whole day is wasted.

The same study found that 70 percent of people turn to their phones when they’re alone in a crowd to make themselves look busier and to avoid communicating with others. More than half of those surveyed have texted friends in the same building as opposed to walking to go see them. While many pull out their phones to check the latest trending topic or Snapchat their current situation, more than 40 percent of people have reported using their phones without knowing why, as if pulling them out has become second nature.

With each generation spending more and more time communicating via technology, or in some cases not communicating at all, it’s unnerving to imagine what will become of face-to-face communication, if it survives. When students spend time communicating solely through text messages or social media, they deny themselves necessary practice needed to develop the social skills required in today’s professional environments. Because of all of the time on tech, even simple skills such as interpreting others’ emotions or feeling comfortable with interpersonal communication are becoming difficult for young people to develop.

While we are all guilty of it, we can all admit that it is hurtful and irksome when we’re trying to hold a conversation with someone who can’t be bothered to look up from their phone. Not only is it annoying, but it’s deceptively rude to have someone staring at a phone when you’re trying to have a conversation with them.

Just like alcohol or drugs, technology can become an addiction, and like any addiction, the habit is hard to break. But we must ask ourselves, is it really that important to double-tap a picture of your best friend’s breakfast, or scroll down the endless feed of mindless tweets and Facebook posts? Or should we take the time to look up and acknowledge the homo sapiens around us?

We should practice our phone etiquette when we are at the dinner table, hanging with friends or just having a conversation. We should put our phones away for at least a few minutes of the day. Go for a short walk and leave your phone behind. You might be surprised at the things you see outside the world of social media.

A real smile is worth so much more than an emoji.