Quick note: This post is a modified version of an article I wrote for the opinion section of an independent news site at Liberty in November 2013. The site has since deleted all of my articles, so I am taking the liberty to repost some of my work on my personal blog. Enjoy!
A few days ago, I sat alone in a corner booth at a diner writing a paper. As my brain slowly melted from analyzing literature, I couldn’t help but watch the people around me, and I was stunned at what I observed. As I looked around, I saw that every person at every table was looking at a glowing screen. Granted, I had my own laptop screen in front of me, so I’m not guiltless, but there were couples, groups of friends, and one-on-one conversations – all fixated on their phones instead of the living, breathing human beings in front of them. Two girls were Snapchatting their entire meal with a third party. Several people were reading aloud from the occasional Facebook post from one of those ever-popular college crushes pages. Very few were invested in meaningful conversations with each other.
You see, I have a laptop, a tablet, and a cell phone. You won’t catch me discrediting the convenience and efficiency of technology. But sometimes I can’t help but wonder if we’re using it well.
Last night, a group of friends and I spend the evening downtown. One girl forgot her phone at home and I accidentally left mine in the car. A few times throughout the night, I wondered if anyone was talking to me. But as I danced to rockabilly music at the White Hart Cafe and laughed around a table for dessert with some close friends that God has blessed me with, checking to see if I had received a text message or a Facebook notification was the last thought on my mind. The relationships and memories I was experiencing made me forget about my online image for a little while. I was surrounded by people scrolling mindlessly through their phones and investing fruitlessly in their online lives. They were missing the reality surrounding them, while my eyes were fixated on the beautiful life around me. I was truly living in those moments, and it was more memorable than anything I could have read online that night.
How many moments do you and I miss because our eyes are on a screen and not on the people and events around us? How many fun times do we pretend to have on camera at the expense of truly enjoying company?
Realistically, we as college students don’t need nonstop access to Internet, nor do we need to show the world a picture of every meal we eat. We were created by our Creator for meaningful relationships – not 140-character communication. Let’s forget our phones in the car more often and see what happens.