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Cell phones steal our time

Constant access to social media is detrimental to social life

Heather Hines, Reporter

creditphoto-1451968362585-6f6b322071c7Typically when I get in an elevator on campus, I try to greet the person already in the elevator car. We don’t need to have whole conversations, but a “good morning” and a smile always brightens someone’s day.

Lately the interaction I have in elevators consists of standing in silence while multiple strangers ignore each other and stare at their cell phones. Cell phones, of course, function as communication devices making our lives much easier, but innovations revolving around Wi-Fi and social media apps have caused people to hardly ever separate from their phone.        

Some people probably see no problem with this; we were taught not to talk to strangers anyway, right? What I see revolves around a lack of social interaction and need for constant stimulation. These things lead to people who look for stimulation in the ever-evolving feed of their Facebook page and ignore the people and world around them to get it. Instead of inviting friends over and talking, we watch movies and play video games. We’re together with the people we love, but it’s for family movie night instead of family game night. Passive interactions with other people have become normal because our society has become obsessed with technology.

Our obsession with cell phones has become dangerous in some respects. The National Safety Council reported in 2013 that 26 percent of car crashes were caused by distracted driving due to cell phone usage, and about 9,230 deaths occurred. These crashes don’t just affect the cell phone user. When people drive distracted, everyone else on the road can potentially be hurt by their choice to pay attention to a phone instead of driving safely.

According to a study done by the journal of Academic Analysis and Prevention, 1,506 pedestrians were injured in 2010 just by walking and texting alone. At TWU, I can easily foresee a student walking past the fountain while texting a friend and tripping on the uneven ground.

People who pay so much attention to their phones understand that, on the internet, interesting and entertaining things happen all the time. But when you give so much of your attention to a little chunk of metal, you miss what’s happening in the world around you.  In 2010, Western Washington University conducted a study where a clown on a unicycle rode through an outdoor plaza, very similar to the area in front of TWU’s library. Seventy-five percent of students using cell phones while walking through the plaza neglected to notice the clown. While I think many people would agree a unicycling clown on campus would be Snapchat worthy, I would much rather see one in person than on a little screen.

If the internet came about because of humans and its content comes also from humans, it stands to reason that people should be just as fascinated by interactions with other humans as they are fascinated with the social media apps on their cell phones. After all, those apps would be barren without people posting and updating on them. Other people and their lives intrigue and captivate us, so talking to and interacting with those people face-to-face should be more thrilling and more valuable than a cell phone.

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