Disconnect to Connect

Gwen Reed, Reporter

We all have that one friend who’s practically addicted to their phone. Can’t think of anyone? You may be that friend. Smartphones alter human connection and social situations every day, now more than ever. Not only that, but heavy use of your cellphone is linked to longer-term issues that go farther than just feeling gross after a whole day spent scrolling through social media. It’s linked to insomnia, anxiety, depression, and more. This small screen in your pocket is more addictive than you think. Studies show that even the sight of your smartphone nearby can alter the quality of your interactions with the people around you. Nowadays the virtual world at our fingertips somehow seems to make the real world in front of us less appealing. There’s nothing like the present moment, and in this day and time that’s something we should all be reminded of. Some new words have even been created to define our obsession with these little screens. For example, “Nomophobia” describes the fear of being without your phone, and “phubbing” is defined as the act of snubbing someone in a social setting by looking at your phone instead of paying attention. Ever been attempting to talk to a friend, only to notice they’re consumed entirely in their phone? You’ve been phubbed. Ever (intentionally or not) ignored someone reaching out to talk to you for the sake of your phone screen? You’re a phubber. It’s true, and it’s happening now. If you haven’t heard about it by now, the use of your phone before bed can significantly decrease your quality of sleep. This is because the blue light released by your phone screen suppresses your brain’s release of melatonin (a.k.a, your sleepy hormone). So my phone is messing with my well-being, my brain, and my social connections. What does this mean? All this means is that it’s time to take a step back and reevaluate. Evaluate your daily use of your phone, your social media platforms, etc. Evaluate how that’s making you feel and how it could be affecting the way you interact with and see the world around you. If you crave a change, even turning off your phone half an hour before bedtime, or keeping your phone away in your bag at social gatherings to ensure eye contact and genuine conversation (like in the old days, wow!) could make all the difference. Use this as a wake up call to simply be aware of the way your smartphone effects you, but even more so to just be more attentive to the world surrounding you, even when the small screen beacons.