The Noise of Smartphones after A Year Away

For 1.5 years I did not own much of a cellphone. And even when I did,  it didn’t have internet. I didn’t really need it, I worked from home and pretty much connected through there whenever I wanted to. The point , though , was I was disconnected for awhile. Having so many friends in different countries and not having things like Whatsapp or Viber could sometimes be annoying but I managed all right.

I did not do this out of some statement to the world to go against technology, I just couldn’t be bothered. It was a time of silence. In that time, I read 300 books. In that time, I came to listen to my inner self . It was quiet, it was solace in some ways. I didn’t really miss it

I noticed how attached people were to their devices. I was intrigued how it is now the norm to talk on your cellphone while you are going out with someone and no one considers that rude. I was looking up instead of a screen, and sometimes I felt like I was the only one.

However, when I moved to Boston I found that is virtually impossible now to live without being ” connected” to a cellphone. I couldn’t get proper directions without a GPS, I couldn’t text properly without a smartphone and I couldn’t take pictures or be online.  In the end, getting a smartphone was a no brainer.

 

What I didn’t expect was the huge shock this produced in my daily  life and how a series of adjustments occurred in the process.  I was also intrigued how different it is to start using text, photos and videos when you hadn’t really done so for a long time. I still find the whole process jarring. There are times when I purposely don’t turn on any of my devices to try to get a certain amount of solitude.

1. The Noise Factor

After installing the numerous devices on my phone including all the dating apps, text apps, games, facebook messenger, skype, etc  I was avalanched by a torrential sea of messages. The phone was never quiet. I could never get a moment with my own thoughts. Instead I was bombarded by half written messages that most people forgot five minutes after they wrote them.  Even an expert multitasker such as myself would get overwhelmed. On average, I would get about 50 messages a day .  I wonder how much of a quality amount of time we can spend with all the people around us if we are only writing a couple of sentences a day. I am not opposed to texting or chatting but it is such an impersonalized means of communication. We are literally talking to a computer screen all day. As much as I try, i can’t seem to get totally involved in it except for a couple of people .

2. The Selfie factor

I hated taking pictures of myself. It was just one of those things that made me self conscious. I found that by having devices where I could take more pictures of myself I got more confident, but in so doing I became hyper aware of what I looked like at all times. It was a weird dichotomy. It was also an awareness of how others might perceive myself based on the feedback of others.  I was externalizing my self image based on what others thought of me. I can see how a lot of self objectification happens in young girls with this.

 

3. Losing time

I noticed that I wasn’t reading as much as I used to. There were more distractions, more apps more things to occupy my time. 

4. Ephermeral nature of Texts/ contacts

I guess this is limited to people you meet online but I noticed how quickly people come in and out of your life and how easily people just stop contacting you . They don’t even offer an explanation they just simply disappear. It’s almost as if by doing this you are negating that I ever existed in the first place. On the same coiin, with the aforementioned noise around me I am sure I have done the same thing with others.

5. Documenting your life isn’t living it

A lot of times we feel the need to document what we do but sometimes we spend an inordinate amount of time appearing to do something rather than doing it. I remember in October going out with a friend who was here visiting, he decided to go to to the Charles River . It was sunset and the golden leaves of fall were dissolving into reds and oranges as the sunset deepened. What did he spend his whole time doing? Taking pictures and posting it on facebook.

 

I guess I don’t regret having a smartphone, but I can’t begin to think some of the things I am losing in the process. I know what it was like not to have it, and I have to always remember that I don’t NEED it to be happy.

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Bullies and Victims : It’s Not That Simple

Yesterday one of the girls in the junior youth group looked slightly sad and downtrodden. She told me she was being bullied by some of the other girls. I told her :

You know, when I was your age I was bullied too. It sucks I know. I got my stuff stolen everyday, spit sandwiches and everything in between. It was lonely. But you know what I wish someone had told me then that I want to tell you now?? You need to keep your head up and don’t let that make you lose your confidence. You need to understand that what they are doing has nothing to do with you. Don’t lose sense of who you are. And here’s an important lesson : Love them, love them because they are created by God but that doesn’t mean don’t be just to yourself. You have to learn to keep a distance and don’t let what they do affect you.

The problem with how we deal with bullying today is that we tend to pigeonhole people into the victim and the abuser. A typical response towards a bully is to reprimand him and tell him that his behavior is bad. If this worked, then we wouldn’t have an insane amount of bullying. If anything , bullying has increased as social media is accessible to everyone.
No, the problem is moral relativism, the fragmentation of our lives and what kids are learning from the society as a whole . IF we foster competitive environments why are we surprised when they pick on the ” weak”? If we have families who are violent and abusive why are we surprised that this pours out in their behavior? If we teach intolerance and are over indulgent why are we thinking it won’t result in abuse?
There are so many factors to sum up in each individual case, that it is seemingly impossible to deal with. But, the teacher is already overworked with little support from the system. Counselors are rarely available. The parents typically will blame the teacher for not ” controlling” the class. The victims will demand justice…
I’ve seen where these ” bullies” end up and frankly, it’s pretty sad. I have seen all kinds of ” bullies” Poor Bullies, gypsy bullies, rich Salvadoran bullies, spanish bullies, Etc, etc, etc. It seems like everyone discarded them and decided they are No Good. They have a tough tie believing that anyone cares about them. All they understand is violence. They perpetuate the worst facets of society to the t. They are known as A Bully and they begin to perpetuate this identity.
On the same coin, the ” victim” is taught that they are a victim and cannot possibly empower themselves. If they do, they are taught to stand up for themselves, or seek revenge. Think of all those movies where the former victim gets revenge. Isn’t that becoming the very thing they were running away from? That’s because we seem to have a notion of power which means forced strength. It also typically shows the person now rich and better off. In no way does the person in these movies show that they are in any way helping others , they just perpetuate the temple of self interest.
No, I believe that working together and trying to find ways to erase those labels might be the answer. In understanding where people are coming from. In working with prevention of these labels by redefining them.