In the beginning of this past May during finals week, my phone slipped out of my hand and fell to the ground, screen first.
I picked it up only to see my reflection shattered into one million pieces. Half of the screen turned black. The other half twitched with multicolored lights.
My heart plummeted to the bottom of my stomach.
My phone was completely unusable, and I had three days until I left for home, where I would be able to get a new one. In the midst of a panic, actually dying of boredom seemed quite possible. Something so integral to my everyday life, was abruptly stripped from me for a mere three days.
Left with only myself, I thought: Did I really live a life like this before?
It’s a cycle. I wake up and I check my phone. I get dressed and I check my phone. I drive down to class, and I check my phone. I finish class and I check my phone.
Any and every gap of leisure time I get, I’m drawn to my phone, scrolling through Instagram, Twitter or Facebook. Answering texts, Snapchats, or GroupMe messages, looking around every 20 minutes to confirm that my phone is within reach. It’s like my phone and my right hand are connected by magnets, and I can’t abstain.
Ten years ago, I didn’t have a smartphone. Barely anyone had a smartphone at the time — even adults. Looking back, it’s difficult for me to even reminisce about how I spent my time without one, almost as if I blanked out on substantial pieces of my childhood memories.
What did I do with myself out of boredom? What did I turn to when nothing in my reality was worth paying attention to? What did the world around me look like when the majority of people were not constantly looking down at a six-inch screen? Though I was still fairly young, I wish I could have taken note of and remembered these very details before it became too late.
Nowadays, I get scared about how much of reality I miss when I mindlessly use my phone for the majority of the day. Every Sunday morning, my iPhone gives me a weekly report on how many hours a day I spend on my phone. On a “good” week, I might spend two or three hours a day. While a “bad” one could reach around five or six hours a day. No matter the number, I cringe and face regret every time. I always think about what I could have been doing instead of aimlessly switching between various apps and social networks.
Maybe I could’ve hung out with my friends, done a little more work or even just gone outside and taken a walk. Yet, with being addicted to my phone, my life is flying by before I know it, and I can’t pick my head up to see it go. I long to go back to the life I once lived in a world where it didn’t exist.
Now, at 19 years old, I have lived in two worlds—before and after the rapid, yet significant, rise of smartphones. Kids who were born five or ten years ago would never even get the opportunity to see the world without this technological innovation.
They won’t have to look back on how much their life has changed in the way that ours did. This world they’re being raised in won’t give them the same impact where they would yearn to not have their eyes practically super-glued to their devices. It will be all they’ve ever known.
In those three days where my phone was broken, I had gotten a taste of what that life was like. Naturally, it stung at first. Yet subsequently, it was refreshing, like a cool breeze of morning air.
I felt brand new, like a clean slate—and I loved it. I wish I always felt that way. As soon as I got my phone fixed, I knew I would inevitably fall back into the cycle.