I love my iPhone. It wakes me up with bird chirps when my sleep patterns are at the right stage. It lets me set second and third panic-inducing alarms for when my nice bird chirps blend into my dreams and don’t flutter an eyelash.
I’ve grown up through the progression of the cell phone, from brick-like BlackBerry to sleek smartphone. It’s been a fascinating journey. They really can do anything for you nowadays. I can check the weather without looking out my window. I can take hundreds of selfies and send them to my friends for free (as long as I have WiFi).
Really, they’re the handiest of devices. But I resent the pesky little things for many reasons. And before you accuse me of being a grandma or being nostalgic for the 90’s, just listen to my logic.
1. They’ve made the wonderful awkwardness of house phones unnecessary
And that’s really a shame. Before everyone you knew had a cell phone (like I’m talking way back, circa 2007), contacting your friends and family had to be done via the home phone, a device now antiquated in our smartphone age. In case you forget what a home phone is, here’s the jist: you would call your friend’s house and likely have to speak to his or her parent before actually communicating with said friend. Now while many of you likely found this a painful and somewhat embarrassing experience, I miss it.
Having your friend’s family know your name and trust you is something special. It was comforting to know there was a mom or dad in the neighbourhood you could turn to if you ever had stranger danger. It was a community feeling, and we’ve lost that. It’s true, most of my friends are in their 20’s now and many don’t live with their families. But all the same, I’m not as good at coming up with meaningless tidbits of information to pass the time like I’d have to while waiting for my friend to pick up his or her phone extension.
2. English has become text-ese
While previously you actually had to use your vocal chords and complete sentences, now, you text your friend “wutz up?” they say “nm, jc, u?” and the conversation is through. It just doesn’t have the same level of involvement or effort. When my mom calls me and actually expects me to converse, I’m often blindsided and answer the phone with a casual “what’s up” that costs me an argument about proper language and manners.
Basically, the art of verbal communication has become lost. Many of my fellow 20-somethings are uncomfortable speaking on the phone. Calling someone is a tactic that is respected (and often necessary) in the professional world, and if you don’t practice the skill, it can be forgotten.
3. People aren’t in the present with each other
Walking around Ryerson’s campus the other day, I had to use my panther-quick reflexes to dodge many an unaware text-walker. There were street parades, colourful booths, live musicians, but these people were in their own virtual world. And that’s okay sometimes; I admit I’m addicted to Sudoku and had an obsession with the Simpson’s Tapped Out game. But what happened to experiencing real life and sharing it with those around you? There’s such a stigma against walking up to a person and introducing yourself. It’s automatically assumed the instigator of the conversation wants to get in the target’s pants if they’re of the opposite sex, and that’s a sad misconception. We all need friends.
Especially on the subway, where people are trapped together in hellish temperatures on a speeding locomotive travelling in pitch blackness, it’s strange that fellow commuters don’t talk to each other. We’re all trapped there together; someone could at least crack a joke. But it’s gotten to the point that if you say hello to someone, you’re the crazy one. And the crazy ones are the ones you’re supposed to stay away from.
4. Dating has become a practice of instant gratification
Having recently exited a two-year relationship, I’m absolutely terrified of dating. I was in a relationship when applications like Tinder and OkCupid began simplifying the dating process into a game of “hot or not”. I may be exaggerating, but I witnessed many vulgar messages my single friends received from eager admirers. Kudos to those Tinder relationships that work out; we’ve all heard the success stories. But I think there’s something special in the traditional method of meeting someone in real life, asking them on a date, and seeing how things progress from there. I think it shows more character to walk up to someone and ask them to go to coffee than to flirt with someone you can’t see.
(I’m sure there are many Tinder users who do ask matches on dates and wouldn’t have otherwise met their significant other, but from what I hear, those are few and far between.)
The instant gratification of the Tinder and Grindr world is too simple. And with these applications becoming more and more popular, it’s scary to think that a person you meet in the physical world might rather have that online flirtation where you cut right to the chase. What happened to the art of romance and dating? But, then again, I may just be an old soul using the application wrong. Who knows.
So please, for the love of Mary and Christ Jesus himself, look up from your phone a couple times a day and see where you are. You may see a cute girl you want to get to know better, or you may see the tree you’re about to walk into. As the great Ferris Bueller once said on a beautiful day in 1986, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”