Olivia’s Opinions: A Comment on Cellphone Addiction

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Olivia’s Opinions: A Comment on Cellphone Addiction

Olivia Janicek, CEO

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Olivia’s Opinions is back! Please keep in mind this is an opinionated piece, and I may not agree with your point of view. If you have commentary on the subject, please feel free to comment below. Ideas are always welcomed! 

As I walked down the stairs at a cobweb-ridden restroom on a road trip, I eagerly Googled the nearest coffee shop in hopes of securing some coffee and a blueberry muffin. Eyes casted down upon the illuminated screen, an older man passed me on the steps and murmured something stand-offishly. “You shouldn’t walk with your phone… You’ll trip, you know.”

I contemplated the comment. Meaningless in content, right? Just a stranger’s unwarranted observation? Typical and harmless…. Yes. Probably. My overanalyzing brain disagreed. I picked apart his comment, and chuckled to myself. The tone of the mans voice lended itself to that of a lecture. A lecture I’d heard countless times from (usually) older people. “If you spent less time on your phone…” “Get off your phone and see the world” “Phones are totally ruining (insert noun here)”. My brother, my friends, and other members of Generation Z are familiar with the unwarranted commentary. The widespread interpretation of our age haunts family dinners and conversations with relatives. To many, we’re just feverish cell-phone addicts too engaged in internet culture to actually embrace the real world. Our minds are merely infected with hashtags and video games and memes and messages and captions and other internet vomit. Sometimes, the stereotype rings true. My own attachment to my phone often wavers upon unhealthy, and I can spend hours scrolling through mindless web-pages. I may miss out on time spent with others, or with a good book, or learning something new. I understand the perceptions and distaste regarding the ‘cellphone addictions, and realize such ideas are not entirely invalid.

Yet I think like all stereotypes, Gen Z’s isn’t all-encompassing. The internet is merely a piece of our evolutionary identity, and it isn’t nearly as negative as people assume. I don’t find a disconnection in my cell-phone. And I’m not just referring to the wifi.

My attachment to my phone, quite simply, doesn’t equal my lack of attachment to reality. The internet empowers my connection with communities, and increases my abilities to engage within it.

I’ve been able to connect with individuals across my community and across the country. As I “waste my day” on Instagram, I see Instagram live-streams of my baby niece’s childhood and photos of my aunt’s trip to Australia. As I “flip mindlessly” through Snapchat’s home screen, I share messages and memories with old middle school friends (whom I haven’t seen or spoke to in years), as we reminisce upon our youthful days. My friends and I connect over shared memes and our favorite YouTube channel; the familiar media serving as commonplace for quick convos and longstanding jokes. No, it’s not traditional, I’ll admit. And it’s not perfect. Social media can feel invasive, envious, uncontrollable, and merely, problematic, as it arrives with hosts of negativities (There’s a list of problems, I’ll admit, yet I’ll save that for another article) Yet social media can empower human and familial connection. It allows conversations to continue across the country, or even continent, and fosters growth in new and old relationships.

Online media’s new, I get it, and such newness can seem scary in the eyes of traditionalists. Yet new media, and new forms of communication, aren’t newfangled concepts. We’ve seen communicative and technological evolutions before. Even simple mobile phones arrived as technological astonishments, and were hardly as popular/ readily available in the past compared to present day. Traditions evolve with time and culture, and our means of communication do too. Internet culture’s birth was and is inevitable. And perhaps the new means of human communication should be recognized for their positives, as much as their negatives. It’ll take time to adapt to these new traditions, and overcome their issues. Yet human connection is, arguably, being redefined in Generation Z, and they shouldn’t be stigmatized because of it.

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