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Chelsea Audibert Headshot

The iLife

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Life just went by, and I missed it because I was looking at my phone.

The alarm sounds, and the arm reaches for the phone. Without even cracking so much as an eyelid, this routine is practically a matter of muscle memory. How else can we even think of beginning a new day without first checking the weather (through the app, that is), opening emails, and trolling Twitter? Then, if you are like me, you open a music app so that you may continue towards full consciousness with the early morning playlist, naturally. Soon I will text my friends to see if anyone is heading in the direction of the cafeteria because honestly, I am unprepared to make new friends so soon as breakfast. Although, if no one is there, it will be okay since I have my phone, the most reliable of companions.

Technology is such an integral part of my generation's life. The possibility to share our interests, opinions, and personal media seems infinite. The globalization of technology connects us to the far reaches of the Earth. Today even North Korea is subject to the eye of the Internet. We share our values as well as our complaints. We ignite successful online campaigns for social justice. Even more, the demands of the job search are simplified through online resources and professional networks. Incredibly, the information of the world can be held in a 4-inch device, and we feel armed to face any scenario. Every moment is a memory, a documented bite. We expect 24/7 connectivity because that is how we are trained to operate, always powered to on. It is time to set to sleep mode.

Admittedly, I am a recent smartphone convert. There really is no looking back, is there? Time and time again I am astonished at how much daily activity the phone supports through its updates, schedules, and entertainment portals. However, I remain a skeptic. We are losing a basic human function of socialization. The human relationships we build are manipulated through staged photos and status updates. We no longer know how to do one thing and feel content. We can even hold simultaneous conversations in multiple formats. Frankly, it is exhausting trying to keep pace.

It takes a mindful effort and a hint of discipline to not reach for the phone each time a friend steps away from the table or while waiting outside for a class to start. The art of people watching is dead, or at least it would seem so on college campuses. Our phones and computers are becoming natural mechanical extensions of ourselves. Without them, we feel anxiety. But there is a price we pay for this attachment complex to our devices, and the price is paid in our friendships. Real human friendships take work, not like buttons.

Without a phone, Facebook, or other social network, a person must face the consequences of falling behind socially. These devices are how we communicate. Phones are our lifelines, and the computer is our voice. I believe in the power of the Internet to build awareness and affect change, but I also believe in the limitations of our cyberspace personalities.

Constant access to information and updates is overwhelming. We are only mortals after all, and we have capacities for our intake. Social bonds can flourish if we stop acting "social" on our devices and join in the action of real life. For this reason, I propose a challenge. This is not a fast from technology or practice in simple living. Instead I propose that we all attempt, for only one day, to live presently. This means that whatever we are doing, we do only that one thing. It will be difficult. After all, multitasking occurs so easily that it is secondary in nature.

No answering a text while talking with a friend or tweeting in the lull of a conversation. If attempting to focus on homework, the television must go off. Walking outside, we must forego the earphones and music. We can recalibrate our focus on the pleasures of the ordinary.

Let's see what we hear, what we discover, and what we learn. And if life does pass by, say hello.