The biggest mistake of my parents’ generation was creating the smartphone. Sure, it was only a small group of individuals that went into the actual creation of the product, but the rest of their generation were the ones craving it. They were the ones who created the internet, who were constantly testing its limits, seeing just how far it could go. But, once the smartphone was produced, that’s when it was too far.
Smartphones have caused nothing but the disconnect in our lives. At dinner, we are constantly checking our Snapchats, Instagram and Twitter feeds and playing useless games to pass the time. Instead of actually connecting with the people around us, we look to our phones to distract us from the real world. When we see people we don’t want to talk to, we submerge ourselves in our phones, rather than facing the awkwardness that might come with a personal conversation. Instead of putting ourselves in uncomfortable situations, we use technology as a mechanism to escape them. I, for one, have mastered this skill, which is how I know how destructive smartphones can truly be.
Whenever I want to get something to eat or drink, I usually base my decision off of how much human interaction it involves. See, ever since I was a kid, I’ve been a colossal introvert. When I was younger, it wasn’t that big of a deal because it was normal for parents to order food for their children at restaurants. However, as I grew up, it became more necessary for me to interact with servers and cashiers. I have distinct memories of my parents coaching me before going to a restaurant telling me that this visit I would have to do all the communicating for myself. They would tell me that I had to interact with people at some point. I wouldn’t be able to get through life without learning how to communicate with strangers, which, in their childhood, was true, but not in mine.
One of my technological best friends is the Starbucks app. See, on this app, I’m able to place my order, pay for it, and see how long the wait time is without talking to a single person. The best part about it though is, during pickup, there’s a designated mobile order section of each store where I can head straight to and grab my drink without interacting with a single person.
At first, I was happy that I could get around talking to people at a single store, which wasn’t that unhealthy. At this point, I was mainly trying to avoid my own social awkwardness rather than interacting with people altogether. However, once more and more stores started to pick up on this way of service, my fear of communication began to grow. Eventually, I tried to only go to restaurants that had a mobile pick-up option so that I could avoid talking to people, not just because it was more convenient, but because I was afraid to talk to the workers face-to-face.
Without the creation of the smartphone, I, as well as the rest of my generation, would be forced into communicating. And, as much as I hate to say it, I think I would be better for it. I would be more comfortable with who I am, less anxious about reaching the front of the line at Chick-fil-A, and more able to carry a simple conversation with the cashier at Publix. Had the smartphone not provided me a way out of uncomfortable conversations, I would be a more well-rounded communicator, someone who doesn’t have to talk themselves into going to a manned checkout line, rather than self-checkout. Without the smartphone, I would have learned these skills as I grew up, instead of having to reteach myself how to connect with the world around me.