HOW OUR PHONES CONTROL US: Part 1
Living in the 21st century, we are witnessing the zenith of technological advancements. Our world is growing smaller and smaller, more rapidly than we know and the internet has connected us to every part of it. In fact, the world has become so small that it can fit inside our pockets in the form of smartphones. If you are reading this, it is most likely on your smartphone, and you are one of the 2 billion users of the gadget, it has become such a big part of our lives that we can no longer differentiate between the tangible and the intangible. Today, there is nothing that cannot be done with a phone. We can shop, order food, pay bills, book tickets, make friends, connect with friends far away, get jobs, earn money, play games, watch movies and so on. It has become possible to fulfill any of our wishes with a single tap on our device. We have so much control over everything, it seems that we are invincible. But, is everything really under our control? Think again.
While it may seem that we have the world at our fingertips, there is always another side to the coin. Is it possible that our phones control us more than we control them? How can it be that such a small thing can create such a big difference in the way today’s world is shaped?
The many advantages of a smartphone somehow overshadow the effects of it on our lives. The first thing you see when you wake up in the morning is your cell phone. It is also the last thing that you see at night when you go to bed. Honestly, it is scary. More than half the smartphone users in the world claim to be addicted to it. We have our eyes glued to the screens for several hours a day. A tiny notification beep can make us stop what we are doing and look at our phones. We check our phones every few minutes with the hope of a new message. We have started using our phones in offices, meetings, classrooms, public transports, while waiting in the traffic, while hanging out with friends or family and any other time of the day. Why does this happen? What is this urge that compels us to do so? What about our phones makes us lose attention and become completely oblivious to our surroundings? Why do we become anxious when we don’t have our phone with us, or we don’t have a good internet connection? Why do cafes without wifi not run well? Why do we need to submit ourselves to this tiny device? Why don’t we realize that there is a fine line between having a phone that can do everything and using a phone for doing everything? The biggest and most obvious answer to all these questions is social media. Social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram are the most used applications on all of our phones. The purpose of social media is to connect us with people. However, we seem to have changed it somehow. Today, an Instagram account is all about how many followers we have. A Facebook post is all about the number of likes and comments we can get. If the number is not satisfactory, we delete the post. We have acquired this habit of needing to post every single detail of our lives on Instagram stories, pretending that our lives are happier than ever and forgetting that humans tend to feel a whole spectrum of emotions that they have every right to keep private. Any vacation is unfruitful if its pictures aren’t uploaded online and loved by all. We seem to have abandoned our eyes and started living our lives through camera lenses. Our expressions and emotions are fading away and being replaced by emoticons, popularly called emojis. We care more about talking and connecting with people online rather than the ones who are physically present around us. We create a persona of ourselves online. It is something that we are not but what we want to be, or rather, what the world wants us to be. It is surprising how much of an influence a mere application can have on our lives. The number of followers, likes, or the kind of comments that we receive on social media affect the way we see ourselves. We allow other people to judge and make decisions for us. We have become robots, being controlled by each and everyone, taking the consent of others to do or not to do everyday tasks, their opinions as rules to live by and their criticism as a reason to dislike ourselves and believing that we as individuals are unworthy of living in the society and that we need to improve ourselves to get others to like us. Social media is one of the prime causes of depression, anxiety, inferiority complex, and stress among teenagers.
Cover image : Zak Tebbal