Opinions, Column

False Connection

Your phone—that little device that, for many people, is the one thing we bring with us wherever we go. You might even be using it right now to read this. Supposedly, it connects us to the world. Yet somehow, it still manages to disconnect us from each other. Some of us use our phones casually when necessary, others flaunt incredibly high usage hours or conversely, and some are so impossible to get in contact with that you might start assuming they live in a log cabin in the woods.

No matter where you fall on this spectrum, phones are here to stay. If you are anything like me, your phone provides you with the power to call relatives, get help in an emergency, keep in contact with friends who you don’t see often, and read horrifying “Herrd” posts at 2 a.m. on a Saturday. 

But as much as I love my phone, it is evident that my phone has completely destroyed my attention span. I’ve already checked it at least three times since sitting down to write this column. 

In class, I also find it hard to pay attention if I am not fully engaged with the lecture, and thus, I resort to playing every last one of the free-to-play New York Times online games. Of course, these sporadic and unfocused habits may partially be attributable to my raging, undiagnosed ADHD, but something about the fast-moving nature of my most commonly used apps has altered my brain chemistry in seemingly irreversible ways.

Think about it—TikTok provides us with an infinite supply of short videos that we can easily scroll through as quickly as we desire. Snapchat allows us to send pictures back and forth to anyone instantaneously. Instagram shows us the most current posts to keep us constantly up-to-date on local and global happenings. And Twitter (which I still call Twitter, because “X” is lame) is, well, Twitter. I don’t think I need to elaborate on that one. 

These apps move so fast that I almost feel like my brain has become slower. The insatiable craving for “something” to do at all hours of the day has taken over my life, leaving me with many nights of caring too much about what happens on social media and feeling addicted to the “virtual present” while forgetting to live in the real world.

As someone who spends a great deal of time on the four aforementioned social media platforms, I don’t know what my life would be like without my daily fix of nonsense. Nevertheless, due to the impact these apps have on my mental health and attention span, I’d like to try to be less connected. It would be an impossible task to go phone-free for even more than a couple hours as a college student with a job, homework assignments, club involvements, and a social life. Social media, however, is not a necessity.

Sure, I do often read about world events on social media, but there are plenty of other more reliable ways to remain in the loop without using these platforms. My goal for this semester is to go at least one week without constantly consuming the world—no reading negativity, no viewing Instagram likes, and definitely no watching people pretend to collapse when some unique experience catches up with them in 50 years.

I also encourage you, dear reader, to give it a go as well. Yes, you can keep your little block of metal in your pocket, but maybe when you reach for it, think about whether it’s absolutely necessary or not. Recently, I’ve begun to better appreciate my surroundings and be more present, especially on Boston College’s beautiful campus. It has been immensely beneficial to my mental health.

There is nothing quite like sitting by the Res, watching the seagulls fly overhead, and looking at the Boston skyline. So, when you instinctively go to take a picture of this view and post it on your story for everyone to see, take a picture with your eyes instead, and use it as a keepsake for the story of your journey through the real world.

February 18, 2024