Humanity Can’t be Felt Through a Screen

By Mia Nguyen

It’s annoying when people smack their gum. It’s annoying when people obsessively tap their pencil on every available surface. It’s annoying when people play their music too loud, or when they don't use turn signals, or when they don't close the bedroom door.

But most of all, it’s annoying when people are constantly attached to their phones.

It starts out innocently enough. I’m just grabbing a bite with a friend, and suddenly their phone pings. They pick it up. A “text from their mom.”

Okay, fair enough.

I continue munching on my fries, waiting.

And waiting.

And waiting.

And by now, it’s obvious they’re done responding to their mom. They’ve moved on to a plethora of Snapchat streaks to reply to.

So I keep waiting. They’ll be done soon enough, right? I mean, how many possible streaks can a person have?

Apparently, a lot.

I’ve started twitching around in my seat, my leg starts jittering, my nails click against the table, I subtly clear my throat--anything to get their attention and save me from this smothering awkwardness.

I glance over to their screen. I resist the urge to throw back into my chair and flail my limbs and scream, “GIVE ME ATTENTION”. I aggressively chomp another bite of my food.

I mean, c’mon, why are you trying so hard to talk and connect with people halfway across the globe, but you won’t even talk to the person in front of you?

Can’t they see how desperately I want to talk to them? To learn about their day and tell them about mine? To talk about something just a little more intellectual than Kylie Jenner’s latest bikini post?

You can always tweet about the latest celebrity gossip when you’re alone, depressed and confined to the darkness of your room--but while you’re out, enjoy it! Enjoy the sunshine and the sky and the breeze and especially the person sitting in front of you who YOU invited out to lunch!!!

I mean, at the end of the day, who really cares about how many streaks or likes or retweets you have, if you can’t even connect with the people around you?

It’s sad how the majority of this generation has lost the appreciation of life. It’s sad that our generation finds it awkward to make eye contact with people, or to smile and start polite conversation with a stranger.

And it’s sad that our generation finds phones more interesting than people.

I mean, isn’t that what makes us human? To be able to listen, watch, and empathize; to talk, laugh and enjoy the presence of another human; to love and cry...and yes, to even stand in the awkward silence with the elevator stranger.

Every moment you spend typing away on your phone is one less memory, one less joke, and one less meaningful moment of life you’ll never get back. Every moment you spend on your phone, you increasingly become numb, indifferent, and detached from the life around you.

In fact, studies have shown that the overexposure of social media and the internet, while often informing, can be extremely detrimental to our sensitivity. The constant bombardment of ads and posts and videos depicting starving children, the cruelties of factory farming, and devastating medical diseases has desensitized us, making us nearly immune to something that should break our hearts.

But it doesn’t.

When you’re on your phone, it shows that you don't care. You don't care to live in the present, you don't care to create memories, and you don't care to bond with the people in front of you.

There are so many better things to do with your time, so many things to observe, watch, and appreciate. You have an entire world around you, and your entire life ahead of you to explore.

Humanity can’t be felt through a screen.

1 comment

  1. Lain Iwakura 14 January, 2019 at 13:21 Reply

    I think the point that social media leads to detachment is pretty much irrefutably correct (albeit for MUCH more complicated reasons than were explained here, let’s all love Lain), but to blame the medium itself, i.e. stating “humanity can’t be felt through a screen” is kind of dangerous media determinism. The ways in which we use our devices are unhealthy, and we are encouraged to use those devices that way by the social media systems we’re using, but to disregard the possibility for real human connection through the Internet, or to decry communication technology as a whole as entirely inhumane and destructive, is problematic. I, for one, have meet my only ever actual friends online. It took effort to defy the addicting, numbing nature of the system in which I found them, but with conscious effort, I’ve formed actual, meaningful human bonds with people I would literally give my life for, something I was never able to experience in the real world due to the relative difficulty of initiating conversation and finding people similar to yourself. The solution isn’t abandoning technology, it’s becoming aware of and resisting the subconscious negative side effects of the medium and instead use it in such a way that produces actual value.

    (read Marshal McLuahan and watch Serial Experiments Lainnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn).

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