By Troy Headrick
I struggled coming up with a title for this one. I almost called it “My Love/Hate Relationship with My Smartphone.”
Okay, so I own a Samsung Galaxy Note5. I know. I know. It’s certainly not the latest and coolest model. But then again, I’m not necessarily the coolest guy either. Almost nothing that I own is the latest version of anything. In fact, I’m not exactly what you’d call a “high-end” fellow. I’m more the sort who snoops around at resell shops and flea markets.
I was raised by a brilliant but eccentric father. He didn’t believe in telephones. So we didn’t have one in our house for a long time. Looking back on that period in my life, I can’t see any sort of way that not owning a phone had any detrimental effect on my life.
I remember what life was like at that time in American history. It seemed quieter, calmer, more serene. People could, it certainly seems, be alone with their thoughts. In fact, it seems that it might have actually been easier to have thoughts in that day and age. It appears perfectly obvious that to have thoughts one would need to have a certain quietness of mind. Thoughts are a bit like plants. They need the proper environment to flourish. The quiet mind is such an environment.
For many years, I resisted buying a telephone. This was probably a direct result of the values inculcated by my father. Then, about four years ago, I bought the above-mentioned Samsung.
This device has certainly allowed me to connect with the world, but I think people are generally mostly incapable of doing things in moderation. Human beings—of course, it’s hard to generalize—are naturally extremists. They don’t do most things half-assed.
I’m trying to tell you in a roundabout way that I am sort of addicted to my telephone. As an educator–as someone who stands up in front of lots of young adults—I know that I am not alone in my addiction. I’ve taught classes where students spent more time looking at their little screens than they did looking at my little face. This makes me wonder if we really see each other anymore. Do you think it’s possible that we’ve mostly become invisible to one another?
And do we hear each other? Do we know how to formulate well thought out sentences? I certainly know how to ask my telephone where I might find such and such a place by telling it the address I’m looking for. When it replies, though, it doesn’t ask me any questions like, “Why have you decided to go to this location rather than stay at home?” Such a question would turn me back on myself. It might even make me reconsider. By the way, as you’ve probably already gathered, my Samsung is a pretty poor conversationalist.
I guess I’m just writing whatever comes to mind here. But there does seem to be a method to my madness. In what way am I being changed by my telephone and other technological devices? What ways are these things changing the world we live in? Are we happier now than we used to be when the world was very small and everything seemed so far away and interesting?
Troy Headrick’s personal blog can be found at Thinker Boy: Blog & Art.