We have been labeled Generation Y, and because of our constant technological dependence, we have established a reputation for ourselves. As individuals constantly glued to computer screens, cell phone keyboards and iPod earbuds, we have developed a constant hunger for breaking news and the latest mobile apps. We have grown to become people of robotic behavior, considering a deep conversation one involved on Facebook chat and a “formal” business meeting one over Skype. Technology’s control over our lives has forced us to insist on instant availability and reliable phone service, a challenge we must overcome in order to survive should Verizon ever have a server down for the evening.
Downtime is crucial for a healthy lifestyle, and British-American entrepreneur Andrew Keen agrees. In an article titled “How our mobiles became Frankenstein’s monster,” Keen notes:
With our increasing addiction to our mobile phones, we are in danger of creating a monster that we are less and less able to control … Practicing “safe phone” extends to untangling ourselves from our mobile devices. It means fighting their growing power over us. It means reminding them who is boss.
Keen argues our mobile phones have reached a level of intelligence that is both inconceivable and frightening. Within the past year, ethical questions concerning the Global Positioning System (GPS) tracking abilities of iPhones and iPads have surfaced amongst consumers, ABC News reports.
Cell phone users are concerned providers, like Apple and Google, are spying on them, plotting their every move through hidden surveillance systems. Keen voices his own worries on these Frankenstein-like qualities, stating:
By 2015, not only will there be seven billion mobile devices in the world, but they will — empowered by artificial intelligence features like Apple’s Siri personal assistant and Evi, its new British competitor — become more and more indistinguishable from the human brain.
The common routine of push, push, push allows many of us to forget the importance of relaxation. With cell phones ringing and accessible Internet at our fingertips, we fail to escape everyday chaos. On a personal note, I have experienced this hard feeling of separation; as I turn off my cell phone to begin studying, the persuasion to turn it back on moments later enters my brain and diminishes my level of concentration. Willpower does not come easily. Instead of neglecting technology, we continue to allow ourselves to be sucked into this world of false empowerment and instant gratification.
I have contemplated ways to overcome this dilemma, and the conclusion I have reached is that in order to step away from our computers and ignore our buzzing cell phones, we must remind ourselves about the true meanings of life. We must recall that which is centrally important to us, whether it be a grade or a relationship, and we must work hard for it. Face-to-face conversations, lunch dates and thoughtful cards remind us of the components of sincere relationships. Technology does not bring true happiness; it is something that can only be found in the beating hearts of others. We must discipline ourselves to take a break from the technological world to focus on genuine things, like friendship, love and happiness. Keen touches on this same idea, saying:
Above all, we need to stop fetishizing cellphones. More than 60,000 people are expected to attend the Mobile World Congress this week to gaze at new phones. But remember: All the coercively seductive new products unveiled in Barcelona in the next few days are just phones. They can’t make us younger, richer, more virile or more intelligent. And they certainly don’t empower us.
As simple a challenge as it might seem to others, neglecting technology remains a test to adolescents everyday. Taking a break from Twitter, cooling down your cell battery and relaxing your pupils from ESPN can allow you to recollect your thoughts, relax and focus on what is at hand. We must overcome temptations by relying more on each other than on the Facebook updates of our loved ones. We need to step back and reassess the concept of true living, without a cell phone in one hand and a laptop in the other. According to Keen, “What [this] means is pressing the off button so that our smartphone can never become as smart as we are.”