Who needs friends when we have phones?

Ellie Strube

It was a Thursday night, and we were done with a deathly week of classes. It was time to have a much deserved drink or two. My roommates and I invited a couple of friends over to pregame and get the night rallied up. I had high hopes for conversation and quality laughs, and maybe—just maybe—for the heavens to open up upon us, dispatching glorious sensations of friendship and overall, a good night. However, all of this was obliterated by the smartphone.

Cell phones were once good for texting a high school crush a simple, “Hi, what are you doing today?” and the anticipation after pressing “Send” would kill me. In between the nerves and perspiration, I would sit and wait for a reply as great scenarios developed in mind.

“Maybe he doesn’t like me,” or “maybe he was abducted by aliens—yeah definitely abducted,” I would think to myself.

With Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat to kill the time, we’ve become vegetables, and all creative thinking is seemingly eradicated.

From left- Katie Chellemi, Coastal Biology Senior, Kelsey Callanan, Public Relations Senior and Aubrey Ballard, Construction Management Senior, check for updates while Austin Doyle, Public Relations Senior, sits unamused of losing his friends to their smartphones.  Photo illustration by Bronwyn Knight.
From left- Katie Chellemi, Coastal Biology Senior, Kelsey Callanan, Public Relations Senior and Aubrey Ballard, Construction Management Senior, check for updates while Austin Doyle, Public Relations Senior, sits unamused of losing his friends to their smartphones.
Photo illustration by Bronwyn Knight.

I noticed at my house that Thursday night, that for every beer to be drunk and every dance to be had, a photo update was imperative to capture the moment.

“Wait one second before you do that—let me get it on Snapchat” is the typical reply to an action these days. Everything then becomes exaggerated to please our virtual peers.

Every angle of the face must be mastered in order for us to look 10 pounds skinnier. After a few retakes, smiles are rehearsed and perfected to match Cameron Diaz’s.

According to eDigitalResearch, 80 percent of smartphone owners use their device in front of a television. This is absurd. We might as well cancel cable. According to Statistic Brain, 68 percent of us sleep with our smartphone next to our bed. We might as well break up with our significant other, since phones will always be there. These devices have transcended their basic function of sending phone calls. They also quantify our online popularity with likes, retweets and favorites. A smartphone is a GPS, weather forecast and an alarm clock in one. Smartphones are reliable, unless you chuck one into a toilet bowl—but wait, that’s what a Lifeproof case is for! Smartphones are almost indestructible.

I’m guilty of excessive phone usage, too. I check my Instagram likes, and I occasionally send Snapchats, throwing up a peace sign. However, I try to engage with my friends and leave my phone in my purse when I’m out at lunch.

At a concert this past fall, I couldn’t even see the band play because so many phones were waving overhead the crowd. The band asked at one point for us to put our phones away to escape in the music, but oh no, how dare they ask such a laboring task of us? Stow away our best friend?

So, what’s the solution? Let’s engage; let’s live in the moment. I have a friend who requires everyone who enters his house to leave his or her phone in a basket. He calls it “Phone Jenga.” It’s inventive.

A phoneless world may be unrealistic, but what is realistic is taking a break from the virtual world, and talking face to face every now and then.