Unsigned: constant cellphone connections are contaminating

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This week, we received an anonymous “Letter to the Editor” from a student who was concerned with making meaningful relationships. This student, rather than wanting to be printed in the paper, wished to spark a discussion and highlight the dangers of our frivolous small talk.

Sparked by this student’s letter, we decided the best course of action was to take the discussion to the Editorial Board. We made the assumption that a lot of these issues stem from our excessive use and connection to our electronics.

In what way does our connection to our cellphones have to do with our connections to other people?

In every way.

Most of us got our first phone (probably some awful flip phone in a neon colour) just so we could contact our parents in case of an emergency. Boy, has that changed.

We’re all guilty of looking down at our phone and completely ignoring what someone else is saying to us. Other times, we miss the context for a story and it can cause extreme reactions that are completely unwarranted, simply because we were sending a text instead of listening. It happens to the best of us, but it shouldn’t.

Have you ever been in a group situation where two of the individuals are texting each other in the middle of an event? You just know they’re shit-talking someone in the room and it is anxiety-inducing for everyone else there.

Most people also use their phones for work these days. Work days are no longer nine-to-five; they’re twenty-four-seven because we’re always dialed in.

It becomes routine to instantly reply. Not only is that an unrealistic expectation, but it is incredibly harmful to our mental health. There’s an anxiety that comes from being disconnected.

The internet does provide a way to meet extraordinary people from all walks of life all over the world. Even in this, however, the end goal is to actually meet these incredible people face to face. That doesn’t always transfer well.

Looking at a more specific example, the use of Tinder is an incredibly popular way to meet a partner, whether for a relationship or for a night. So you have weeks of conversation with a potential beau, ignoring your friends, only to meet your potential mate and text your friends about them. Isn’t that counterproductive?

What happens when you build an electronic connection only to meet in person? When you become infatuated with someone’s portrayal of themselves, you’re meeting a whole new person when you meet them in the physical world. You fall for a caricature, not someone’s real character.

When did we start living in a culture that sends an anonymous tweet that someone was good-looking instead of actually approaching them?

One of the members of our Editorial Board even developed a serious mental illness because of constant connection to the internet. It’s hard to feel like you’re good enough when you’re constantly comparing yourself to others.

Even a few years ago, the way to meet people was to go to the bar and talk, making a genuine attempt to get to know a physical face, not a picture.

Now? That’s the exception, no longer the rule. We think that’s kind of sad and scary.

Let’s call our cellphone use what it really is: an addiction.

Today, we’ve developed a culture where we have to make the choice not to use our cellphones. Our data controls us. We’re so constantly connected that hitting the power button seems scary.

Though our cellphones allow us to be social and connect us to the rest of the world, they have to be used in moderation.

As beneficial as they are to staying connected, we all have to be wary of having genuine connections with the people around us. At the end of the day, these real-life, genuine connections are the ones that matter.

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