Go into a crowded area, and I’ll guarantee that you’ll spot at least one person constantly tap-tap-tapping away at a device. Whether it’s someone scrolling through their Facebook feed or someone desperately trying to find directions, these days, it’s no longer a rarity to see people whose eyes are glued to their phones.
But is it really that bad for people to always have their technological devices within arm’s reach?
On one hand, being able to access information anywhere can come in handy when facing an emergency such as scenarios that call for first aid or figuring out how to stop a deadly virus from eating away at your hard drive.
On the other hand, people become so dependent that they’d practically start to panic if their phones died or if there’s no wifi signal or if they can’t access Google.
Handheld devices: bane or boon?
Let’s have a look at both sides of the argument. Are technological devices advancing the way we interact with each other or is it limiting our social capacity?
#1 Pro: Always connected. Got a sibling on the other side of the globe? Facetime each other to catch up. Need to check on an important project in a satellite office? Send an email to ask for a report. Curious about what your childhood friend is up to? Check out their Tumblr.
Wherever you are, and whatever you may be doing, you can always reach out to people who are miles and miles away. And in case of an emergency situation, you can feel safer in knowing that you can just call for help, and other people can easily get a hold of you, if they need to.
#2 Con: Always connected. The problem with being connected all the time is that it becomes harder to tune out. You know that your gadget is within arm’s reach, and it will be so tempting to check your email, even if you’re on vacation. You might be fighting the urge to stalk that ex, but knowing you’ve bookmarked their profile, stalking them becomes just a tap away.
And worst of all, when people know you’re always connected, they can disturb you for the dumbest of reasons, and there’s nothing you can do about it. [Read: 6 big reasons to quit cyber stalking your ex]
#3 Pro: You get to keep memories. Whether it’s a wedding, your kid’s birthday party or your cat giving birth to a litter of 8, you can always count on your phone to help preserve those memories with a picture or a video. Upload it online, and you’ve practically immortalized the existence of those pictures and videos.
And it’s not just limited to that, you can even save entire conversations, all for the purpose of reliving the moments you talked to someone you like.
#4 Con: There are no actual memories. The problem with being the one to preserve those memories is that you might end up being too busy to bask in the moment, simply because you’re tinkering with your phone’s settings just to get the perfect angle or the perfect shot.
Chances are, you might not even be in any of the photos. You might even turn into one of those annoying people at concerts who wave their iPads in the air! Sure, you were able to preserve a memory, but were you really there in that moment?
#5 Pro: You become dependable. When people know you’re attached to your gadget, it’s safe for them to assume that you know its ins and outs. They know that you can conjure up movie schedules, restaurant reviews, directions and even instructional articles with lightning speed.
They might even ask you to be the one to help figure out certain settings on their phones, if you happen to have a similar model. You’re like their walking Google and tech person all in one!
#6 Con: You become dependent. Sometimes, you get so used to having information at the tip of your fingers that when your gadget or your internet connection is unavailable, you have no idea what to do. You’ll then realize that back in the olden days, people went to libraries to do research. They went to the actual cinemas to get movie schedules. They unfolded gigantic maps to get from point A to point B.
#7 Pro: You have on-the-go productivity. When you’re waiting in line or you’re on a long train ride, you can squeeze in a bit of work to make the most of your time. As many jobs no longer require you to be in the office to perform certain tasks, you could be in a Caribbean cruise or at a rave, and your clients will be none the wiser. We have become experts of zoning out our environment and focusing solely on what we need to do.
#8 Con: Procrastination. Along with the urge to be productive, there’s also that nagging urge to let work slide and just procrastinate online. You may be stuck in the office, but knowing that you can just whip your phone out and take a look at funny videos makes it all the more tempting not to work. And before you know it, you’ve browsed through every article on Thought Catalog, looked through all of your crush’s vacation pictures, and unwittingly stalked someone who sent your crush a flirty Tweet.
#9 Pro: Dating becomes easier. Online dating no longer has the stigma that it used to ten years ago. With apps like Tinder, Grindr, and what have you, you can get to know more people and ask them out on a date, without even having to leave your home. This is especially good news for shy people, as sending a flirty message is easier than actually coming up to someone and trying to flirt!
#10 Con: Dating becomes too easy. As with all easy things, the convenience of online dating can sometimes be taken for granted. When you meet someone you like organically, you thank your lucky stars and try your best to make things work out. But with the ease of online dating, you can be really picky or fickle, because you know that you have a ton of other options. [Read: 14 dos and don’ts of online dating]
#11 Pro: Quantity of interactions. You can be leaving a comment for your friend on Instagram, chatting with your mom on Facebook, Skype calling with your partner, and composing an email for your boss, all at the same time. You can talk to a multitude of people across a variety of platforms whenever you want to.
#12 Con: Quality of interactions. When our attention span is split across several different conversations through different mediums, are we really spending quality time with these people? At best, we’d be leaving quick, mechanical replies, all for the purpose of assuring them that yes, we’re online. Yes, we’re “paying attention.” And yes, we’re investing our time and attention on fully absorbing what they have to say to us. But who are we kidding?
We’re not like the people in the dark ages who swear that any semblance of technological advancement is some form of witchcraft. But let’s also not be people who are so blinded by the convenience of technology that we forget, genuinely forget, that the less convenient way of interacting may sometimes be the more rewarding.
So what do you think, is technology easing your social interactions or is it preventing you from creating meaningful connections with people? Are you becoming so tech dependent that you’re starting to forget how to use a map or how to flirt without emojis?
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