More often than not, you kind of get a weird look these days if you tell people you don’t have a smart phone, or a Facebook account, or an email address. These days we are hooked into the internet like it’s a permanent drip, feeding out bodies with information and ‘social interaction’.
The younger generation has been born into this life of modern technology, they have iPhones before they finish grade school and they have a Facebook before they’re even old enough to register (if they used their real birth dates). They live and breath technology, and they don’t know anything about life without it. My generation, however (that would be right on the cusp of X ad Y), DO remember a time before technology completely took over our lives.
That’s not to say my childhood was completely barren of technology, I mean, obviously we had TV, and I had quite a few video game consoles. We got a computer the year I started 6th grade, and internet when I was in grade 9. But I remember playing outdoors a lot with the kids in my street, and going out with my family to do things. If I needed to entertain myself for a few hours, I would curl up with a good book. I can remember writing notes to my friends during class and having to wait until I passed them in the halls to hand them over, then waiting another couple of hours for my return letter. We didn’t have texting, and we only had instant messaging on MSN after school (for an hour, before homework). But there was no Facebook (we had myspace), and we socialised by actually talking to each other and hanging out.
I must admit, things have changed with time, my social circle are very much connected by Facebook and text groups more than face-to-face interactions, but that’s because we are busy adults, and not snarky teenagers with time to spare. And even though my friends and I still strive to get together as often as we can, we still rely on technology to get us there. My generation remembers a time before we all had a phone, before we emailed o keep in touch, or organise events, before you had to choose a perfect profile picture and that ideal Facebook status. Heck, I can even remember a time before my family had a computer, let alone the internet (and no, I’m not that old – I’m only three months over 30!). Because we remember what it was like trying to organise a lunch date without texting, we value the ease with which we can communicate these days, and the wealth of information we have access to without having to go to a library or open an encyclopedia.
So how often is too often to check your phone? 10 times a day? 50? What constitutes an addiction to technology? To the internet? I know that I am addicted to technology, and I know this simply by looking at all the devices I have. MacBook, iMac, iPad, iPhone, Xbox. I have unlimited internet at home, and 5GB on my phone plan; and I almost always use it all up. I have accounts on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, Xbox live, Whatsapp, LinkedIn, Gmail, iTunes, YouTube and, of course, WordPress. when I wake up each morning, I check my phone; before I go to sleep at night, I check my phone. It drives my boyfriend nuts. When I’m at work, I take bathroom breaks to go and check my phone (and pee of course). On my days off from work, I’m usually blogging and checking up with social media and reading any articles I’ve saved during the day. And it may even be true, that even when you’re not using it, you’re iPhone is distracting you.
For some, it completely takes over their life, a genuine, life-crumpling addiction. But there are some very real dangers with this kind of addiction, like checking your phone while driving, or loosing sleep, you can read about some more dangers of technology addiction here.
I must admit, unlike the generation below us, I am not entirely wrapped up in my online lifestyle. I like to get out and do other things, and I like to do them often. And I also quite like just ditching the phone to read a good old fashioned book. There should a balance between a full, unattached life, and a life tuned in to technology, however unhealthy that balance might be, I like to believe that we as a generation aren’t completely submerged yet.
I think that because my generation knows what it’s like to be without (modern) technology, they absolutely relish in it now. Especially now that we are old enough to afford it all, too. We use our phones for work, for pleasure, to socialise and plan and bank and catch up on news. But we like ti live a balanced life, plugged in when we need to be, but unplugged when we have to be. It is truly a luxury to live in a world where you can broadcast a thought to anyone who wishes to read it, or chat to a friend half way across the world in a single click. I believe that our obsession, rather than addiction, comes from a love of the technology, a real appreciation of it, rather than an undying need for it.