The proliferation of mobile devices has brought several major advantages. An iPhone can be used to take photos, offer driving directions, send text messages and emails, record videos and so much more. Oh, and it can also make phone calls.
But while such technology is a valuable tool, there is a time and a place for utilization. Pulling out a mobile device in the middle of a conversation is neither the appropriate time nor the appropriate place.
As Elon University students visit dining halls with friends, it is easy to find several of them continually scrolling through their phones and ignoring their peers.
College is a time to interact with people and make new friends. And while it is possible to interact with others in person while checking a phone, there is an opportunity cost. That opportunity cost is missing out on meaningful discussion.
Before criticizing modern communication, it is important to examine how people have isolated themselves through other mediums in the past.
One of the dominant media platforms of the 20th century was the print newspaper. If you are reading this story right now in print, you are among a small population. If you are reading this story past the fifth and sixth paragraphs, you are sadly among an even smaller population.
During much of the 20th century, though, print media was quite popular. The image of a stereotypical male reading a newspaper at the dinner table often comes to mind when thinking about the prominence of print. If one were to look more carefully at that conjured image, he or she would find the male is detached from his surroundings.
Isolation, independence and individual freedom have been at the cornerstone of American culture for several decades.
Both print and digital media have empowered people across the United States to engage with the outside world. But with the advent of mobile devices, it seems people, especially Millennials, have been become heavily dependent on the digital platform as a form of escapism.
According to the Pew Research Center’s Teens, Social Media & Technology Overview 2015, 92 percent of teens report going online daily. This is significantly aided by the convenience and access provided by mobile devices.
Perhaps the biggest disruption during an in-person conversation is when someone has to go to check a text or go on social media.
A separate Pew survey found that “those with lower levels of education are less likely to use social media.”
Because Elon is a more expensive institution filled with high-achieving students, social media usage is quite prominent.
As students increasingly interact with one another through their phones, they should remember to tend to the relationships with the people who are physically around them.
I challenge students to spend one meal a week with a person they know well and not look at their phone under any circumstances. It can seem like an easy feat on paper, but it’s actually quite difficult.
There is a time and a place for using a phone. But cranking out a phone in the middle of a conversation is neither the time nor the place. The hotline fling can wait.