As I sit in my garden trying to clear my mind, I listen to the wind sweeping through the leaves. I hear the sounds of birds tweeting and sea gulls calling as they majestically fly freely above me. The sun lights up the blue sky with not a cloud in sight, on a clear beautiful Autumn day. I watch the leaves fall from trees to create an auburn red carpet. The air is calm, it smells like November, and witnessing this natural beauty is broken, by distraction, by my mobile phone.
This piece of technology costs hundreds of pounds and provides us with access to email, social media, movies, games, shopping opportunities and more – we can do everything we want using a mobile phone! But, can we? Is this technology just an example of how the world we live in today has disjointed us from the things that really matter? I stop typing to look up for a moment – I see a plane, more birds and a robin land on my fence. What have I missed whilst I have been looking down at my phone? I will never know.
This simple scenario reminded me of what’s happening in my opinion, on a global scale – mobile phone addiction and that technology is taking over our lives. I remember years ago travelling on the London Underground tube making small talk with fellow passengers. These days eye contact is avoided and people, like robotic zombies, have their chins-to-their-chests and eyes-locked onto their device. Wouldn’t it be nice to see someone give up their seat to an elderly person instead of being consumed by their mobile? Wouldn’t it be nice to see kids kicking leaves and jumping in puddles rather than holding iPads and mobile phones? When I was a kid I was happy playing in mud!
Are we allowing technology to take over our lives to the point that we miss the important things? When did you last check your email or update your social media? When did you last call your nan?
No amount of time staring at a screen helps my own mental health, especially during lockdown. But an hours gardening in the fresh air has brought a sense of satisfaction and freedom, and my mind even though just for an hour forgot Covid-19, it forgot lockdown, it forgot about all the negativity that we’ve seen during 2020.This year has been extremely difficult for many. People’s mental health is a serious problem only worsened by the feeling of being trapped during a pandemic and two lockdowns. There are of course huge perks to technology with the likes of Zoom allowing us to catch up with family and friends during a time when we are not allowed to see them. Internet allows for home shopping deliveries which is vital for the elderly.
But on the flip-side, social media platforms for example use clever algorithms, developed to keep your attention locked constantly learning and displaying content it knows that you like, only keeping you locked for longer. Is social media… really… social? Or is it just about data? Are we apart of a bigger picture and larger problem – who’s seen Cambridge Analytica!?It’s a big subject and regardless of any conspiracy theory, technology clearly has many benefits. In my view, it’s easy to be consumed by technology, by social media and it’s algorithms, and by doing so missing out on “real” life – no longer do we use a mobile phone to send a quick text or make a quick call. Mobile phones are such powerful devices and seem to literally take over our lives – mobile phone addiction all of a sudden seems very real, and it is: Nomophobia is a term describing the fear of being without a mobile device.
So, what really matters in life? Is it the level of engagement you get on social media? Having the latest iPhone with the fastest processor and newest camera? Is it really staring at a screen for hours-on-end?
Could it be that if we spent more time appreciating the “freedom” we have, outside of technology, that this might lead to people being healthier and happier?
Are you spending too much time using technology maybe looking down at your phone too often and missing out on life? Maybe we should consider these final two words I write, not only for the purpose of the old saying to cheer someone up and keep them strong, but to take their literal meaning to remind ourselves to absorb our world, the freedom it offers us, and to avoid a human collision on the footpath: Chin up.