One university student's conflicting relationship with technology and social media

April Xiaoyi Xu |

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I recently came across some research which shows that we millennials literally “love” our phones, and react in the same way to the devices as we would if we saw a loved one. This was a creepy lesson for me.

I am 22, but I consider myself much less addicted to my phone than my peers. For one thing, I rarely use social media, if at all. Still, when I am supposed to be deeply immersed in my casebooks at the law library, I feel a constant urge to pull out my phone so that I can catch up on emails, or check my iCal for appointments.

My addiction to my phone can be justified in a way: I’m a compulsive planner who is constantly thinking about what’s coming up next. What’s more, when certain events, such as lunches with a particularly sought-after professor or alum, have limited slots, email invites require an almost instant response.

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One of my professors has a reputation for using a typewriter and never responding to emails. His habits have challenged me to think about the “good old days” when people did not have the latest technology at their fingertips. The way students interacted with teachers and each other must have been quite different then, and this makes me feel oddly nostalgic about my pre-smartphone days sometimes.

Meanwhile, I have mixed feelings about social media. On the one hand, Facebook functions such as Messenger and Events are one of the easiest ways to communicate with people without needing their phone numbers, and to keep up to date with campus events; I am all for these helpful functions.

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However, I am more sceptical about the whole “liking” business. Humans are social creatures who crave the acceptance of others. But online spaces aren’t always the kindest of places, and young people run the risk of increasing their feelings of self-doubt.

I am not advocating a radical backward change – but I do try to resist the temptation of living too much in the cyber-realm. I recommend others take some time off from their smartphones, even just for a little while.

Edited by Charlotte Ames-Ettridge