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Smartphones create social crutch

Smartphones create social crutch (credit: Josh Smith/Forum Editor) Smartphones create social crutch (credit: Josh Smith/Forum Editor)
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I don’t have an irrational fear of technology, and I’m not forecasting the impending robot revolution. My reasons for opting out of the smartphone lifestyle — I think the intense attachment that people have for their smartphones justifies calling it such — are varied.

When smartphones first emerged on the market, my decision not to buy one was based primarily on financial factors. To put that plainly: My parents said I would have to pay for the data plan, and I didn’t have a job. The decision pretty much made itself.

As smartphones gained popularity, my parents noticed all my friends sporting sleek new iPhones and again inquired if I would like one; this time, the data plan would be on them. However, by this point, I didn’t want one regardless of who was picking up the bill.

I have watched as the cellphone population of my friend group swung mainly to smartphones, and two things have stood out to me. First, a person who owns a smartphone is never without it, or is panicking about accidentally leaving it at home.

The phone is either in his or her hand or it’s about to be, often in response to someone asking a question that Google can answer.
The second thing I’ve noticed is the smartphone culture that has sprung up.

People will swap Temple Run high scores on their Android phones, agree to follow each other on Instagram, or just spend a pleasant moment together staring at their BlackBerry screens.

I’ve termed this behavior as “smartphone bonding,” due to the rapid connection smartphone culture often forms.

While I can see that there are many useful features of a smartphone, I don’t want to let a significant portion of my life be defined by my phone. The obsessive feeling that people have toward their smartphones is a type of materialism and dependence that I find uncomfortable. I like not having to worry about my phone like it’s my baby. I can survive a day without it with no panic attacks. My phone has no hold on me — it’s a tool that I use when I feel like it, not a constant extension of my hand.

Additionally, I don’t want my phone to become a social crutch. Conversation stalling? Just pull out your smartphone and hit up Angry Birds. Every second where something isn’t immediately happening is often occupied by the many entertainments smartphones offer.

So yes, my phone only calls and sends texts, and maybe I get lost a little more than the average smartphone user.

However, I console myself with the thought that at least I won’t forget how to keep a conversation going and that I can survive independent of my technology. And, of course, it gives me the slight hope that I’ll survive the eventual robot uprising just a little bit longer.