Imagine this: You're hovering by the wall at a stranger's party, your red solo cup is empty and the one friend you know is off making out with hot David from psychology class. Looking around for a snack table or a pet to help you avoid people, your options feel limited.
So annoying… you only agreed to come to the party because Susan suggested your knitting was getting out of hand, and now she's abandoned you, that traitor.
With no chip bowls or dogs around, your despair increases until suddenly you remember the only tool that can save you from socializing: your mobile phone. Just a quick dig through your bag and voila: you're saved.
But what's this?? You forgot to charge your phone before leaving the house – a rookie mistake that's left you reeling.
You take one last desperate look around the room for an abandoned charger, but it's too late. The phone is dead, as are your dreams. *
Mobile phone use has skyrocketed in recent years, with smartphone technology giving these devices more abilities than even Marty McFly and Doc Brown could have predicted. With the integration of cameras, calculators, and hundreds of apps into one package, cell phones have become a source of knowledge, communication, and freedom all at once – readily replacing previous technologies (and even people in some cases).
As our smartphones provide us with new opportunities and further reach, it's easy to assume that they afford a kind of freedom – to explore, engage, and be independent of libraries and clunky technologies.
Though this is true to some degree, for many of us, this freedom has proved a double-edged sword as our smartphones have become extensions of ourselves. We're so attached to our devices and their powers that a day without them leaves us feeling hopelessly lost, and not only because of the GPS.
This balance between perceived freedom and a different kind of restriction is perfectly exemplified by battery life. As our reliance increases, phones are necessarily rated not only on their sex-appeal or high-tech powers, but on their ability to hold a charge.
When the iPhone 7 was released, for instance, articles praised the new camera, faster processing, and lightweight feel, yet a large portion of reviews have focused mainly on the increased battery size and resulting ability to hold the charge that gets us through the day. Besides the wacky audio jack situation, the only issue discussed tends to be the expanse of time required for the battery to be revived - an incomprehensible 3 hours.
A common annoyance with smartphones, it draws an interesting parallel on the implications of technology's presence in our daily functioning while seemingly presenting us with unlimited opportunities at the touch of our fingers – be that dating, pizza, or a quick discussion with friends (provided it's over text only, god forbid an actual phone call).
While our smartphones can make us feel powerful and all-knowing, at the same time they build real limitations into how we carry on with our lives. Think back to that party situation – sound familiar? Many youth describe moments without their phone as times where they feel like something is missing, like they're naked.
Our generation's separation anxiety when it comes to technology draws a picture of dependency and addiction that was never an issue before the adaptations that make our devices so beloved. It has become the new norm to leave the house with a charger or power bank to ensure that we prevent the worst possible scenario: a dead phone and the resulting face-to-face socialization.
Though we may have the freedom to roam and ~connect~ regardless of location, digital media has us shackled, always in search of the nearest outlet.
Though we tend to be unashamedly aware of this ironic cycle, odds are nobody is planning to ditch their device anytime soon.
[insert Stockholm Syndrome joke here]
So the next time you're abandoned by Susan at a party (damn it Susan), just remember that, while a soothing accomplice, your phone isn't the only option to get you through the night. Get out there and meet some people. Maybe even leave your phone at home on purpose (sounds crazy I know).
Whatever step you take, fear not, for our phones will always be there for us in the end, welcoming us home (so we can charge them again).