First published in The Armidale Express
Our generation lives in a world where we are permanently accessible, perennially available.
Switching off from the world has become increasingly difficult and, more to the point, it seems many people don’t want to escape the technological onslaught.
According to a report by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) in 2010, some 95 per cent of Australians aged between 24-35 have a mobile phone.
The report also states that when young people move out of home, one in three choose not to install a landline, relying solely on their mobile phones.
Mobile phones are no longer a luxury, but indeed a necessity in our lives.
Mobile phones have revolutionised the away we communicate, allowing us to get in touch on the go and perceivably making life a lot more convenient.
However, our mobile phone usage has gone way beyond phone calls.
Notably, mobile phones have become a crutch in awkward situations.
It’s just that easy to fiddle about on your phone while waiting to meet up with a friend, rather than feel uncomfortable sitting in a public place on your own.
A long walk provides a perfect opportunity to catch up on phone calls with far-away friends instead of simply taking in the scenery.
If you wish to avoid talking to someone, you can merely pretend you’ve just received a text message which requires an instant reply.
These kinds of occurences make me wonder if we’ve forgotten how to be comfortable being on our own.
Being alone is not the same as being lonely, but our generation seems to have forgotten that.
Mobile phones provide the perfect tool to stave off being alone.
However, it’s not just when we’re alone though that our mobile phones provide an escape method.
At a friend’s workplace, rather than make conversation in the lunchroom, everyone grabs their phones for a quick game of Words With Friends.
On a night out, it’s common for one person to whip out their mobile phone, and soon enough the whole group is on their phones, no longer interacting with each other.
Social networking also comes into play in this equation with checking in at locations online and tagging friends a normal part of evenings out.
A Nielsen survey in 2010 found that more than one quarter of social networkers participated in mobile social networking in the past year and 66 per cent of mobile social networkers are aged under 35.
I’m not going to pretend that I haven’t been guilty of the occasional social networking interaction during a night out, but I can’t help but think that it’s all gone a little bit too far.
When did it become essential to broadcast to the world such brilliant snippets as, “Tearing it up on the dance floor with my besties! So much fun”?
Furthermore, by staying glued to our phones, we may be inadvertently be denying ourselves the spontaneous, interesting kinds of moments that make life that little bit more exciting.
We are instantly more approachable when we’re not desperately trying to appear busy and we are also much more aware of our surroundings.
The chance is there to have an interesting conversation with a stranger, spot a familiar face that you may not have seen if you were busy texting or even just enjoy the moment without distraction.
What do you think?
Do mobile phones actually hinder us as much as they help us?
Can they actually do damage to our social lives?