A World Without Smartphones

Daily Thoughts

The earliest memories of the phone that I remember were the corded phones we used to call our neighbourhood friends. When I flashback to moments in my childhood, the nights were filled with bedtime stories, listening to cassette tapes and humming myself to sleep. The room was pitch black except for the straight line of light seeping through from underneath the door. Through the curtain, you can see the stars shining in the night sky, and you can hear the occasional morepork. Lying there on the bed, listening quietly to my thoughts, breathing slowly and then falling asleep. The night’s for many are now technology-filled with online noise and blue screen lights.

We are like cyborgs as we’ve become inseparable from our mobile devices. When I catch myself walking down the street using my phone, I sometimes feel like a robot. We have become a generation with a huge phone addiction. Our phones, when used in excess, has become a device that has caused a disconnected society. We crave connection, but how deep are the connections that we have? It seems common now that you can be friends with anyone online. I truly think that to have one true friend in this lifetime is one of the greatest blessings.

Our sense of self comes from our character and our heart. The connection we have with nature, music, art or our loved ones can only come from the heart. If we had a look at the hours we spend on our technological devices during a lifetime, it may shock many of us how long we spend our time staring at screens. There is so much precious time that we have in a day. Imagine a world without smartphones or social media. What would be the same and what would be different?

The pros of smartphones and social media

Family and Friends For those who have long-distance relationships with their family and friends, our devices enable us to connect with our loved ones.

Living with convenience We are able to research, read and find information from the touch of our phones. We can shop online, search for a phone number or find directions.

A sense of community and connection Social media can be great for establishing groups that can help support one another.

Sharing creative work Social media can be a great platform for those who want to share their creativity. I wonder if pre-social media created a more authentic space for creativity. The curiosity we have is often found in the quiet moments.

The rise of online communication The ease of communication has also been prevalent since Covid as many companies are now incorporating flexible arrangements, such as remote working.

Searching for knowledge or entertainment Our smartphones make it extremely convenient to search for a word we might know the meaning of or read an interesting article in the news. It can also come in handy for using apps that are educational or fun.

Using Wellbeing apps Regular use of apps that can help with your mental health can be beneficial. I find listening to meditation podcasts every day really helps.

The cons of smartphones and social media

Escapism and distraction Many people want to avoid the discomfort of sitting in silence or appearing to do nothing. The phone has become a safety net to take us away from the present.

Mental health problems Our phones have influenced the rise of mental health problems. This is why balance is so important as the connections we have in-person can contribute greatly to our wellbeing.

Spread of false information Social media can be highly unrealistic and the spread of misinformation is prevalent. There is a rise in fake news and the spread of opinions as facts within news outlets.

Lack of privacy I think we’d all be shocked if we knew how much the online world knew about each and every one of us. Perhaps it would encourage us to limit our phone usage.

Having bad manners When we use our phones at the dinner table or when catching up with a friend; it is bad manners. Eye contact and being present is one of the important aspects of communication.

The rise of consumerism Targeted advertising is a huge market for businesses to earn money right from the use of our phones. Every click and every view we make is all recorded into an algorithmic database to keep track of our interests.

The increase of superficial comparisons The reality is that what we see on social media is a curated image. It is designed to look a certain way. The most human part of interacting with one another is communicating in person.

Social media is designed to be addictive The more time we spend on it, the more money corporations can make. Social media hinders our ability to focus and creates short-term attention.

Children using social media There are more children growing up with technology and social media. Children should be playing outdoors, interacting with their parents, and watching the world around them. The implication for us to also use our phones less rings true.

Tips for using your phone less

  • Using an alarm clock to wake up in the morning
  • Removing inactive or time-consuming apps and disabling notifications
  • Having a purpose for when you use your phone
  • Creating a daily habit of not looking at your phone first when you’ve woke up
  • Spend more time doing the things you love eg. reading, going for a walk
  • Remove or deactivate social media accounts that you aren’t engaged with
  • Reading, people-watching, or daydreaming during your lunch breaks
  • Taking time to journal and reflect during quiet times during the day
  • Go outdoors for a walk and surround yourself with nature
  • Be conscious of when you do use your phone and what you are using it for

What are the main reasons you use your phone for?

Art by Otto Kim

What Did We Do When There Was No Internet?

Daily Thoughts

When I think back to my childhood, I’m grateful for a time when technology hadn’t been as nearly prevalent in our lives. We weren’t surrounded by a screen for a significant amount of the day, and we cherished the moments of going to the cinema to watch a film or played outside in the grass. Children didn’t have any phones in their hands, and there were more eye contact and in-person interaction. We’d hop on over to the neighbour’s house, bounce on the trampolines to play and walk to the beach together. If the internet disappeared tomorrow, what would happen?

There were always shelves of books at home, and almost every weekend we would stop at the local library to borrow books. If I wasn’t practising my flute or piano, playing with the animals or walking around the farm, I’d be reading a book, drawing a picture or playing with my toys. The difference now is that children grow up playing games on a screen, interacting with one another through online and are growing up learning through technology. I felt that we still experienced that feeling in a classroom with only a pen and paper, writing our essays by hand.

Til this day, even at university, I prefer writing with a pen to paper. There are certain things that are still preferred without the internet, such as reading a book or a magazine. There’s nothing quite like having the physical element of a book and being able to flip through each page. Before technology became what it is, life seemed far more innocent and thinking back, we spent a lot of time outdoors running around, and more time talking to strangers. The lack of technology meant there was no form of escapism, and so everyone would talk to one another.

When there were moments that you wanted to escape, you’d draw or read a book in class. I’m sure children now have just as many hobbies, however, I can’t help feel that back then the lack of screens meant that we spent more time exploring with our imagination, and trying new things. We’d spend time going to drawing classes, going to ballet classes, learning new instruments, learning new languages and spending our time experimenting what we like and don’t like, and finding our own unique ways to entertain ourselves and use our time.

In many ways, it was far more polite back then, because if you think about it, anyone who uses their phone constantly when they’re with other people, are not really present there with them. Creativity meant writing little stories, going outside to explore nature and always craving a sense of learning. It meant researching and getting books out to do your projects. I still remember listening to Beethovens Tape to sleep, and the fact that there is barely anyone who still listens to the tape, even though it was only over 10 years ago.

Simplicity and interactivity would be the two things that I think of, that have changed in a drastic way. The way we interact with people has changed immensely, and the simplicity of life has become noisier with the chaotic nature of the online world. In anything, there requires a balance, as too much excess of anything makes it a negative. This means Social Media, the internet and the online digital world can have their positives, but it’s all a matter of balance. We live in a time where things are changing at a rapid rate.

We live in a time where businesses rely heavily on having the internet, students need the internet in order to do research and individuals have the internet to stay connected to news, entertainment and socialising. Meeting people (whether friends or dating) were done in person, sending an email meant sitting down to write a letter and going to the post office to send it and calling a friend meant sitting on a chair where the phone had a wire on it. There was a sense of greater patience we had because the internet is so greatly convenient and fast. I still remember rather than spending 2 hours online, we’d spend 2 hours playing with the cat or going out to slide down the hills on cardboard boxes.

There was a sense of innocence. There was a sense of still not knowing many things, but now with the internet children can know things from such a young age. Remembering life before the internet was a part of our lives reminds us of how much has changed. It reminds us to stay true to our own core values in a trending world. It meant meeting someone in person, before knowing what they looked like from a photo or their profile. It meant playing games together, rather than sitting in a circle looking down at a screen. I miss those elements of simplicity and not knowing everything, but each period of time is a different stage in history, and this is just one of them.

Audrey Hepburn in My Fair Lady (1964)