Saturday, January 16, 2021

Editorial: Slaves to smartphones

Everywhere we go, whether it is the elevator heading up to the fourth floor of Kehoe, the line at Tim Horton’s or the locker room in Memorial Hall, we have the opportunity to socialize and interact with our surroundings. That becomes much more difficult, however, when we walk with our heads down and eyes locked on our phones.

If people aren’t running into fellow passersby or walking straight into traffic because of distractions, they’ve got their headphones in and are oblivious to friends trying to get their attention as they pass each other in the crosswalk.

News editor Tom Marble covers this topic in this week’s article “Cell phones, antisocial habits linked,” and the facts he reports are not overly surprising.

“According to a report released by the Pew Research Center,” Marble writes, “13 percent of younger Americans said they have used their cell phone in public to avoid interacting with others around them.”

We at Cardinal Points, as journalism students, are taught from Day One the importance of paying attention to what is happening around us. The day’s biggest story could happen right in front of us and we would never know unless we become aware, talk to others and ask questions.

But this doesn’t mean we are immune to this trend. As a matter of fact, with the sheer number of apps and services aimed at providing us with the best and most in-depth information available, those in the journalism community may be worse than many others.

The excuse of wanting to be informed and focusing on goings-on at all times should not necessarily pardon people from tuning out to what’s happening right in front of them, though.

If not tamped down now, this trend is only going to get worse and make us worse as well.

This week, we challenge you to unplug and take in your surroundings. Sit in your floor’s common room and interact with your floormates. Invite someone sitting alone in Clinton to join your group. Who knows, you may end up forming a lifelong friend or discover something new about yourself.

If you find yourself questioning whether you’ll be able to do so, remember what Ferris Bueller once said: “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in awhile, you could miss it.” Maybe you too will end up lip-syncing The Beatles atop a float in Chicago — that is, if you’re aware it’s happening in the first place.

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