MU digital
Photo by Madison Cunningham

Put Down the Digital Pacifier, MU

Madison Cunningham

While strolling down the sidewalks of MU, students could notice many things, if only they would look up from their phones.

Many students at MU tend to look past their surroundings and focus on a small device that fits in their pockets. Yet if they looked up for even a split second, they would notice just how bare the trees are becoming, and how much work the maintenance crew has put in to clean up the sidewalks. Or they would see the countless faces they pass every day that go unnoticed in their strolls between classes. Technology may be at their fingertips, but there is so much more to be offered within the environment.

Technology is often seen as a good thing that brings people together and is mostly viewed as a strong form of communication. However, it is found that technology is making communication worse.

When it comes to communication, it is common to see it in the form of text. Yet when people are asked to communicate face to face, a challenge erupts since technology is used so heavily as an aid for conversation.

A field study conducted by Emily Dargo at Elon University concluded that 74% of people use their devices while they are with family or friends. And 46% communicate via devices more than in person. Though it is convent to quickly text or snap peers, devices may be what’s keeping many students—and many generations of students to come—from forming interpersonal relationships.

Next time you’re in class, pay attention to just how many people are on their phones. Constant scrolls may appear in many classes, followed by snaps, posts and much more.

Madalynn Mercer, a first-year student at MU, says that one way she strays away from technology is to go stargazing with friends. “When you detach from your phone, it helps you to better stay in touch with your surroundings,” she says, “and honestly, it can be a lot more fun than just looking at a screen.”

Students might be using technology within their classes for many different reasons. Perhaps this usage is what is keeping them awake in class, or a form of comfort used to shelter them from the awkward feeling they may have when there is no work to be done.

Another study by Live Person INC found that 70.1% of Gen Z and Millennials across the globe sleep with their phone within arm’s reach. And 65.5% bring their phone into the bathroom with them.

Technology has strong potential for progress within quality of life, yet its use is the equivalent of a pacifier for adults. Especially since most people can’t complete basic human functions without their phone being present.

Though it can be hard to detach from a digital security blanket, I challenge Manchester students to put their phones away the next time they wander the campus. As they do, I encourage them to take a deep breath in and admire what the campus has to offer.

May that be to feel the cool autumn breeze running through their fingertips as that same breeze swiftly sends leaves tumbling down in a spiral around them. Or to gaze at the new bell tower, and its century old bronze bells that glisten in the sunlight as they dangle from iron bars in the middle of the mall. Because after all, in the words of an unknown genius, “life is what happens between Wi-Fi signals.”