Opinion | We are too dependent on technology

By Jessica Snyder, Senior Staff Columnist

I found myself in a predicament a couple of weekends ago — my iPhone experienced its final waking moments. It died as I was traveling to my friend’s apartment, the address of which I didn’t memorize. Although I brought a charger in anticipation of a situation like this, my phone wouldn’t work.

I don’t exactly know what caused my phone to die, whether it was an aging battery or new iOS update. It was probably a combination of the two, but nevertheless I was without a smartphone for almost three hours. The experience was sobering and made me realize that smartphones help us do more than just stay in contact with each other. They help us navigate the world, remember to do things and even wake us up in the morning. They do come at a hefty price, though, making this convenience not fully accessible to people of different economic standings. 

When my phone died, I wrote down all the essential things that my iPhone provided me — ability to tell time, navigate my surroundings, communicate, pay for items and so much more. In three grueling hours, my life fell apart because I simply couldn’t live without these things my phone provides me.

Don’t get me wrong, the convenience of having all of these things bundled into an all-inclusive package like a smartphone is nice, but it shouldn’t be the determining factor of whether I can navigate through life.

Things like memorizing phone numbers have become a thing of the past, which is scary because we still use them every day. Often what happens is we type someone’s number in our smartphone’s contact list and then never look at it again. When we go to call or text said person, we only look for a name — not a number. Having all your contacts in one place is arguably worth the cost, but it may not be the most practical for all situations.

It also becomes an issue when you have no sense of direction and can’t read a map — if you can even get your hands on one. We need to navigate and start our days early to go to work or school, making our relationships with smartphones one of dependency.

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Smartphones are much easier and more reliable than traditional navigation. Online maps and simple directions given by others are now seemingly outdated. The fact of the matter is that smartphones used for navigation have become a need, not just a want. Sometimes the cost is even justifiable too, considering that navigation systems can be expensive.

While probably not the most important, it was still distressing for me not to have my digital calendar and notes at my disposal. I do have a physical planner, but I don’t put everything in it. I use my notes as a place for my short-term memory, writing down daily to-do lists and such, so without them I felt unproductive and unthinking. It’s not only extremely convenient, but when included with all the services already mentioned, it seems almost senseless to have a physical calendar when your smartphone can do almost anything. They’ve become obsolete.

An alarm clock and a flip phone was what I planned to get when I was able to log into my MacBook and tell my friends what had happened. If I wasn’t able to reset my phone or buy a new one, I would have to have multiple different items with each having different purposes. Smartphones are great at combining the duties of these tools under one device — but at what point does it become too much?

Having an iPhone sometimes calls for a computer that can be used for data restoration. If at first you think about investing in a smartphone because of the convenience that it provides, you then have to think about shelling out some money for a computer when your phone becomes unreliable. Before you know it, you’re roped into a tight chokehold of technological dependability sold as convenience.

Not everyone has the money for a smartphone or a computer, but we’ve created a society where you have to. The majority of Americans do have computers and internet access, but certainly not all. Some people might opt to stay away from technology, but others can’t afford it. It is getting to the point where it’s nearly impossible to function without a smartphone, but we are leaving people behind in the wake of our capitalist greed.

If I could survive as a college student off of a flip phone, I totally would, but it’s just not possible anymore. It’s so convenient and we’re so dependent on smartphones already that it would seem counterintuitive to undo something that is already benefiting our capitalist society. 

Jessica Snyder primarily writes about controversy in art and politics. Write to her at [email protected].