Do not settle for virtual reality; live in the real world

8 a.m. Your alarm sounds.

You roll over in bed and the first thing you do is check your Instagram feed. You scroll through hundreds of photos of people you may not even know directly, but somehow find some type of visual gratification from their posts. Next, you log onto Snapchat, Twitter and check your text messages just to see what you missed while you were sleeping, and then you can finally get out of bed.

Time to start your day.

In today’s society, our cell phones have become somewhat of a necessity. Colleges and universities have begun to go more digital by taking the classroom to an online setting, the labor force demands a constant way to be contacted and social groups take advantage of mass emails to get a message distributed quickly and efficiently. Cell phones have made the world a whole lot easier.

But to what extent are cell phones a necessity? Everywhere you go, there are people with their heads in their phones, walking aimlessly without looking up. Cell phones have morphed from a luxury that should not be abused into an item we can’t survive without, and that is a major issue.

Technology and the social media that comes with it have become an addiction.

People text each other from opposite sides of the same room, teenagers Snapchat one another just to save streaks, and if by chance you don’t “like” your best friends Instagram picture by double tapping the photo to show approval, it’s the end of the world.

At what point in time did face-to-face communication and personal interaction lose its importance, and virtual reality take over? People would much rather stay up to date on their friends’ lives through social media, than actually see them in person. Yes, it’s much easier and more efficient than putting the effort forth to interact with others in society but it is not real life only snippets of what can be seen on a screen.

In fact, the scariest part of the social media uproar is that we as technology users do not even realize how much screen time we actually allow ourselves to have. The iPhone now tracks the amount of screen time phone users get per day, so that we can control and minimize our time spent in front of our hand-held devices.

Apple is aware of society’s technology addiction, but they are not the only ones paying attention. In 2016, CNN reported that Americans spend on average 10 hours a day in front of a screen, and that number is constantly climbing. It is now three years later, so one can only imagine how much the addiction has grown.

In a society where technology surrounds us, how is it possible for us to start disconnecting? WIth all things considered, is it possible for us to disconnect? Do our devices control us?

This widespread technology addiction has become such an issue that people can no longer get themselves through their daily lives without their cell phones. Nomophobia, which is the feeling of panic or stress some people experience when they are unable to access or use their mobile phones, has become a very real issue.

Just like any addict, withdrawal from the addictive substance has negative effects, often causing people to panic. Cell phone addiction is a real problem, one a potentially easy fix, but the addicts themselves do not seem to care, and therefore our society continues to live through the reality we see behind a glass screen.  

Cell phones and social media combined have become second nature to the point where it is just instinctive for us to be on our phone, even when we do not need to be. In fact, people have their cell phones in their hands so often that “smart phone pinky,” which is a slight bend or deformity in your pinky finger from the pressure of the cell phone, has actually become an issue with the most aggressive technology users.

Our fingers are actually starting to bend permanently because we as a society do not have enough self-control to wean ourselves away from our cell phones. Although there are no proven negative consequences that result from this odd disformity, it is almost laughable that phone users, myself included, have let ourselves basically morph to our devices.

No one person is guiltier of this addiction than the next, but at some point in time there needs to be a movement to make a change to the way our society uses technology. We as individuals should be capable of living a technology and social media free-lifestyle.

Our devices should be a luxury, not a necessity. Our cell phones should not be the first thing we reach for in the morning and the last thing we look at before we go to bed. We need to be constantly working on our abilities to function in the world without technological assistance, instead of settling for reality through a screen. View it as a challenge to beat the urge. Get out of bed in the morning, brush your teeth, get dressed and start your day. Your phone can wait — believe me.