For those of you who may not know, many people my age enjoy to play a game called “Would you rather.” The idea is quite simple, one is presented with two options and must pick the one they would “rather” have. Choices can range from simple to complicated to downright disgusting. Here is an example: Would you rather be able to fly, or breathe underwater? Tough choice, huh? But recently I was presented with a “Would you rather” that really got me thinking. Would you rather lose a hand, or never be able to use a cell phone again? At first, I quickly rejected the idea of losing my hand. However, the more I thought about how much I use my phone, I started to think that losing my hand couldn’t be that bad, until I finally came to the conclusion that losing my hand might be the better option.
The willingness I had to lose MY OWN HAND appalled me. And to be honest, I’m probably not the only 21st century human who would actually consider chopping off ‘ol righty for the sake of the cell phone.
The birth of the cell phone happened 42 years ago, and it’s mindboggling to think that the first iPhone was released only 8 years ago. Yet this one device has ingrained itself in our lives faster and deeper than any other technology. In fact, I bet it’s easier to imagine a living, breathing dinosaur outside your window right now, than it is to imagine going one week without your phone. We have become dependent on phones for more things than we can think of. Need a recipe? There’s an app for that. Lost? Google maps can help you out. Lonely? Friendship is only a text away…or is it?
What kind of connection can we have through a screen?
In his video “Can We Auto-Correct Humanity” rapper Prince Ea gives a spoken word on how our technological over-connection has actually made us less connected. His opening line says, “Did you know the average person spends 4 years of his life looking down at his cell phone? Kind of ironic, ain’t it? How these touch-screens can make us lose touch.”
Is he right? Are we losing touch? If every person we know is right at our fingertips, how could we possibly be losing touch?
Perhaps it is because we are beginning to base our humanity in technology. We are feeling fulfilled by how many likes our status gets, we are measuring our worth by how many retweets we get, and we are defining ourselves through our technology. This is not sustainable. Our entire fulfillment is based of a semblance, an appearance, a mere shadow of what true relationship is.
We are systematically removing the human element from ourselves.
However, not everyone is caught up in this culture of cellular connection. New Tech City is very conscious of how cell phone use pervades our lives. In fact, they launched a project on February 2nd, 2015 called Bored and Brilliant in an attempt to “detach from your phone and spend more time thinking creatively.”
In Manoush Zomorodi’s article “The Case for Boredom” she writes, “Fifty-eight percent of American adults have a smartphone today. The average mobile consumer checks their device 150 times a day, and 67 percent of the time, that’s not because it rang or vibrated. Forty-four percent of Americans have slept with their phone next to their beds.”
These numbers are astounding.
The average consumer checks their phone 150 times a day, and repeat, that’s only the average. 150 times a day. I would be willing to bet that that is more times than we say I care about you, I’m listening to you, or I love you combined. Here’s a question: How often do you think about the person you love most in the world? Is it more, or less than 150 times? Are you sure? I hope that we love people more than we love the plastic that “connects” us to people.
New Tech City launched its project Bored and Brilliant in an attempt to reclaim the human element of creativity. When we’re sucked into our phones at all times of the day, we leave no space for creativity that is so innate to human nature. With people like Prince Ea who speak out against being slaves to our phones, and organizations like New Tech City who challenge us with ways to break free of technology, it’s clear that there is a push to get our modern society off of our phones, and into being human.
So would you rather be “connected,” or be human?
By Nate McNab
 Information found at New Tech City’s webpage. For more info go to http://www.wnyc.org/series/bored-and-brilliant/