By Madison Gillespie
I think it’s time that you and I had a chat. No, I know what you’re thinking; this isn’t about my contract being up in a few weeks, or the latest model of you that came out that you were worried had caught my eye. (For the record, I never thought rose gold was all that anyway.)
I’m not breaking up with you, Smartphone. You’ve been by my side (literally, in my pocket) for several years now, and I don’t intend to have it any other way.
That being said, I think we seriously need to reevaluate our relationship. Because let’s face it, you and I both know that what we have isn’t healthy. This past year of college has taught me that.
Now, Smartphone, don’t get me wrong, we have had more than our fair share of good times. Starting my freshman year of college was one of the most defining moments of my life. The instant I set foot on campus, I knew that something had changed. I was completely on my own for the first time in my life, and suddenly what had once seemed like an enigma of a campus had become a place overflowing with opportunity (and in my case at the University of Illinois, corn and squirrels).
I was ready to take on the world, and Smartphone, that’s where you came in. Through you, I have been able to document my crazy and wild ride through freshman year, capturing the memories I’ve made along the way. I now have record of the amazing places I’ve gone and the incredible friends I have made, of countless campus dates with my wonderful boyfriend, of late-night concerts and formals and comedy shows. I have been able to keep a record of all of these things and more because of you, Smartphone, and for that I cannot thank you enough. I can look back on these memories whenever I want to, and now they will be preserved for a lifetime.
But unfortunately, Smartphone, I’ve discovered that there’s a darker side to you, too. While we have been able to record so many memories together, I’ve learned that in many ways, you’ve actually been holding me back. Many days, I’m checking you the moment I wake up, and I can’t seem to put you down when I need to go to sleep. Between classes I feel the urge to check social media or mess around with Snapchat filters instead of reading a book or appreciating the beautiful weather, as I used to do, and even sometimes during classes I can’t go without looking at you.
Every time I’m out and I see something cool, I immediately want to take a photo of it, slap a filter on it and post it on Instagram or VSCO. If I take a picture with friends or my boyfriend, I automatically want it on social media. Every day I’m spending countless hours scrolling through news feeds and sticking dog ears on my selfies and trying to see how many likes my posts are getting and opening apps even when I haven’t gotten any notifications– and for what? Nothing.
I used to think that having a presence on social media would make me happy. But in reality, every time I check one of my countless applications, I find myself getting sucked into some artificial reality where what I have is never good enough. I find myself envying people’s OOTD mirror selfies and wishing I had their clothes, instead of appreciating what I have and loving my own personal style. I see cute couples posting photos of their #datenight and I suddenly feel the need to post a photo of my boyfriend and I when there’s no need to! I’m wasting my hours living unnecessarily and unhealthily through other people’s lives. No, scratch that. I’m wasting my own life. And it needs to stop.
The fact is, Smartphone, you are horribly addicting. All of this time that I spend on you, too caught up in what others are doing to actually do something myself, I’m missing out on making even more great memories. I don’t want to look back on my youth and realize that I missed out because I spent too much time on you. Yes, it’s fun to check social media here and there, but not to the point where I can no longer appreciate what’s going on around me. I may not be the queen of Snapchat, I don’t have thousands of Instagram followers and I’m certainly not going to be getting 200+ likes on my Facebook profile picture. But so what? None of those apps will ever fulfill me in the way real-world experiences do, and I’m done letting social media try to convince me otherwise.
So Smartphone, while I’m by no means breaking up with you, I’m not going to be spending as much time with you as I have been. I’m keeping my social media, but I’m seriously cutting down the amount of contact we have. I want to fully enjoy my college experience and to live my life in the moment. There’s a whole world of memories out there waiting to be made, and I’m never going to find them if I spend my life constantly looking down at your screen.
A student who’s ready to unplug