Smartphones: A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

by Sonya Mohamed

It’s time to get real about how we use and relate to our smartphones today. We are spending less time with each other and living much of our social lives in virtual spaces through devices. If I’m curious about how a friend is doing, I’ll look them up on Facebook or Instagram to see what’s new rather than calling them or asking them to grab a cup of coffee to catch up. Our phones wake us up, they give us tailored information about news and events based on clever algorithms, they guide us from point A to point B while providing snazzy music to jam out to, and so on. Every day it seems there is some new novel service our phones can now provide us. They have become our most valued companion, not just a cherished possession. We often interrupt an actual conversation with friends, family and colleagues to check a text or email, or take a call. For most of us, our relationship with our phone is more intimate than we’d care to admit or maybe are even conscious of. The anxiety around losing, misplacing or forgetting our phone  rivals that of breaking up with a partner or having a big fight with a close friend or family member.

If you’re like us at Nature Unplugged, you might be wondering about the impact of this cultural shift informed by the rise of smartphones and social media. If so, we’d recommend reading the following article from the Atlantic by Jean M. Twenge, Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation? Twenge offers compelling quantitative and qualitative data to discuss the mental-health implications for this smartphone generation. If we aren’t thoughtful or conscious about how we use our phones, they might prove to be a wolf in sheep’s clothing.