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Content Any Way U Want It!

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Phones, tablets become crutch, make us forget what it means to be human

I have a confession to make: I am embarrassed for people who are always engaged with an electronic device.

You know, those people who are never not checking their iPhone. Those who are walking around campus reading a text while absentmindedly bumping into fellow pedestrians, engaging some app or another as a distraction from the world in which they live.

These are the people who before a class starts, concentrate intently on the screen. Then during a short down time in class, check to see if someone acknowledged their existence by responding to a text.

This is the person who hides the phone in her/his lap during class, thinking the professor doesn’t recognize the secret fumbling and fingering. And maybe it’s that compulsive need to be stroking and fingering an iPhone that embarrasses me so. It seems so intimate and yet it is done so publicly.

And if what I’m suggesting about the fingering and fumbling causes you to blush, maybe thinking of the electronic device as an adult pacifier is an easier analogy. That’s it — a big person’s binky.

For the infant, the binky allows the child to suckle, just like she would at her mother’s breast. Thus she pacifies that basic urge that signals she is surviving and being nourished and nurtured. However, the binky is not actual sustenance and nurturance.

Are we reassured of our survival by constantly engaging electronically? Are we nourished and nurtured?

In an appearance on “Conan,” the ever-insightful Louis CK explained why he thinks people are compulsive about engaging with electronic devices: “[P]hones are taking away . . . the ability to just sit there. That’s being a person. Because underneath everything in your life there is that thing, that empty— forever empty.”

But he points out that there’s a pay-off if you confront the “forever empty” straight on and simply be present in being alone. A rush of relief/happiness counters the depth of sadness. Louis CK says the electronic device pacifies any depth of feeling, and by being perpetually connected, we do not get to experience profound human feelings.

So what might a person do if he weren’t always engaged with an electronic device? What might happen if the person just sits there? The person might be sad, lonely, unhappy, discontented, bored, or any other uncomfortable feeling. But it’s important to know that we can be okay even when we’re uncomfortable. Maybe by experiencing the uncomfortable, we might come to some greater insights about ourselves and our interconnectedness with others on planes that are not electronic.

The writer Colette encouraged people to “Look for a long time at what pleases you, and for a longer time at what pains you.” I’ll make a deal with you— I promise to look for a longer time at why I am so pained by constant texting if you promise to look for a long time at why it is so terribly scary or uncomfortable to be without that electronic connection. Do we have a deal?

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