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Techlessly speaking
Techlessly speaking
March 26, 2024
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Techlessly speaking

The challenges of not having a phone in a phone-filled environment
Techlessly speaking

I don’t have a phone. Most people know that about me. As far as I know, I am the only person at BHS who does not have a phone. I don’t have a phone partly due to my parents and partly due to me. My parents aren’t monsters, and I completely understand why I don’t have a phone, and agree with the reasons. If I pressed the issue, I might be able to get a phone, but it’s not something I am interested in.

To be clear, this article is not a complaint. I am perfectly happy without a phone. It’s also not self praise. I don’t think I’m a saint just because I (or my parents) have resisted the multicolored pixelated allure of whichever iPhone is out now.

My social life is a pretty good one, in my opinion. I have a number of friends and acquaintances, I play in the band and swam on the swim team. However, not having a phone can be a bit of a barrier when it comes to meeting people. When I meet someone new, inevitably, they will find out I don’t have a phone. I make no effort to hide the fact. But this causes weird looks. I’ve been asked if I’m Amish (and I’m not). I can’t do anything to change this, because phones are by far the most convenient way of communicating today, and thanks to my apple watch, I can communicate as well. It’s just that not having a phone creates a barrier: one that can be crossed easily for me, but one that still exists.

Swimming on a team and playing in a band requires that contact be made. This complicates things because slack and groupme cannot be downloaded on an apple watch. Again, there’s not much I can do here. Slack or GroupMe are the most convenient ways of communication in this setting, but this is a difficulty, and I rely on other people to give me information during school hours.

Believe it or not, there are multiple positives to not having a phone. I can’t be distracted by the web at my fingertips, I don’t have to deal with the negative aspects of social media, I am not constantly wondering if this moment should be immortalized through photography – let alone with a different filter. I recognize that there are benefits to phones and social media. I would simply like to highlight that schools, environments that have recently become battlegrounds concerning phones, have created a hole in their defense. Schools are now adapting to phones instead of keeping students off their phones for a few hours. Teachers suggest that students stay off their phones, instead of imposing a rule that would arguably benefit all involved. QR codes are being scanned, photos are being taken, phones are being used as a reward system after schoolwork, and all without realizing that phones are being normalized in the academic frontier.

 “I do think phones can be addicting,”  math teacher Genny VanLaar said. “That comes from my own personal experience that sometimes I have a hard time putting down my phone when I should be doing other things.”

Teachers also believe that despite their usefulness, phones can be a bit of a plague.

“It would be nice to see them used less,” VanLaar said.

If I ask one thing, it is for the school to simplify things. The school could post hyperlinks on schoology instead of using QR codes and email important information across school emails. 

My overall opinion of phones is that they are incredible feats of technology and engineering, capable of connecting continents and accessing information at incredible speeds. They are incredible tools. But like any other tool, they can do serious damage if used incorrectly – to mental health, education and society. It is important that phones be used responsibly and correctly, not just for any individual but for anyone who has a phone, because for better or for worse, you are all connected.

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