“Yeezy Yeezy Yeezy just jumped over jumpman,” and Kanye jumped around on his floating, magic stage last Friday as he announced his official return to “State-cago,” in his own words.
It was quite the spectacle—one of the modern kings of rap on what looked like an indoor spaceship, running around as if he was part of the mosh pit below him.
I stared, open-mouthed, at the lights and the fogged and his semi-impressive dance moves. Immediately, my hand reached into my pocket, pulled out my phone, and took several pictures and videos for my snapchat story. Because if you don’t post it, it didn’t happen, right?
Wrong. It did happen, you just missed it because you, all of us, were too busy staring at our screens and those yellow and blue icons that capture all of our attention. We can’t focus for twelve minutes without refreshing our feeds or sending a snap. And when something awesome happens right in front of us, we record it, we don’t take it in.
The truth is, we’re addicted. I’m definitely addicted. I waited until tonight to write this post because I was too busy reading twitter posts last night. I can barely read a textbook because twitter is constantly, softly calling my name. I’m sure you’ve had nights like that as well.
I’m not trying to sound like one of those purist columnists who constantly condemns the digital age and those kids with their thumb-cancer machines. We really can’t be blamed for our addiction. Smartphones literally place our universe—our family, friends, passions, interests, etc.—in the palms of our hands. The entire wealth of human knowledge is at our disposal. We wield immense power through the ability to have our ideas shared and commented upon.
This technological revolution and the benefits that accompany it can be the next step in humanities ever-extending quest for improvement. But as with every great and powerful invention—the printing press, the atom bomb, easy-mac—it’s usefulness and power will depend on how we decide to use it.
We have two choices—we can harness technology, or we can allow it to harness us. If we stop now, regulate our use of social media and the internet and rebuild our attention spans, we can have the best of both worlds. We can control information while still retaining the cognitive function of our brains. If we continue to heedlessly lose ourselves in endless timelines and chats, we will quickly become overwhelmed, and will to some extent lose our ability to function.
I’ve tried to take the first steps to control my use of social media. It’s no longer the first thing I open when I wake up. I try my best not to look at my phone while studying, and I keep it in my bag during class. It often feels like something’s missing, but I’m told that this is normal. Control comes at a cost, and I’d rather lose some instant knowledge than my sanity and ability to focus.