The technology has now become ubiquitous, and students are no different from anyone else in their addiction to smartphones. The underlying question is, why were we all so vulnerable to smartphone addiction when the gadgets arrived on the scene? The answer lies in our nature.<idle musing>
College students are a symbol of the larger society. This is so because, contrary to what some of the evidence suggests, college students are human, and, as such, share our basic moral and spiritual make-up. It might be tempting to think technology has changed this basic human nature. It has not.
Technology amplifies, but does not alter, who we are. We are creatures with a deep and abiding desire to avoid the real. We seek to escape awareness of ourselves and of God through distraction and denial, a point Pascal made centuries ago when he famously pointed out that all the trouble in the world stems from people’s inability to sit quietly in their rooms alone. Not much has changed.
The common root of every instance of denial and pernicious distraction is not technology, but the inner fear of seeing ourselves as we actually are. We much prefer to see ourselves as we imagine we are. When others refuse to play along, that fear can easily become anger at them for exposing our game. The quest to leave our vices behind and achieve the peace that can only come from living with integrity demands that we do the opposite, that we face our shortcomings squarely, even if that means enduring some temporary discomfort. Too many of us remain stuck in the grip of our vices simply because we have developed the reflexive and automatic habit of avoiding knowledge of them. A quick reach into the pocket or a quick scroll with the thumb is all that is required.
Ouch! But he's correct. Our society's drug of choice right now the smart phone, which is becoming smarter all the time (while we become dumber!). As a small voice of protest, I changed my email signature on my phone from "Sent from my [insert name of brand here]" to "Sent from my not-so-smart phone." Ok, it's a dumb protest, but maybe, just maybe I'm protesting because I know I'm more addicted than I'd like to admit.
What about you?