Stare at That Screen Too Long, and You’ll Go Blind

by Dylan Johnson

Dylan_Johnson   In October of 2014 I attended a live event at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. It was a professional wrestling show called Monday Night Raw, and I was incredibly excited to be there. I had been a wrestling fan my entire life. Up to that point I had never attended a live event without a friend or family member; this was the first time I was going alone. Once I got past the metal detectors and had my ticket scanned, I immediately went to use the bathroom. I went into the bathroom with my brand new phone in my pocket and came out with it missing. Instantly, panic took over me, and I frantically ran back into the bathroom to see if I had dropped it. While I’m looking around a crowded bathroom, an employee from the Barclays Center approached me. The man could tell that I was extremely flustered. When I told him I lost my phone, he kindly offered me his phone so that I could call mine with it. Ring, ring, ring. Someone picked up. Then, they immediately hung up. My phone had been stolen. I was furious! I realized very quickly that I had two choices: one was to let these circumstances ruin my night, the other was to forget about the phone and enjoy the show I’d come to see.

crowd-on-phones-at-concert.jpeg      I decided that I wasn’t going to let a petty theft mess up my night. I decided that I was going to stay and watch Monday Night Raw in its entirety. Near the end of the show a very popular wrestling superstar and movie star, Dwayne (The Rock) Johnson, came out, and the roof flew off the building. I jumped out of my seat, raising my arms into the sky. I couldn’t contain myself! “If ya smell what The Rock is cooking,” I shouted at the top of my lungs. I stopped watching the show for a moment and took a look around at the other audience members at the event. I noticed that the majority of people had their phones out and were recording the event, watching it through their phone screens. It amazed me how many people were watching this event through a six-inch screen, considering they had paid for a ticket to be there live. Concerts and live events were once an interaction between the performers and the audience members. Now, people go to the event and watch the entire thing through their mobile device just so they can show people that they were there. By doing so, they are missing out on the actual event happening before their eyes.

If I had not had my phone stolen, I would have been one of those people on their phone the majority of the time as well. It took a man stealing my phone directly out of my pocket for me to realize that sometimes we just need to set down our devices and live in the moment. This has got me thinking about the role technology plays in our lives. We can order food, clothing, furniture, and almost any essential and non-essential thing all from our devices and never even have to leave the house. We can even do the majority of our interacting with others on a daily basis on our electronic devices. There are applications that are designed for us to judge a person exclusively based on their appearance. If you like the pictures of a person, swipe right. If you don’t like what you see, swipe left. This is all with the hope of eventually meeting up with that person and forming a connection. How can you tell if you’re going to connect with someone when you’re judging exclusively on their appearance?

In my opinion, interactions on social media sites are impersonal and can seem shallow. While these sites can be useful for certain situations, the idea that they may be the only interaction with people that one has on a daily basis is a scary thought. In a day and age when almost everything one can do can be done from within one’s home, the importance of disconnecting from your devices to interact with actual people is greater then ever. Technology will always be around, but we must use it sparingly when it comes to personal situations. For someone to email a co-worker is one thing, but if it’s the birthday of someone you are close with, don’t just send them a message on Facebook, meet up with them in person! I’m guilty of these things as well. I scroll through Instagram and Facebook many times a day because it’s what my mind automatically goes to when I’m bored. Even now, sitting in the Brooklyn College Library, I find it ironic that I am ignoring the people around me to type this story on my laptop.

In today’s society, people can get so caught up with electronic devices and tend to ignore the people that they come in contact with on a daily basis. Yes, technology and our devices have made the world smaller and life easier, but the true value in life is the relationships you make and sustain. We are so caught up in our digital lives that we often tend to forget about our actual lives. We all need to take a moment to step away from our electronic devices and make time for the people who truly matter. If these are the problems that adults are having currently in society, just imagine the children who know nothing but this digital age. We must not allow the advancements of technology to regress us socially as a society.

My mother used to always tell me when I would watch television as a child: “Dylan, if you stare at that screen too long, you’ll go blind.” Well, Mom, while I still have 20/20 vision, I realize that you don’t need to lose your vision to be blind to the world around you.

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