My Flip Phone

Choose the invention that you think has had the most negative impact on our world and explain why you chose that invention.

Recently, I attempted the ultimate in mailed communication; I mailed a potato to a friend at college. Another friend and I covered it in sticky postage stamps, attached an address label, and waited for the surprise to be discovered in the college mailroom. This must have been more exciting than any two-dimensional exchange of a few words on a smartphone. With texting, a message is scrambled together in seconds and sent without a second thought of whether it was worth it or not. Yet writing old-fashioned letters, whether to a friend or a major corporation, took time and planning. People who wrote these letters spent hours, even days rereading what they had written, editing and perfecting each sentence. They then had to fold the letters up, seal the envelopes, and make their way down to a mail box or post office. With this extra process, they gained time to think about whether or not what they were saying was actually what they intended.

As a teen in the twenty-first century who is still carrying a ‘slide phone’ around with her each day, I can personally attest to the struggle of communicating properly. When people see my ‘antique slide phone,’ their first reaction is to laugh and ask why I would still have such a device. The smartphone has become a social norm for the millennial generation. However, my outdated phone is one of the main reasons that I still value face-to-face conversations over text. It takes more effort to punch out each word, rather than sliding my fingers around on a flat surface, making me think about whether my message is actually worth the time and effort I would be putting into sending a text.

Though I often feel left out as all my friends pull out their smartphones to document every moment via social media, I realize that they tend to miss the real points of each experience. When screens are constantly in front of their faces, they miss what’s going on all around them. As they all crowd in for the best selfie at the First Friday Art Walk, they fail to recognize other friends who are in the area, a street performer, the dancers in the window, or an unexpected adventure. Their social life is limited to the devices in their hands instead of the world around them.

The way people look at and live in the world changed forever with the development of the smartphone. Younger generations are especially vulnerable to being lost behind glass screens and meaningless text messages. One has to wonder how this shift will impact their personal and professional relationships. Will they be able to survive college interviews? Or is it time to embrace the ‘slide phone’ once again?

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