If you forgot your phone at home, would you go back all the way to retrieve it? Of course you would! Now, if you forgot your wallet at home, would you go all the way back to get it back? Possibly. In other words, while we can survive without our wallets, we can’t survive without our phones.
A lot of research has been devoted to the increasing reliance on current generation phones. Arlene Harris, a telecommunications entrepreneur, forcefully stated in a recent Article that “today more mobile phones are used than people, but measuring the amount alone trivializes the importance of the mobile phone to those who rely on it”. Put another way, while the sheer number of phones in this world is remarkable, what’s even more amazing is the level of impact these devices have.
Phones are used for just about everything and have essentially become extensions of our bodies. They tell us when to wake up and when to go to sleep, remind us of medical appointments, deposit checks, and provide endless forms of entertainment. Mobile phones have also revolutionized many aspects of society. Health apps have taken medical care to places that were previously unreachable, and navigation apps have allowed us to travel further, more safely and efficiently than ever before. The cell phone revolution has even played a role in court decisions. in a Article by Sarah Jeong, discusses how in Riley v. California Supreme Court’s 2014, Chief Justice John Roberts identified phones as an integral part of human existence, a decision that has already affected numerous areas of law.
So it’s no surprise that this reliance on phones creates an endless list of unread messages. In Joanna Stern Article “Sorry, I missed your text: Messaging is the new email,” he states, “Messaging apps are no longer just a place for close friends and family; now they are also the place where we synchronize with the parents of the class, the business contacts and all the expected attendees of the next family reunion”. Whereas in the past companies and organizations sent spam to our email addresses, now it often reaches us through text messages. Stern attributes this to “all want[ing] to meet where we are most engaged and receptive.” Even YU falls into this category. Whereas in the past, announcements about events might have been limited to emails, now there are numerous group chats for all different purposes, including Judaic events, clubs, speakers, and more.
Almost every time I pick up my phone, I find myself lost in a sea of WhatsApp messages from random group chats. Sometimes I feel like if I don’t use my phone for a significant period of time, then I need to spend a similar amount of time catching up on my unread messages. The large number of ads and group chats in the club make it difficult to find the most important messages from friends and family.
The feeling of having to catch up on messages or go through a lot of emails can be very overwhelming and stressful. However, there are ways to manage constant cell phone notifications while still being fully active in our lives. To better separate work and family, Stern suggests relegating certain messages to your company email address, allowing you to keep your messaging apps almost exclusively personal. Also, if you are completely uninterested in being contacted by a company, feel free to leave the chat or unsubscribe. As Stern points out, “we can’t be engaged and responsive if we can’t separate the important from the unimportant.” Similarly, if you’re rarely going to read any of the messages in a group chat, maybe think again before joining. Finally, to limit the long list of texts, you can set aside certain times during the day to catch up or make sure you answer them all before going to sleep.
Since we live in an age that is so dependent on technology, it is of the utmost importance for us to actively determine what role our phones play in our lives. Coping with the endless backlog of text messages that many of us have can be daunting. However, by taking time to respond, separating the important from the unimportant, and not hesitating to leave chats, we move from a state of constant stress to one of undivided attention on the most important things in life.
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Caption: WhatsApp notifications
Photo credit: Medium.com