Phones create zombie culture

Pierce Landry, Contributor

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In 1968, director George A. Romero revolutionized the horror and zombie movie genre with his film The Night of the Living Dead, and almost everyday I feel as though I’m in one of his films at lunch, everyone hunched over and looking at their phones in a catatonic state, with a little speaking here and there to discuss something of little substance.

Now- yes, I know what you’re thinking: 1) That only has the slightest bit of connection with several zombie movies directed by George A. Romero, and 2) I have got to be over exaggerating this situation.  

These might be, to some extent, true; however, the sense and tone they give off- no matter how exaggerated or not- are the same. The same sense of dread I get when watching zombies infest a mall I get when noticing just how few people are looking and talking with each other.  Not only dread, but also a feeling of utter loneliness. But to explain the situation we find ourselves in today, I feel it’s necessary to travel all the way back to the 1930’s.

In 1932, an English author by the name of Aldous Huxley wrote his most famous work, a dystopian novel called Brave New World.  In his novel, he envisioned a future based on stability, happiness, and a bunch of conditioned clones that have been taught to serve the new world order; all fun happy stuff.  

While Brave New World concerns social class and structure, it also deals with the classic theme of being an outsider; an individual; challenging something so large and integral that they almost seem predestined to lose. The outsider Huxley imagined was John, a ‘savage’ that has lived apart from normal society and sees all the flaws that it permits in order to keep stability and happiness for everyone- and even though there isn’t that much emphasis on technology in Brave New World, there is an emphasis on individualism and loneliness, with John feeling so utterly alone and misunderstood by the end of the book.

Flash forward to the 21st century- no new world order, or at least not yet.  More and more people are finding themselves on their phones for a few more minutes, which leads to a few more hours, which put together leads to a few days and could lead to a potential lifetime on nothing but their phones, browsing the Internet.

Instead of going against a new world order like John does in Brave New World, we find ourselves waging a battle with our phones and social media for dominance to live our lives frequented by people we have a real connection with and try not to become lonely due to time spent on our phones.

After all, there were 4.57 billion people in the world who had phones in 2018 according to a recent study from Statista; that means if we’re not careful with our time and oversaturation in the world of mobile phones, that’s 4.57 billion people who can potentially lead their lives as disconnected, lonely individuals who don’t have anyone to really relate to.  

Now- I’m not saying that phones are bad, or the Internet for that matter as well.  Phones and the Internet are quite useful and fun sometimes, but there should really be a point where you ask yourself- how much time is too much time?  If all you do is live on your phone hour after hour, the real world connections and relationships you’ve made might seem meaningless and fade away; leaving you with nothing but an illuminating screen.

Phones aren’t that bad; all I’m saying is that too much of them can lead to loneliness and a disconnection from life.  

According to a study done at the University of Glasgow, there was a link between time on social media with problems like lower self esteem and higher anxiety and depression; making it seem to someone who spends all their time on their phones or other electronic devices that everything in their life is going awful and making it difficult for them to find worth in their life, leading to the kind of isolation that a person would find almost unbearable.  

While online they might be trying to convince their friends of things and events that never took place, this mask they are putting on just leaves them feeling more shallow and lonely, having a life in the real world that is nothing like the one they want to have.   

I’m not exactly innocent of this sort of thing by any means as well, I go on my phone everyday and do the exact same thing as the people around me, just buzzing around on the internet and social media with no real purpose- but once I’m done I do feel a little guilty.  I’m not the only one who feels this way either, a bunch of university students across the country thought that phones were “intruding” on their personal relationships, driving a wedge between them and the people that really mattered to them. Whether this intrusion be on purpose or not, it doesn’t solve something that could become a real issue in the future, when you look back on your life and realize you wasted it all on your phone doing mindless scrolling instead of living to the fullest; building a wall of fake completeness on social media so people will think more highly of you; trying but failing to connect within the contents of only the world on your phone.  

Giving up your phones is impossible- I know this and you know this and the whole world knows this.  Phones can be used for many purposes and I fully understand that, but what if instead of during a lull of conversation at a social gathering or when you’re just hanging out with friends, make a conscious effort to not spend as much time on your friend and instead engage with people.  It could be for one less minute or it could be for one less hour, but whatever it is try and make a difference so maybe, just maybe, you won’t be as alone in the future.