By Imou Eparis

I read a newspaper article about how phones are ruining relationships. My first response to this claim was denial. How can something that has brought so much convenience to our lives today be ruining relationships? It’s brought us closer than never before and with the current pandemic and classes being held online, the majority of students use their phones to attend classes, this device has become a must-have for group discussions, CATs (continuous assessment tests) and my one-way ticket to graduating! Surely whoever wrote that article must have been from the baby boomer generation (people born between 1946-1964) who failed to understand how the smartphone operates or whose grandchildren spend more time watching YouTube videos than listening to some good old fashion stories straight from shosho.
However, after reading the article, I became more aware of my phone habits. First thing in the morning before I get out of bed, I must scroll through my phone, check for messages, emails, even texts from Safaricom then after two hours of scrolling and screenshotting memes I might never post, start to plan my day. My day is usually filled with 2-3 online lectures and a million assignments (I am not exaggerating) to hand in before midnight. Like the good student I am, I try and beat most of my deadlines but when I don’t I have no valid reason, looking back to how I spent my time in the previous days. It’s just me scrolling through my phone doing nothing productive whatsoever. Which brought me to examine the claim of phones ruining relationships because it was for sure ruining my school assignment time!

I didn’t need to go far to examine this claim, it was happening right at the comfort of our living room, my younger sister having earphones plugged deep into her eardrums watching endless tik tok videos, curled up on the seat next to her is my elder sister, navigating through Facebook, Instagram and Whatsapp simultaneously and my mother, alone, with a gaze that says I am oblivious to all that surrounds me, sitting at the very end of the room, hands folded close to herself. She seats in silence, perhaps thinking? Condemning technology? One can only speculate. This got me asking myself when was the last time I had a conversation with my old lady?

How could I have been so blind to this phonedemic that has been plaguing our nations for a longer time than Covid 19? Perhaps it wasn’t an exaggeration. Maybe we are a little obsessed with our phones. When something like a smartphone is owned by almost everyone, it’s hard to see any bad coming from it. Sure, it’s made keeping in touch with friends, finding a recipe or a song or even finding out what your favourite celebrity was up to during the weekend much easier but we have also become super dependent on it. I have met people who became so anxious without their phones, others feeling “ghost” vibrations now and then, people, myself included who just lost half their day aimlessly scrolling through their phone. People who have completely replaced all their relationships with online relationships and people whose relationships were spoilt because they never really communicated but solved most of their problems via text. Texting leaves room for assumptions, if you want to have a serious conversation with someone I recommend you do it in person.
I am not saying do away with technology or throw away your phone. I am saying, cut down on your screen time, listen to some good old fashion stories from shosho she has been itching to tell, have a conversation with someone, real-life interactions keep the mind sharp or better yet, read a book! The age of the phone has brought with it amazing convenience, that was only a dream to most in the past centuries, but with this great power comes great responsibility ( and great electricity bills).

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