The bright white screen greets me almost as soon as I open my eyes in the morning. It’s also what I see just before I close my eyes at night. A simple fingerprint recognition, and I’m in. Snapchat, Twitter, Instagram, iMessage. Every free moment I have is controlled by the 5 by 3 inch device in my hands.
“You’ll become addicted to that thing,” my mom often says but I never take her seriously. Who actually believes their mom when she says that? Sure, I didn’t need to be browsing my Instagram feed during church, and I probably could’ve been taking notes in biology instead of Snapchatting, but I never saw myself as “addicted.”
My phone is constantly distracting me. Even after I’ve skipped swim practice to work on homework, I repeatedly tell myself five more minutes — until an hour has passed; which eventually turns into two hours of stalling on my phone. Not only am I blatantly addicted, but this procrastination is causing my grades to slip, due to lack of studying.
As I drag myself out of bed to turn off my alarm, I check Instagram’s popular page, throw on clothes, makeup and head to the table to eat breakfast. As I’m shoving cheerios in my mouth, I’m maintaining my Snapchat streaks.
“I’m leaving. Come with me or don’t, but I’m not waiting,” my brother says as he’s already on his way out the door. I had barely had a bite of my breakfast, but I was out of time. Probably shouldn’t have spent those 10 minutes watching Snapchat stories before breakfast.
For the 10 minute car ride to school my head is in my phone. I don’t look out the window; my brother and I don’t talk. I’m occupied switching between the same three apps I always do: Instagram, Snapchat and iMessages.
As I enter the school, I’m intentionally checking social media to avoid awkward eye contact, a tactic I developed the first week of school. While I was looking at three St. Theresa’s girls’ snapchat stories of their campus cat, I could have waved to my best friend from sixth grade, but instead we pass each other by. As I approach a group of friends, finally my phone goes away.
“Did you see the sunrise over the school this morning?” Helen asked. She asks me this because I used to catch as many sunrises and sunsets as I could, but I barely pay attention anymore. Realizing that I didn’t see it because I never looked up from my screen, I feel a pang of guilt. I’m losing a part of myself to this hand-held screen, but I can’t resist the urge to check notifications every 10 seconds.
It’s lunchtime, and Rachel and I notice a couple of boys freestyling a rap from the table across from us. I pull out my phone from my waistband and open Snapchat to record the freestyle. As soon as the allotted 10 seconds of recording time ends, I begin another video, not wanting to miss a second. After the rap is over and the guys high five, Rachel and I return to our friends. They want to be filled in, and I realize I have no memory of it, only the videos.
This makes me realize that before long high school will be over, all I’ll have to account for the experience will be hundreds of Snapchat videos.
What am I missing while my head is down? When I’m out with friends, why am I reading a novel length birthday dedication post —something I honestly couldn’t care less about— but I’m somehow unable to squash the urge to put it away.
It’s compulsive, this feeling of every few minutes needing to check if someone Snapchatted, texted, tagged me. But I can’t seem to pry my eyes away from the phone. What passes me by, other than my life?
So before I let high school get away from me, I’ll have to find a way to limit phone time. Whether that be swallowing my pride and admitting my mom was right, so she can keep it away from me, or conjuring up some self control. These are the best four years of my life, right? I don’t want to spend them with my face to the screen.