Almost every week I get asked the question, “Why don’t you have a data plan?”. Everyone assumes that the reason is to save money. When I say that I just do not want one, people move forward to the next question, “Why not?”. In this post, I hope to clearly show you why I am against having a data plan.
Imagine that a professor is giving a complex lecture. A student raises his hand, and the professor takes the student’s question. After the professor answers it, two other students raise their hands. The professor answers both of their questions. By the time the professor goes back to the lecture, the professor and the students will lose track of the point at which the lecture was interrupted.
The same rule applies to your everyday life. You may be reading a book at a coffee shop. Then, your phone whistles (I am an Android fan). You check your phone and find that Facebook sent you a notification saying that some of your friends have birthdays. You click on it to see whom and wish them happy birthday. Then, you go back to your book. After a couple of minutes, your phone whistles. You check your phone to find the message, “Log in to sync Facebook with your other apps.” Clear notifications. Go back to your book.
Push notifications are attention killers, no matter whether you open them or not. Hearing them makes you feel uncomfortable, seeing them distracts, and opening them takes you on an endless tangent.
When I am hanging out with friends or attending social events, nothing bothers me more than seeing people scrolling through their phones. Sometimes I hold myself and stare at them until they stop. One time I did that, and my friend asked me to keep on talking. I did and then asked him a question. His reply was, “I am hearing you. Go on.” He surely was hearing me, but he had no idea what I was saying.
This 24/7 access to fast Internet is deteriorating our social skills. When friends sit together, they no longer have anything to say. What they end up doing is taking selfies, posting them online, and spending the rest of the night commenting and liking each other’s photos. These behaviors are a threat to our society because they take us away from deep thought and philosophy. As Albert Einstein said, “I fear the day that technology will surpass our human interaction. The world will have a generation of idiots.”
One cannot deny that technology is pervasive, nor can one deny that it had a negative effect on our memories. What makes people distinctive is their memories and thoughts. When our memories are not capable of remembering the past, we would no longer act as humans. Technology will control our actions, and we follow what all other human beings do.
With the rise of ephemeral social networks such as SnapChat, people are no longer forming any memories. They live the moment, and the next day they live the other day’s moment without remembering or reflecting on the past. For example, when I attended the New Year’s party in downtown Atlanta, I couldn’t but notice how everyone was using SnapChat. During the countdown, I looked at the sky anticipating fireworks and at that minutes all that I saw were screens running SnapChat. Why are people taking the New Year’s countdown on SnapChat? As soon as they release the record button, everything will be gone. If they did not take a video, it will live in their memories. If they took one using the phone’s camera, it will live in their smartphones. However, in SnapChat it does not live. It fades away.
The Need to Disconnect Arises
With negative effects on my attention, social skills, and memory, why in the world will I want to get a data plan? Later, I learned that SnapChat users had points. The more views their stories get, the more points they win. Having a stress-free brain is worth much more than the points or likes that I can get if I had a data plan.
Some people argue that I could get a data plan and only turn the Internet on when I want to. This can help me in situations where I need GPS. However, that does not bring the comfort that one gets from disconnecting. I would like to conclude with this amazing rap that sums up my argument.