Tech Now + Beyond

I’m exhausted by everything on my phone – but I can’t look away

Whether it’s the latest atrocity in the Middle East, another case of racial profiling, or your friend’s latest puppy purchase – it’s simply too much.

We are consumers, selfie-takers, and social media enthusiasts. Tech-savvy, politically-inclined, and independent, millennials are the most information-hungry generation to date. We are constantly bombarded by torrents of information, be it from our peers or an electronic screen.

A few weeks ago, my communications professor asked us to raise our hands if we owned a cell phone. All 82 students’ hands went up. 77 of those hands, it turned out, swiped right on iPhones. In a different class, my professor shared that students, on average, check their emails/texts/social media once every 5 to 10 minutes. Yeah. That’s an average of 12,400 times that you check for new content, per semester. An article I found earlier details a study done at Baylor University, in which college students were found to spend between 8-10 hours on their phones, with women spending more time than their male peers.

While these figures differ from person to person, the consensus is clear: we spend a lot of time on our phones, and we’re incredibly media-savvy. We’re skimming breaking news on our Twitter feeds, while plugged into the latest episode of our favorite podcast.

And yet a problem plagues almost every individual – a feeling of blasé.

Here’s what the dictionary says: Blasé is indifference or boredom with life as a result of “excess worldly pleasures.” Blasé conveys a feeling of “world-weariness.” Blasé is being unmoved because you’ve seen it all before.

It almost seems contradictory for a millennial – a seemingly bright, active, vivacious, forward-thinking, literate individual – to experience this feeling. And yet somehow, you and I both know it so well.

In a way, it makes perfect sense. Millennials are “over-fed” information, causing us to gorge, gorge, gorge until it becomes too much. No matter what it is – the latest atrocity in the Middle East, another case of racial profiling, or your friend’s latest puppy purchase – it simply becomes too much.

Considering the number of times I check my phone during the day, I can only imagine the amount of sheer stuff that goes into my brain on a daily basis. This excess of information prohibits our ability to fully grasp what’s going on. All the inflammatory language used to pique our attention gives the impression that everything is loud! and scary! and terrible!

As such, we lose interest in world affairs and become increasingly weary of it.

It seems that the only way to alleviate this feeling is to make sure that one isn’t in a constant state of being “plugged in.” After every article you read, take a minute to really think about it.

Let yourself feel something. Get inspired. Get angry!

Formulate your opinion and spread the world. If you don’t make the effort to engage with the information you’re fed, you run the risk of experiencing blasé.

Now it’s my turn to sign back into Facebook and scroll through the latest headlines. But not, of course, before taking a minute to digest them.

By Asma Elgamal

Asma Elgamal is our Head News + Society Editor at The Tempest. She's currently a student at Harvard University.

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