Signing off



My first column preached the benefits of putting down electronics. My final column will serve as a stark reminder of what happens when you don’t.

It’s not news that Wi-Fi dependency is taking over our lives. We’ve been hearing for years that sitting is worse than smoking, staring closely at our computer screens is the reason for that blurry vision and the radio frequency energy emitting from our cell phones could be causing cancer.

But there’s also the demise of our mental health. The development of anxiety and depression linked to FOMO (the fear of missing out). The dazed feeling when you’ve scrolled so far down the Instagram feed that you forget what day it is or what task you were doing.

But knowing all of this, we still need our phones. They’ve become our maps, our alarm clocks and our lifelines.

After eight years of owning a cell phone, I’ve developed a bad habit of checking all of my social media accounts before I get out of bed each morning. I have constant sore, aching thumbs from scrolling through my Twitter feed, and I can’t get through a basic task without hearing phantom notifications.

I long for a life where I don’t have to worry about replying to emails at all hours of the night, or feel the urge to photograph every mundane thing I do. But that life stopped existing a long time ago — at least for anyone who wants a regular job. Technology is tightly woven into everything we do. Society has made it clear that there is no place in it for those who aren’t willing to trade in their mental health for 32GB of space on an iPhone.

Until I manage to escape technology altogether and move to a beet farm a la The Office’s Dwight Schrute, I’ll keep creating rules for myself— like no laptops in bed or no Instagram posts while on vacation. I’ll turn off all notifications and minimize my phone space. I will massage my thumbs when they’re sore from texting, and I will get a stronger prescription for my glasses.

But in the back of my mind, I will be aware that unless bigger changes are made, we will continue to wreck ourselves with anxiety, depression and obsessive disorders. Technology will continue to cause lower and lower attention spans, and soon pieces as long as this column will be obsolete. I challenge you all to take a look at your own mental health and decide if you have a healthy relationship with technology or not. And if not, fix it, because we’ve all seen futuristic movies of robots and gadgets ruling humans, but all of a sudden it seems like that future is now.

Riley Chervinski is a journalism student, soccer player and reader of cringe-worthy chick-lit. You can usually find her scrolling through Tumblr, scoping out recipe blogs or laughing at her own jokes @rileychervinski.