There’s an app for that


By Kaanan Raja

Walking through the Quad is incredibly difficult to do when you have to navigate through masses of people who won’t look up from their smartphones. Don’t get me wrong, I’m pretty agile and not too short, but every once in a while, I bump into someone whose face seems glued to a bright and sleek iPhone.

It seems that people are becoming so dependent on phones that they miss large moments in their everyday lives. 

More specifically, our increased reliance on some of our phone apps for instant gratification is negatively impacting the way we learn and think for ourselves. The term “there’s an app for that” is so common that it seems people genuinely believe that they can use their smartphone to solve every minor problem rather than thinking it out for themselves. 

Like other students, I have become mesmerized by the glaring white little screen that’s always by my side. I spend more time on phone apps than I’d care to admit. 

Take my iTranslate app, for example. As a girl with absolutely zero talent for learning other languages, this app allowed me to move past at least the first question of my Spanish homework. 

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However, the more and more I used it, the more and more I realized how in trouble I was for upcoming tests — simply looking up word translations on this app didn’t teach me how to conjugate the verbs or where to add accents. 

It simply gave me a quick and easy answer to my short-term problem.

While some apps are actually useful, such as iTranslate, they can also prohibit us from actually learning how the world around us works. 

Take, for instance, the bus app CU Bus Guide. As a freshman, this bus app has been a lifesaver. I cannot count on both hands how many times I would’ve ended up at Illinois Terminal or Parkland College when I’d actually meant to go to my 11 a.m. psychology class if it wasn’t for this quick and handy app.

What I’ve found, actually, is that even though I now end up at the right place at the right time, I don’t actually know how to get there. 

I counted on the CU Bus Guide app to be right this whole time, so I didn’t even think about the route I was taking. When my phone had low battery and shut off on me, it seemed almost impossible to get to my classes that I had already been going to for a while. 

I wasn’t able to navigate walking to class by myself even though I’ve been in school for over a month — I’ve become too reliant on the app itself.  

Therefore, while apps such as CU Bus Guide are helpful, they prevent us from being able to complete certain tasks on our own. Instead, we use the apps as crutches rather than tools for learning. 

And once these crutches are taken away, we’re left wobbling.

In an era where the world is at our fingertips, we want to find a quick fix to everything and we use apps to help us get there.

We live in a world of short attention spans — we want our content to say it quick and say it well. But this is detrimental in the long run because we are not taking the time to learn how to do things without depending on an outside source.

Complex processes like learning a language or navigating your way through a large campus are now being pushed to the side as new apps quickly give us the answers we need.

Instead, let’s start looking up from the sleek and shiny robots we’ve enslaved ourselves to. 

There are so many simple pleasures we miss when we are constantly depending on the apps on our phones. We miss seeing the pink paper flyers advertising interesting campus clubs, we miss seeing the quirky people that we could have shared a conversation with, we miss the way the sun looks when it hits Foellinger Auditorium, and sometimes we even miss the small freshman girl on the Quad simply trying to get to class and instead run into her.

Kaanan is a freshman in LAS. She can be reached at [email protected].