Overcome your smartphone before it takes over your life

My best friend and his iPhone are lovers.

They exercise, listen to indie rock and cook dinner together.

They never fight.

As is the case with most young people and their smartphones, my best friend and his iPhone are inseparable. I can’t picture him without it.

I’m sick of it.

As a graduate student, I’m old enough to remember a simpler time when people would walk their trash to the dumpster without bringing along their cell phones. This was the same era when people would order pizza without the Internet, forego Facebook for half a day and know how to use a paper map.

Before the cancerous spread of the smartphone, I naively thought there might be a return to this pleasant time.

Boy, was I wrong.

I’m taking four classes this semester. In only one of those four do my classmates sit laptop, iPad and iPhone-free. In the other classes, my classmates text, type and Tweet to no end. Maybe they’re listening to the professors, but I certainly have a harder time doing so between their continual clicks and taps.

Am I the only one who finds this rude? Does eye contact mean nothing anymore? Have professors come to the conclusion that smart devices are an unavoidable, minute-by-minute aspect of life?

Classrooms aren’t the only locations in which young people seem to care-freely log onto the Internet. I see folks sitting in groups in restaurants, walking with friends and even playing recreational basketball while using smartphones. These sites make me cringe. What could possibly be so technologically urgent that it’s OK to ignore the people you’re with physically?

As an American who has spent most of her life in America, I believe the stereotype about Americans being impatient is more true than not. Most Americans want everything immediately, and smart devices let us have it. Companies like Apple aren’t making it any easier for us to grow up and learn to wait.

My best friend doesn’t believe he is impatient or discourteous when it comes to iPhone use. He uses it at work in a discrete manner, refuses to text while driving and self-educates regularly with instant Google access.

He believes he is a responsible smartphone user, and comparatively, he’s probably right.

Responsible users have power over their smartphones. They can turn smartphones off during movies, leave smartphones in the other room when showering and outsmart smartphones with shortcuts to favorite locales.

The sad truth is that smartphones aren’t going anywhere if my best friend or anyone else I know has anything to say about it. I guess I have to accept that. So, the question becomes: How can people stay smarter and more civilized than their smartphones?

Marisa is a graduate student in Media.