OPINION: An open letter to phone overusers


Olive Lopez

Phone users caught on camera during break.

I was sitting in the library at lunch on a Tuesday. I had intended to do homework, so I zipped up my procrastination-inducing phone inside my backpack and started in. It was not long before I found myself distracted.

I was distracted by the girl sitting in front of me taking selfies. Trying to study, I was engrossed in a phone that wasn’t even my own.

The distraction continued: A boy walked by, staring down at the device held tightly in his hand. Across the library I saw another girl sitting on the floor, her phone propped up on her history reader.

“A phone can really take away from your work if it’s always in the back of your mind. I can’t even do my homework when I’m texting and using my phone. I have to turn it off or leave it upstairs, otherwise I can’t concentrate,” said Phoebe Yusim (‘16).

Confirming students’ main source of distraction, Urban history teacher Greg Monfils said, “You can’t use your cellphone in class; that would be wrong. There is no appropriate use of your cellphone in class that can’t be accomplished on your laptop.”

I glanced at my computer. 12:07 on a Tuesday meant time to head to class. And so it was at 12:07 on a Tuesday that I began my study. I kept eyes out everywhere for the little square shapes of cell phones.

Observation 1: If a phone is not in a hand, next check the pockets.

Observation 2: Guys prefer front pockets whereas girls prefer rear.

So there I was, walking to my C period, staring at countless guys’ crotches and many a girls’ butts.

As you can imagine, this is a risky thing to do, especially when your male teacher walks by. Nonetheless, curiosity was my drive. And sure enough, my study paid off. I’m not sure if I passed a single person whose phone I couldn’t locate. I started making it a practice. Every class, I walked with eyes waist level:

Square pocket. Square pocket. Hand. Square pocket. Backpack side pocket. Hand. Pocket. Pocket. Pocket. Hand. Hand. Pocket. Hand.

I watched as people left double periods to go to break, reached into their backpacks, and pulled it out, that captivating device. And those who didn’t, well you can probably guess, they already had square pockets. I go to breaks and see people sitting in groups, all huddled on their phones.

“I think in today’s culture; phones are people’s social lives. Most people really use phones to hang out with friends. It’s pretty sad, you don’t even have to be face to face,” said Nick Lacey (‘16).

Kenzo Weiss (‘17) commented, “It really takes away from personal connections because people are so obsessed with their phones.”

“It’s most noticeable when you’re in an awkward situation that people are drawn to their phones. No one wants to stare at someone or at the ground in silence, so they take out their phones and stare at the little bright screens instead. You don’t usually see someone sitting on a bench and just thinking nowadays,” said Yusim.

Trust me, I am guilty too. I use my phone a lot. And it’s also not news that our generation has become technology obsessed. I’m not asking you to stop using your phone, because that is unrealistic.

Lacey explained, “It’s more of a habit. Most kids our age would pull it out without thinking most of the time.”

“I’m constantly looking at it so I can’t really count the hours. It’s sort of natural to just bring up instagram and scroll through,” said Yusim.

I’m simply asking you to look around and notice. Every time I reach for my phone out of habit, I think, “Here I go, now I too am that phone in hand or that square pocket.” And while maybe it doesn’t keep me from using it completely, the fact that I am conscious of my choice to pull out my phone keeps me aware of how easy it is to use technology to pass the time.

Do the study. Walk through the hallways with your eyes waist level. If you look around and look for the hands and square pockets you too might share the hesitation to sit on your phone all break. To have your phone constantly on your desk. To be a phone in hand and phone in pocket, too.