During 2008-2009 I was an exchange student at Puyallup High School, Washington. I was sixteen years old. It was my first time away from home. I loved it. My parents back home were generous enough to provide me with their credit card. Life was great. Until this one day would come up. Through email I would set up Skype meetings with my parents. I knew what they were going to say… As nearer the end of my stay approached, the longer the periods between those meetings have gotten. Literally, I spent too much money on unnecessary things. Hey, I was sixteen.
The cell phone that I owned at this point in time had simple domestic texting and calling features. It was rather complicated, in comparison to today, to get in touch with my family and friends back home. Of course, there was myspace.com, which neither my parents, nor my friends back home have ever heard of. The viable solution to my problem was a prepaid long-distance phone-card, email, and Skype. It was hard for my parents to get a hold of me. I was busy exploring the world.
Six years later. I get up in the morning. Look at my phone. There are 15 new Whatsapp messages. Barriers of over 5,000 miles or 9 hours time difference become insignificant. Communication around the globe is as easy as it has never been before. VOIP calls enable internet-connected phones theoretically to connect with any whom, anywhere, anytime, and at any place around the world almost instantaneously.
It is nice to know what is going on around the world in real time, how your family and friends are doing, or simply stream your soccer team on your phone. However, in how far have we become reliant on our cell-phone? How much time do we actually spend using it? Is it wasteful? For myself I can say that at some times I feel overwhelmed with the interaction on my cell-phone on top of the challenges of real everyday life. I can find myself being distracted by insignificant things, like someone’s lunch they posted on Facebook or the like. I think back to the times when I was totally focused on my 16 years old mind, without any such distractions. As I said, life was great. This might be partially due to the credit card, but I also enjoyed the freedom I had. Communication brings responsibility. With how many people are you trying to stay in touch with? In how far does this take time away from your experience in a new country? Which do you prioritize? I think one has to find a healthy mean between these two in order to evade the dependence on technology and feel free themselves.