Interact with people, not your cellphone, computer

By Elsa Schmitz, Opinion Editor

Whenever I find myself waiting for someone to join me for coffee, for an appointment in an aseptically clean doctor’s office or actively trying to avoid listening to my professors’ lectures, I turn to my handy-dandy smartphone.

It’s got all my necessary apps, such as Facebook and Reddit Is Fun, that help me pass time and avoid making awkward chitchat with the person sitting next to me —who, most of the time, is also on their mobile device.

The prevalence of these situations got me thinking, is our generation training to become the most anti-social one yet?

The answer isn’t so clearly determined.

Whenever I think of anti-social behaviors, I think of factors that cause that behavior. Personally, I begin to feel anti-social when I’m particularly anxious or worried about something. This was becoming such a problem for me that I went to see my doctor, to discuss treatment.

She prescribed me a common antidepressant, which is also used to treat many other illnesses, including anxiety. In fact, this, and many other medications, are becoming increasingly common, and have risen almost 400 percent since 1988, according to a news report from TIME magazine.

400 percent is a lot of people taking antidepressant medications. While this does not necessarily denote anti-social behavior as a causation for the rise in these prescriptions, there appears to be a definite correlation.

Another correlation is the steady increase of technological advances, and the rise of the powerhouses of social media.

Facebook and SnapChat definitely have taken my time away from the people I am surrounded with. Rather than hold a conversation for hours at a time, as I have done in the past, I find myself pausing to check a status update or a new snap that a friend has posted.

There’s even an app that helps you actively avoid other people. It’s called “Hell Is Other People,” and the app creates optimal areas that are far enough away from your friends that you don’t have to be worried about running into them.

This kind of development makes me sad. I want to be able to interact with the people I am with, at this moment in time. I encourage everyone, and myself, to put down the phone and take a moment to talk to a stranger today.

It could even be about that sweet video you saw someone post on Facebook earlier. At least that’s a start.