I asked myself a rather philosophical and thought provoking question the other day. I guess you can say it was similar to the sorts of questions Aristotle dealt with back in the day.

I asked myself the following: if there was an avalanche, a tsunami and a tornado all happening at the same time and in the same place, would a potential victim move as quickly as the potential victim moves to answer his/her phone?

I mean you really have to laugh at how robotic we all are when it comes to our phones. You have to laugh, because otherwise you would cry.

I have seen people working and the moment their phone makes some obnoxious beep, boop, blop sound, they go rushing to answer it. I have been in the middle of conversations with people and the moment Rihanna begins screeching, there goes the life changing conversation that was previously taking place. I have been in classes with constant vibrates, lights flashing and annoying clicking sounds. I have been at events which apparently require people to Tweet, Facebook, and Instagram rather than take pleasure and listen to the speaker or enjoy the artwork. And for goodness sake I have been in bathrooms where people have been on the phone. Not only is that highly unsanitary, it is awfully bizarre on so many levels, but I think that requires a separate blog.
I am not pointing fingers, as I am equally to blame for this growing epidemic (just not the bathroom bit) taking over social norms and awareness. I sometimes feel as though I have an inner alarm clock and the moment the clock strikes the quarter hour, the checking, and the texting, and the clicking and clacking begin.

I think it is safe to say that we have more similar characteristics to mechanical objects than to living, breathing and thinking human beings. A bit extreme, I know, but there are days I just can’t help but think it.

Recently I have realized how many books I have marked as “Shabbat reading”, how many conversations I have cut short and how many hours of sleep I have lost. The reason for this lacking is obvious. It is because seeing some Facebook friend’s latest selfie is far more intellectually stimulating and exhilarating than reading a classical novel or listening in class. How can watching a movie, or properly listening to a friend, or engaging in an actual sit down meal take precedence over changing my profile picture and my cover photo 23 times a day. Each. And please, how can I go to an event without posting 36 photos of it on Instagram with the reoccurring duck face? Oh and god forbid should the photo not be splattered with hashtags such as #ftw #selfie #photooftheday #yolo. I hate to be blunt or put words into an inanimate word’s mouth (what a weird line), but I think if YOLO could speak it would not appreciate people using the word in relation to photos with loads of filters and kissy faces. Rather YOLO would say “put down the phone, put down the camera and go out and really act like you only live once.” These bizarre faces which cause people to look as though they have had a lip augmentation gone terribly wrong have taken the place of smiles. Hashtags have taken the place of grammatically correct sentences. Facebook profiles have take the place of personalities. Texting has taken the place of this crazy thing called verbal communication. Technology has replaced our brain! Cue the horror music.

I am no laptop burning technology hater. Technology has united the world, as well as created a progressive and advanced society. It truly is a wonderful thing. However, what I am against is the way people take advantage of it. I am against the standards of relationships decreasing. I am against people no longer seeing the world through a peripheral lens, but rather a one dimensional scope- their iPhone. I am against the way people channel their personalities on Facebook based on how many “likes” they think they will receive. I am against people no longer being able to accurately describe the human face anymore because it is constantly being covered by a little box. Ok, that may have been an exaggeration, but in fifty years from now, who knows.

Again, I am not pointing fingers as I also struggle with putting the ridiculous box of plastic and whatever the heck it is made out of down. When growing up in a world of increasing addiction it is difficult not to join the cult, but I am finding it is more difficult to say sayonara to the cult that has so quickly become a lifestyle.

In the wise words of the Twelve Step Program, “the first step is admitting that one cannot control one’s addictions or compulsions.” I think it is time for many of us to admit our defeat in the face of technology and begin to take the cliche line of “live your life” more seriously. Because if we think rationally for a moment, aren’t prosperous relationships, family dinners, stimulating events, eight hours of sleep, and delving into a Jane Austen novel far more invigorating than stalking someone else’s selfies?

About the Author
Lottie Kestenbaum was born to British parents and grew up in New Jersey. To add to the identity crisis, Lottie made aliyah in August 2012. Hello tri-citizenship! She is currently studying Jewish History and English Literature at Bar Ilan University. Lottie shares more of her aliyah adventures & ongoing thoughts on her blog, Newest Sabra on the Block.