My dad carried it as he strolled into my high school gym.
It was basketball season. 1987 perhaps. I watched him and wondered, what was in the briefcase?
It turns out he had a portable phone. We couldn't take our eyes off of it.
Who had heard of such a thing? A phone that was not on the wall? The insanity!
My dad said he acquired the first-generation clunker to leave the hospital even though he was on call. A miracle indeed!
Chris reminded me that I brought a phone to our first date.
He said I plopped my Nokia flip phone down on the table at Rossi's. I'm not proud of that.
But, I was very proud of her.
Do you remember when you saw your first cell phone?
Chris had a Palm Pilot, then a Blackberry. I thought they both looked like calculators strapped to people's belts.
Did we see this coming?
Did we imagine that life, untethered from our kitchen wall, would be like this?
We were once in awe of the cell phone and of the freedom it brought. Back then, we weren't married to social media. We didn't know, half the time, where our phones even were.
Now? Those same phones have unwittingly become a conduit to an online social media community that's left a majority of us over-wired and under-connected. What started as a superb option for humankind to use, now uses us.
According to Pew Research, 95% of teens and 85% of adults have access to a smartphone.
Teens are online, according to Common Sense Media, nine hours daily.
In 2018, Pew Research found that 45% of teens admitted to being online “constantly.”
I'm not sure, based on my weekly screen time statistics, that I'm far behind.
According to Pew Research, in 2021 the majority of American's use YouTube and Facebook.
Under 30? They use Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok.
Who doesn't love a laugh mid-day because someone sent you a hilarious meme or a funny YouTube video? Who doesn't crack up when your kid sends you a hysterical TikTok that may or may not resemble your parenting style?
How is unfettered access to social media affecting our minds?
AddictionCenter.com reports that in a new study by Harvard, self-disclosure on social networking sites lights up the same part of the brain that ignites when taking an addictive substance.
When we use social media, we're employing addictive behavior.
The likes, comments, scrolls, swipes and streaks - it's like we have a slot machine in our hands.
We want to quit looking, but we can't. Also, that cute pair of boots are in my feed, again. I should go ahead and buy them, right? Who's with me?
Wasn't it the apostle Paul in the book of Romans who said, I do what I don't want to? And what I want to do, I don't?
How does this affect young adults?
*In Preventive Medicine by Jean Twenge, a professor of Psychology at San Diego State, it's reported that there is a clear association between screen time and lower well-being in teens.
*According to a 2017 study by Pew Research, 8-12th-grade girls saw a 33% increase in depressive symptoms between 2010 and 2015. Suicide for girls in that age range grew by 65%.
*Jonathon Haidt, Ph.d., an American Social Psychologist, appeared in The Social Dilemma documentary. Dr. Haidt said there's a gigantic increase in depression and anxiety for American teenagers, which began around 2011 and 2013. The number of teenage girls per 100,000 in this country who are admitted to a hospital every year because they cut themselves was pretty stable until 2011. And then it began going way up. There was a 62% increase over previous years for older teen girls and a 189% increase for preteen girls, according to Haidt.
*According to mindbodygreen.com, excessive social media use is linked to couples fighting more.
We are all affected.
How will we break social media's spell?
Put your phone down.
Clear your mind.
I have an idea.
Before I say this, please understand, I'm not suggesting we chuck our phones on the way to Thanksgiving dinner at Nana Jim's.
But, could we take a social media holiday together?
Could we examine what's using many of us?
What's helpful? What's destructive?
Could we set personal limits and help our kids set theirs?
Could we unite on this?
Do you remember what life was like before we had computers in our hands and an online universe at our fingertips?
We were free. And it felt good.
It might be time to go there again.
Amie Beth Shaver is a speaker, writer, and media commentator. Her column appears every Wednesday in 1819 News. Shaver served on the Alabama GOP State Executive Committee, was a candidate for State House 43 and spokeswoman for Allied Women. The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of 1819 News. To comment, please send an email with your name and contact information to Commentary@1819News.com