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Turn off phone, talk to a human

few days ago, I was driving on University Avenue in front of the Gertrude Ford Center for the Performing Arts trying to get to the bypass. My timing was bad, as classes were changing for students attending the University of Mississippi, and I had to sit and wait as students hurriedly made their way to their next class.

As I waited, I watched countless students walk by on the crosswalk in front of me. I noticed most of the students weren’t even looking up, but instead were checking their phones. Some almost ran into each other on the crosswalk because they were too busy texting or checking their social media accounts.

I have to admit that some aspects of social media have made our daily lives easier, such as communicating with our children. On the other hand, it has been a detriment to our younger society, as actual verbal communication has become a lost art.

I’m not on Facebook, or so many of the other popular sites, but I admit that I do text often. Honestly, it is much easier to text sometimes than to pick up the phone and talk. I remember how difficult it was to teach my own mom and dad how to dial on the first cellphones.

I’m old enough to remember the old bag phones, and then the evolution of the flip phones. I loved my Blackberry and hated seeing it fall in the toilet one day while I was in a hurry.

Having two older teenagers, I know the ridiculous amount of time they spend on their phones. I’m not talking about having a conversation, but just texting or looking at Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or Snapchat. Rarely do our children pick up the phone and have a conversation with one of their friends.

Kids today post everything on social media, even their parties. Many a teenager has been in a photo that was posted on social media, showing them somewhere they weren’t supposed to be, and gotten in trouble. Nothing is sacred regarding items posted on social media.

Go to any restaurant around town and watch how many people are constantly on their phones, instead of communicating with the people sitting directly across from them. We are too busy trying to see the latest post or picture instead of enjoying our lives.

Some interesting numbers that back up how much social media has grown include:

• Snapchat now has more than 100 million daily active users.

• Instagram has more than 300 million daily users with over 80 million pictures posted daily.

• Facebook has more than 1.49 billion active users.

• Twitter now has over 304 million active users.

We all realize technology will continue to change our lives, as new apps for phones are being created daily. I personally plan on taking a break from my phone more often than I have in the past. I always secure my cellphone in my pocket while driving to avoid being distracted by my phone.

I remember reading this quote from Phil Robertson, the original creator of the Duck Commander hunting brand. Robertson said, “I’ve never owned a cellphone and don’t plan on ever having one. If anyone needs to talk to me, they know where I live.”

Maybe we all need to take this approach and enjoy God’s wonder and beauty.

Tim Phillips is publisher of the Oxford EAGLE. Contact him at tim.phillips@oxfordeagle.com.