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The North Wind

The North Wind

The North Wind

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Lily Gouin
Lily Gouin
Assistant Sports Editor

Hi! My name is Lily Gouin I am in my third year here at NMU. I am from Appleton, WI majoring in communications and double minoring in multimedia journalism and public relations. In my free time, I like...

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The North Wind is an independent student publication serving the Northern Michigan University community. It is partially funded by the Student Activity Fee. The North Wind digital paper is published daily during the fall and winter semesters except on university holidays and during exam weeks. The North Wind Board of Directors is composed of representatives of the student body, faculty, administration and area media.

Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Dallas WiertellaApril 30, 2024

Smartphones dull experience of living

For about two months, I feel like I’ve been living Aldous Huxley’s worst nightmare.

Or perhaps my new reality is living proof that his brainchild — a society of people numbed by instant gratification and technology — is, in fact, becoming our new reality.

Either way, I got a smartphone for Christmas, and this five-by-two-inch piece of technological artistry has since caused great havoc in my life.

If you’re not familiar with Aldous Huxley or haven’t read “Brave New World” since an English teacher forced it upon your unexpecting and easily-confused ninth-grade soul, let me give you a quick recap: Huxley felt that our society would eventually amuse themselves to the point of no return. He thought our burgeoning desires would wreck us.

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He feared a society that was passive, obedient and unknowingly oppressed under the veil of pleasure and “happiness.”

We, members of American society, must now look no further than television or that little tablet constantly in our grip to see that Huxley’s nightmare for humanity has become a reality for nearly all of us.

We live in a culture of relentless entertainment, of Instagram, Honey Boo Boo and whatever the guys over at MTV come up with when they’re stoned.

We are stimulated by advertisements, fueled by capitalistic desires and motivated by whatever can give us instantaneous pleasure — whether it’s a Big Mac, new boots or the ability to Google search any question, problem or suggested YouTube video that comes up in our everyday lives.

But in all of this assumedly instantaneous happiness that we’ve bestowed upon ourselves, it seems that we’ve lost our ability to be engaged, to be conversational and most of all, to be curious.

“But it’s a smartphone. What could possibly be wrong with that?” you ask.

And I’ll tell you: I don’t entirely understand where these feelings of despair are coming from.

After all, I can drop the thing from a second story window and still call my grandma who lives 1,700 miles away when I find it.

I can completely submerge it in water — or snow, as I’ve already done more times than I can count — without ruining my day with a waterlogged battery.

It tells me when there’s going to be a meteor shower, a full moon, moderate snowfall or negative wind chills.

I can take pictures of whatever happens in my generally anticlimactic life and show about 700 people in seconds.

And, if I do everything right, it usually wakes me up in time for my 9 a.m. class. So what’s the issue here?

Perhaps the issue lies in the fact that no matter where I go — whether I’m walking to class, getting coffee or eating dinner with friends — I see faces staring blankly at a screen of white light.

It’s simple enough — when we begin to feel uncomfortable in a situation, it easy to resolve the problem by running to a cell phone for cover. I can’t say I’m not guilty of it, and it’s an easy habit to fall into.

Falling into that habit was especially easy before this smartphone frustration, which has only recently set in for me. For a month or so, I, too, lived in a blissful app-filled Android existence. I understand what it’s like to be embraced by the entertaining comfort of a super smartphone.

But then, I realized: is this how I want to experience the world?

From behind the shield of a seemingly perfect distraction from life, the world and interactions with others? That’s what it comes down to, after all. We’re a species that thrives on distraction, and that phone in all of our respective pockets provides that distraction whenever we want it to.

The problem here really lies in what is being missed when we become obsessed with technology. We’re living in the backlit world of our phones rather than in the moment.

When we can become more aware of the lost opportunities that occur by being constantly distracted by technology, the sooner we can begin to embrace the experiences and interactions that truly make us human.

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