No phone? Welcome back to real life!

Following on from Hannah’s post (read here) regarding involuntarily taking three weeks away from social media, I thought I’d post about a similar situation that happened to me over the last few weeks. My iPhone has well and truly gone to phone heaven at this stage but I’m not so sure if all of my 3,000 photos/videos have gone with it! Hence why I am still holding out hope that my iCloud will be restored in the coming weeks. I received that same lovely message as Hannah,

“To verify your iCloud account, a code has been sent to your device ending in *********41.”

The only problem is that both my Irish and French numbers end in 41. It turns out my phone is backed up to my French number which no longer exists. Therefore, I now patiently wait for the next couple of weeks to see can all be restored.

In the meantime, these are the following five things that I noticed whilst I was phoneless.

  1. Everyone is addicted to their phones

It’s not just me who has this habit. Sometimes I feel rather depressed when I think about all the time I’ve wasted just doing nothing and scrolling through Instagram, Twitter or whatever. But everyone around me appears to be addicted to looking at their phone screens too. Addicted to looking and scrolling through nothingness essentially.

  1. Our need to share everything online

This became even more apparent on special occasions like Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day. If someone needs to share every aspect of their happy relationship online, how happy or secure are they really in that relationship? Also, it now seems that we all feel obliged to post something online on Mother’s Day.

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We all continue to portray an image online of how we would like the outside world to view us and our own lives. When you’re off social media, you start to genuinely not care about these things. You’re spending all your time and energy with the people you care about or doing the things you care about to even be bothered about checking back in with the online world.

  1. Our need to have a phone when we’re out for food

This is a habit that’s always annoyed me even before I went phoneless for a couple of weeks. Sitting with someone who is on their phone and not listening to a word you’re saying is hardly the height of craic. What is the point in going for lunch if you’re not even going to bother fully immersing yourself in a conversation with the people you’re with? I find it hard to adapt back to our lunchtime habits after living in France where lunchtime lasts up to two hours. You chat and eat over the two hour period. That’s the whole point of it (This is also most likely why I now appear to be the slowest eater when I’m out with friends!). Anyway, the point I’m making is, if the French can talk over two hours of lunch and digest their food at a much slower pace, then why do many of us feel the need to have our phones out while we eat our food in basically 20 minutes or less?

  1. I felt less stressed away from it

You don’t quite realise the anxiety that comes with the constant feeling of needing to keep up all the time until you’re away from it all and phoneless. Perhaps not everyone feels that way but I’m sure I’m not the only one. Chances are that whilst you haven’t heard or seen a story on social media first like everyone else, you can be sure that people are going to tell you about it regardless. Whilst you feel like you might be missing out on something, you’re actually not. You’re just discovering or being told about some important viral videos a couple of hours or days after everyone else (sarcasm intended!).

  1. We can’t flake on people as easily

Finally, just like Hannah, I didn’t miss social media as much as I thought I would. In fact, when I went back to Toulouse for a couple of days to visit friends, I particularly noticed this. I have not one single photo from the few days away (very uncharacteristic of me!). Also, I winged it every day by messaging everyone in the morning from my friend’s house and telling them my plans for the day. Then I would just turn up at the bar or wherever and hope for the best that they would turn up at the time I’d said earlier on in the day. I was phoneless so if they didn’t turn up then I couldn’t tell if they were just late or weren’t coming at all! You feel more of an obligation to meet people at the time you’d previously specified because you have no way of simply messaging them a few minutes before meeting up to cancel on them. I think that’s a positive, don’t you?

 

Louise Harvey is studying for an MSc in Communications, Advertising and Public Relations at Ulster University. She can be found on Twitter: @louiseharvey_ // LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/harveylouise/ 

Pros and cons of smartphones and how our generation use them:

Today’s society is hugely influenced by the use of smartphones. This is from everyday life, with how we interact with friends and family on a personal level, to how businesses and politicians send out messages and updates to their customers and followers through social media posts. This is clear today with US President Donal Trumps twitter posts often being a hot topic of conversation amongst many.

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There are without doubts many positives through the use of smartphones. These are clear to see as everywhere you look there is always a number of people engulfed in their phones, and it’s not just the younger generation, it is now throughout all age groups, from younger siblings to parents and now even grandparents. I am going to take a look at the pros and cons, in relation to how my age group use smartphones.

First of all, the pros of smartphones, which you could argue is a never ending list of positives:

· The ability to connect with friends from all over the world. Whether it is a cousin in Australia or a friend in America, we can be face to face with them any time through the use of Facetime. We always stay in communication with these people through Facebook and Snapchat, making it a lot easier to keep relationships strong even though we may be thousands of miles apart.

· The use of a smart phone is something a lot of people could not do without. Friendship groups in today’s society resolve around a Whatsapp group. Everyday plans are made in these groups, and it is definitely the easiest way to stay in touch. All football teams or class group projects will often have a whatsapp group to send messages and updates.

· Another pro would be how you can keep all of your friends up to date on what you are doing with your life. Although some of your facebook friends mightn’t care if you climbed Slieve Donard at the weekend, it is still nice to be able to post this.

· The convenience would be a massive pro for me with a smartphone. Emails, online banking, google maps etc are just an example of some of the apps which make our lives a lot more simple. There is no need for sat navs or trips to the bank as all can be done through our smart phones.

There are without doubt many more pros, but I don’t want to turn this in to an essay.

Now for the cons:

I feel there are many cons within our age group from 16-35 of smartphones.

· They are incredibly addictive. Personally I am as bad as anyone. Throughout this post I have constantly been on my phone, on WhatsApp, Snapchat and Facebook just refreshing pages and reading posts which have no impact on my life. Also, this highlights how much of a distraction they are. Everything you do is interrupted by a notification on your phone. It is very hard to go a few hours without checking your phone.

· You hear people say phones have “ruined the art of conversation”. This amongst friendship groups my age is true. There could be 7 of us in a bar drinking pints, and at all times there are probably 4/5 people on their phones. Everything is put on Snapchat or Facebook and at times it becomes sickening. You could be going through Snapchat stories and see more or less the same thing on 4 different stories of the same 5 people.

· Another con would be that people can portray themselves as something they are not. We all have friends on Facebook or Instagram and they have a totally different way of going on online. So in a sense they’re people who can hide behind a smartphone and be seen as someone they are not. These apps can be seen as a way of convincing people your life is brilliant, and constantly look happy in all your posts and can disguise true emotions very well.

To listen to my list of cons you would swear I don’t do these things mentioned above, although I wouldn’t be as extreme as some people I still do this to an extent. To say I could do without a smart phone would be a lie. I am as reliant on it as the majority. But at times I can’t help but think it would be great if no one had them.CL1

 

Colum Loughran is a final year BSc in Public Relations student at Ulster University. He can be found on Twitter: @ColumLoughran

A 14 Year Old and a GoPro Walk into a Field…

My cousin Katie came home from her first day of secondary school gushing to tell me all about her classes and the people she met. She was decorating her diary, filling in her timetable and telling me all about the day’s events. I flipped through the pages of her diary and was horrified to find a page called ‘Snapchats’ with everything from EllieXoX to Hollie123 (I could tell you about the day she lost her phone and gone were the hard-earned 237 day streaks, but that’s another story in itself.)

What ever happened to the good ol’ days of giving out home phone numbers? Gone now are the glory days of your mum shouting at you to get off the house phone because Nanny’s probably been trying to get through for the past 3 hours. To this day I’m still annoyed I couldn’t three-way call like Lizzie, Miranda and Gordo.

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I’m not claiming that I don’t use Snapchat or any other forms of social media to keep in touch with my friends, I love aimlessly flicking through Facebook looking at memes and cat videos as much as the next person, I’m just sad to see so many young teenagers glued to their smart phones.

However, every once in a while we meet someone, an absolute anomaly, who isn’t obsessed with uploading their next Instagram post at prime time or with the latest iPhone that’s going to smash sooner than the last one (and I’m not talking about your dad that still has a Nokia 3310). Enter Katie’s older brother, James. His interest: farming and absolutely nothing else; whilst most teenagers would come home and go on Facebook, James got straight into his overalls and headed to our Granda’s farm, when other teens were getting play stations and footballs for Christmas, James was getting tractor simulators and new work coats for the farm. But alas, nothing lasts forever.

As James got older he became glued to his dad’s iPad watching YouTube videos by farmers called the Grassmen, a group of men who decided to experiment with cameras in their tractors and fields and soon developed a mass following with some videos gaining almost 5 million views. James watched all their videos and couldn’t wait to tell me when he met Donkey at The Balmarol Show. Naturally I assumed he meant the character from Shrek; I soon learned that Donkey was one of these Grassmen and a major influence on James.

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My interest was piqued when James’ parents asked if they could buy GoPro accessories for James from my Amazon account for Christmas. James? A GoPro? He’s not travelling to Thailand this summer to find himself, why does he have a GoPro? When I thought about it I didn’t know many people who owned a GoPro, never mind any 14 year olds. I was on placement in London at the time and soon forgot about it until one day my mum sent me a YouTube link with the message: “Watch this”, and five minutes later: “Did you watch it yet?” James had uploaded his first video – my reaction: instant fan-girl.

Being from the country I’ve seen plenty of tractors driving around and, as many of you probably know, it’s really not that exciting. With a variety of editing and the addition of music James managed to make something that people would generally find quite boring really fun to watch. The video currently has 364 views (of which I think 64 are mine). I remember showing my co-workers the next morning with pride written all over my face, their expressions were mere confusion as many of them most likely hadn’t seen a tractor in central London nor knew anyone that drove them. I’ll let you decide for yourselves but I’m sure you’ll agree the results are amazing, especially for a 14 year old that wouldn’t have touched an iPhone just a few years ago.

It turns out James wasn’t just producing short videos but was also uploading images to an Instagram account of the tractors and the fields. We still joke about him lying down in the grass to get the perfect shot, but the truth is the pictures are amazing:

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Some people are paid thousands to make content for social media and here was my cousin spending his time doing it for free all because he loved farming. So, as much as we want to roll our eyes and moan about “kids these days” with all their gadgets, at the end of the day they’re allowing teenagers to be creative in ways we never would have dreamed of just a couple of years ago. It also goes to show that social media isn’t just for the travel and beauty bloggers, farmers are even starting to get a piece of the action!

Roisin Watters is a final year BSc Communication, Advertising and Marketing student at Ulster University. She can be contacted at: https://www.linkedin.com/in/roisin-watters-661a03a6/, and on Twitter @Roisin_Watters

Three weeks of social media rehab

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We’ve all been there. That gut wrenching, heart pounding moment you realise you can’t find your phone. You frantically pat your body up and down, hoping, praying that it’s lodged deep within your pocket. Know what I’m talking about? Not nice, is it?

Anyone who knows me knows that I love social media. I struggle to go a day without uploading a Snapchat story and often am guilty of uploading more than one Instagram in a single day. I know; social suicide! My social media addiction often acts as a great source of entertainment for my friends. “Oh, there she is! Social media queen! Make sure to get a Snapchat of that, Hannah!” … the jibes are endless but (as us Northern Irish like to say), completely ‘fair enough’.

So, when the battery in my two-year-old iPhone 6 decided to completely cut out during a celebratory post three assignment deadline trip to Dublin, I was phoneless. You can imagine my despair. I hadn’t lost my phone, but holding it in my hand while it refused to turn on, smugly replaying the apple restart logo with the somewhat aggressive “CHARGE YOUR PHONE” symbol constantly appearing on the screen, almost made me wish I did. I wanted to throw it out of the car onto the M50. A weekend exploring a perfectly decorated Grafton Street at Christmas, walks along Malahide’s beautiful coastal path, copious portions of poached eggs and smoked salmon for brunch, pints of Guinness in Gibneys and all without a single Snapchat, Instagram or Facebook post. In fact, I was so quiet on social media that my friends actually started to express genuine concern for my wellbeing. A digital silence? Nope. Not for me.

Once back in Belfast, I was on a mission. An urgent visit to Three and I had managed to bag myself a new phone. I took my brand-new rose gold iPhone SE home and eagerly awaited my social media fix… Until…

“To verify your iCloud account, a code has been sent to your device ending in *********06.”

Sorry… what? My number ends in 54, not 06! Great.

To save explaining every boring, intrinsic technicality, I’ll just cut to the chase; I was locked out of my iCloud (and subsequently all apps on my new phone) for a grand total of THREE WEEKS as the wrong number had been verified to my account. That’s right. Me; girl who can’t leave her phone alone for three minutes has 0 access to anything other than texts and calls for three weeks.

So, what did I learn?

  1. The gym is a terrible place to be when you’re phoneless.

 I never realised how much I rely on music to keep me motivated during a session in the gym or how loudly I stamp on the treadmill when I run and… let’s not even talk about the heavy breathing. Sorry fellow gym members.

  1. The memories you gain from real life experiences are long-lasting, even when they aren’t documented on social media.

 Don’t get me wrong, I think social media is an excellent way to capture and record memories and I will continue to do so. I now know, however, that I don’t have to photograph or record everything – something I’m sure my friends will be pleased to hear!

  1. I could focus on my work more

Whilst I might enjoy receiving Snapchats of my housemates attempting to sing or of them scaring each other in our flat while I’m in the library (sometimes a little too much when I struggle to hold back uncontrollable laughter in the McClay), I did find it much easier to concentrate on assignments without my phone.

  1. I could focus more in real life

 Without the subconscious distractions generated by nonstop notifications, I was more engaged in day to day life. I wouldn’t zone out of a conversation because a message came through to my phone and I would take in my surroundings when walking from A to B. It sounds silly to say but I started to look up and around me, rather than down at the HD screen in my hands.

  1. I was far more sociable

I managed to have better conversations, with the people that mattered to me. Not over text, not on Facebook, Snapchat or WhatsApp, in person.

  1. I didn’t miss social media as much as I thought I would

If I was told three weeks ago that I wouldn’t be allowed access to my social media accounts for this length of time, I would not have been happy. Social media has become an integral part of our lives and I couldn’t possibly entertain the idea of being off it for so long. But did I really miss it that much? Honestly… no. I enjoyed the  much needed detox!

Recent research published in The Times claims that social media is bad for your mental health. Academic studies continuously suggest that intense use of social media is linked to depression, low self-esteem and feelings of depression.

Maybe a break from it every once in a while would be of benefit to us all?

Now I’m not going to start anti-social media protests outside the City Hall, nor am I going to deactivate my accounts, in fact I’ll probably be back to annoying my friends very shortly, but now, at least I know the positive benefits and the headspace going digitally teetotal can bring about.

 

Hannah Martin is a final year Bsc student in Communication, Advertising and Marketing at Ulster University. She can be found on Twitter @HannahMartin596, and Linkedin https://www.linkedin.com/in/hannah-martin-b31334112/