Caught in a notification storm

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Caught in a notification storm

By Lindsey Ramsdell, Editor-in-Chief

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My brain is being rewired.

Buzz, ping, swoosh, tweet.

As soon as I hear the sound or feel the vibrate of an incoming message, my hand instinctively reaches for my phone, no matter the setting. I see red badges floating over apps with numbers higher than 10, and I feel compelled to clear those notifications. But with six different group texts for classes, teams and clubs; four apps for messaging/group organization; three email accounts; calendars set to remind me before events; and four social media apps, can you really blame me?

There’s a lot of frustration, especially from the older generations, concerning teens’ use of  their cell phones. My grandparents attribute my compulsion to check my phone to teenage self-obsession. There’s certainly appropriate times and places for smartphones. Obviously, during class and social engagements is not the place to connect to wifi and disconnect from reality. But, we fail to recognize how the technological revolution has subconsciously altered our habits. Our shortening attention spans and “phone addictions” are not just the fault of teenage vanity. Software progress and the changes in the way society communicates as a whole have reprogrammed our minds.

Everything is going digital. Almost all of my classes have ways to submit assignments online. These online classrooms have become so advanced that they notify and email me when an assignment is posted or due. Both clubs and classes require all their members to join a remind list that sends them texts with updates. Sometimes, these updates are simply reminders that tell me to check my online classroom for a new post. For large projects, I’m in group texts with over 30 people in them. If I step away from my device for just half an hour, I can come back with hundreds of unread messages. We are doubling down on the number of notifications and reminders needed to complete a task. At this rate, I might as well hire a secretary for my phone.

But, there’s a reason that this is happening. As smartphones become an even more vital device in daily life, we are becoming so accustomed to this way of communication. Texts, tweets, emails, direct messages. These are the preferred methods of communication. So, it only makes sense that the way we interact with each other in other teams goes digital too.

But even more importantly, we are getting busier. Teenagers in America are by no means lazy. The pressure and competitivity of being a student, requires kids to stack up on heavy course loads, clubs, sports and other extracurriculars. The more booked your schedule is, the harder it is to keep track of all these activities.

So, in keeping with the times, software has stepped up to help us organize our lives. We rely on these notifications so heavily, that when we hear one come in, checking our phones has become instinct.

The truth is, if I don’t monitor my notifications carefully and periodically, I might miss that assignment I’m supposed to submit tonight, or that meeting tomorrow morning, or that shift I was supposed to work this weekend. So, I’m sorry if I occasionally have to excuse myself from the moment and check my phone. Better to be absent for just a minute now, than an entire event in the future.

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