More to the world than a screen

Published 5:11 pm Saturday, April 12, 2014

As I sat in the Orpheum Theatre in Minneapolis Sunday night, something seemed off. When I looked around the audience, it was pitch black; there were no screens glowing in the distance nor a nearby person scrolling through their newsfeed or checking their Instagram. Everyone’s undivided attention was fixed upon the stage, and it was beautiful.

It’s not too often anymore that a person will go two and a half hours without checking their phone. That much was evident before the show, while my mom and I were waiting in the crowded lobby for my dad to return. Everywhere you looked, people stood against the wall, consumed by their phone and oblivious to the gorgeous interior of the building and the glistening chandeliers hanging above.

When my dad returned from downstairs, the first thing he said was, “There’s a lot of people walking around here, just looking at their phones and missing the world.” Even after the doors opened and people sat in their seats, it wasn’t until the lights were dimmed and the crowd became quiet that phones were finally put away.

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Maybe it was because of the stricter rules and constant reminders at the Orpheum, but people stuck to the requests; no cell phones were in sight until intermission.

With smartphones becoming more and more popular, this is not an uncommon sight, especially among teenagers. According to a 2013 Nielsen study, 70 percent of teenagers ages 13-17 use smartphones. Even as I sit here writing this, my eyes shift constantly to the screen of my phone and the seemingly never-ending notifications popping up. Having this technology available all the time makes getting distracted inevitable.

Smartphones also make it easier to connect with those far away, but ironically can distance us from those right beside us. Sometimes it’s necessary to just take a break. Instead of repeatedly checking all of your apps and refreshing the screen, just put it down for a while. Take a walk, read a book, do something that does not involve your phone.

After the actors at the Orpheum took their final bow and the curtains came down, it was back to the real world. When the doors opened to the hustle and bustle of downtown Minneapolis, a lot of people’s eyes went back to their phone and ignored the dazzling scene in front of them. It’s hard to take a break from online, but once you do, you might find the world’s a lot bigger place than a 5-inch screen.


Alex Smith is a junior at Austin High School involved in dance team, National Honor Society and the Sentinel student newspaper.