As a student, I am expected to fill myself with new information every day, and as a member of today’s society I am expected to be contactable at all hours of the day. My phone is the perfect tool for me to meet these two expectations, and together with its constant presence and infinite knowledge, this leads to a very dependent relationship. Every day I wake up to my phone’s alarm and some days I fall asleep to my phone’s podcasts. Throughout the day my phone sits, ready to be used, in my pocket. I think that it is fascinating that humans have developed something that overcomes their bodies’ limitations and have begun to use phones as instinctively as they would limbs. This fascination is, however, shadowed by an angst; I am always conscious that a lot of my time is, to an extent, wasted reading pointless things and staring at a screen. Rather than discussing the unknown with friends we simply google it, rather than looking up we now have the temptation to look down. For me, hours of staring at a screen and typing doesn’t feel natural and yet it is fast becoming the norm in my day-to-day life:
If I have time, I like to have a long breakfast and accompany my porridge with a news podcast.
Some days I’ll not want to touch my phone and instead chat with housemates, or I’ll be in such a rush that I’ll be lucky if I even have enough time for my porridge. After breakfast I hop on my bike and cycle the 20 minute ride to uni. I was worried about having to cycle to uni last year and thought that it might deter me from attending lectures but it has actually done the opposite, it means I’m really awake for morning lectures and I start my day feeling energised. I was also worried about having to lug loads of stuff to uni but it’s not too bad and I don’t need to bring in my laptop.
Our library has recently set up a laptop loan service where you can take out a Chromebook laptop for 6 hours, like you would a book, so I usually try to leave enough time to go to the library before my morning lecture or seminar to take out a laptop. The only problem is that you’re not guaranteed a laptop as there are only 24, so I always bring a pen and paper too.
Sometimes I use the laptop to take notes in lectures (using google drive) and to get readings up in seminars (using our VLE). Other times I prefer to take notes with pen and paper. If the lecturer has put their presentation slides up on our VLE it make sense to use the laptop because I can copy bullet points from the slides and paste them into my google doc which saves a lot of typing and means I can concentrate more on what they’re saying. During lectures I also find it useful to have the ability to quickly google any words or names I’m not familiar with whilst the lecturer is talking.
In seminars it is useful to have a copy of the readings we are discussing to hand and because it would involve a lot of paper and printing credit, I never print off extracts of readings – so having a laptop is very useful. I never find myself opening up the readings on my smartphone and I wouldn’t ever use my phone during seminars because I think it looks rude for the seminar tutor. I tend to look at most of the readings briefly before the seminar on my laptop although if I have to do a presentation or an essay on the readings, and have to read them in depth, I try to take the printed books out of the library. I find I absorb the readings better if it is from a printed book, and if I try to read long text on a laptop my eyes get tired faster and I am a lot more likely to look for distractions on the internet.
Throughout the day, my phone comes in handy to quickly check things. I use google calendar to remind me where lectures are and I can look at old emails with important information in such as room changes. I can take photos of posters I see on campus to remind myself to look up the event later on facebook later. I can text and call friends. I can check the weather forecast to see when would be best to cycle home. There is an phone app for our VLE but I find it quite awkward to use and never use it because I can use google calendar for my timetable and the email part of it only shows emails received and you can’t reply. So I tend to just access the VLE on my laptop.