#WhatsUp

Whenever people told me, that SF is a very tech-savy city, I used to just nod and smile. When Alumni told us to definitely get smartphones if we wanted to be taken serious, I just kept scrolling past that on my newsfeed . Why would I, right? In Germany, I had gotten along just fine with only my Laptop, an iPod that could connect to free wifi and a phone that I considered advanced, because it could play music. I almost felt proud that I did not have the need to give into this whole App business. I hated the fact that, once people got themselves a smartphone, they would check it constantly, no matter whether at the dinner table or during a conversation or every five minutes in class. It seemed like, once you had a smartphone, you cut yourself off a bit from socializing.
If you don’t see this behavior in yourself, go to a cafe. The first few days that I was here on my own, I had been trying to make friends by just sitting down in a cafe and starting to chat with people. Well, guess what. I failed. Not because there wasn’t enough material to talk about but because no one would look up from their phones. Jeez, I thought, are you ashamed of being here alone, do you have to hide behind your phone to give off the impression of having a life?!

……..
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I have become one of them. Between writing the title and the first sentence of this post, I literally paused for 15 minutes because I had two Whatsapp notifications, one text message, a nudge that someone drew something for me on “Draw Something 2” and a Facebook like on some random thing. And, of course, all these things had to be checked instantaneously. It. Is. Too. Much.  I know what you think- “First World Problems“. “It’s not like she didn’t have a choice“. “Spoiled Brat“.
Look, here’s what happened: I needed a new phone and the price difference between getting a phone that LITERALLY didn’t have more buttons than On/Off, Red Phone, Green Phone and a simple smartphone was minimal. So here I was, thinking: “Oh, well, a smartphone might be handy in case I really need to check for directions or the bus, right?“. So here I am, stuck with a smartphone. Being all happy with the unlimited call and text option I got with it. And then a bell rang in my head- “What, I can get WhatsApp now! I can stay in touch with my friends and family back home!!!” So, I downloaded WhatsApp. And, while I was at it, I did the same for Facebook, Facebook Messenger and Instagramm. Because, you know, why just stick to one channel of communication if you can have five different ones…
Then, at my first day of school, every student got a “free” iPad. Why, thank you, I’m certainly not gonna say No to that. iPad and I have become great friends, it has Instagram and Facebook and Facebook Messenger and five different games and a bunch of different MUNI/Bart Apps and YouTube and a wordpress app (you never know when creativity strikes again)….For the first few days, I was amazed. Now, however, I am getting a little overwhelmed. When I set my Skype status on busy on my iPad during class, it syncs with my laptop and I don’t see when my parents are trying to reach me. An incoming Email triggers a whole concert of notification beeps and tweets and my pictures are on four different devices. I started setting my alarm on all four of them, because I am never sure if I might have forgotten to charge on of them and it’s gonna die over night or if one is muted and won’t ring (iPads won’t ring, I learned that the hard way). These things are supposed to make your life easier but I find that I am becoming more and more dependent on them and I don’t like it. I am not sure yet, how I’ll go about it, since I love talking to everyone on WhatsApp and I enjoy making time go by using some of my fun Apps but I can see how, day by day, I am becoming one of them- the lonesome strangers that come into a cafe, spend their time slurping Pumpkin Chai Lattes, scrolling through HONY pictures on their iPhones, commenting “It is so fascinating how everyone around you has such touching stories!” and then get up and leave. It’s great to have access to information 24/7 but especially when splitting yourself between time zones, you never rest. In the morning, I am all excited that my friends are awake so they start telling me all about their days, then my parents skype me, then I go check on news on Europe, then it’s noon. Germany sleeps and it’s time to take care of business here. Checking up on Emails, catching up with friends, making plans, whatsapping random pictures back and forth. Then its night, Germany is getting up and you want to send some good vibes for them across the country…

Maybe, what really bothers me, is that I spend my whole entire day talking to people but automatically shut out so much of what’s going on around me at the same time. Anyways, just food for thought, I know this is complaining on a really high level. Just wanted to explain, why I was too overwhelmed lately to keep you posted on SF. Next post will be more practical, promise 🙂

On that note, I gotta go, beat my friend on Temple Runner!

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