On the day my grandpa died, I was in the middle of a game of League of Legends. My mom got a call from my grandma. I didn’t know what my grandma said, but my mom yelled for us in a tone that made it clear something was wrong.
As sad as it sounds, I figured my grandpa had just fallen over. He had Parkinson’s, a disease that makes your muscles very shaky, and he had both of his hips replaced, so he had a hard time getting around. Him falling wasn’t a rare occurrence, and since we just lived next door, my dad was usually around to help out.
My parents didn’t come back to our house for over a half hour. My brother and I were playing the game together, sheltered from the real world.
The saddest news is this: I found out my grandpa died from a text from my neighbor. “Hey Daryn, I’m so sorry about your grandpa. Let me know if there’s anything I can do for your family.”
I didn’t check the text until the end of the game. I didn’t think to run over and make sure my grandpa was okay. I didn’t even notice my parents hadn’t come back.
As soon as I saw the text, I ran next door. There were already a line of cars around my grandma’s driveway and the Hospice workers had even beat me there. I was ashamed that I had been so caught up in my game I hadn’t even thought twice about my grandpa.
For the whole next week, I thought about how awful it was that in a moment where my grandma needed support, I had been too worried about my team losing if I left the game for a few minutes.
I vowed I would never let a video game matter more than real life again.
Every day, technology consumes a huge part of my life. I listen to music as I walk to work, I do my homework on a Macbook, I watch TV when I get home from school and I’m on my phone pretty much always.
I’m checking Twitter for the 47th time, wondering what our president is up to. I’m refreshing Reddit even though nothing has changed since the last time I checked four minutes ago.
I’m texting people I just saw an hour ago. I’m scrolling through my pictures. I’m rereading old messages. It’s embarrassing. It’s an addiction and it’s unhealthy, but my phone is now an extension of my hand.
I go through mild separation anxiety when I’m away from it.
I feel stressed out whenever I’m out of service. Even on camping trips where I’m hoping to relax for the weekend, I’m still worrying about if anyone is trying to contact me or if the world has declared a nuclear war.
On the surface, technology seems to bring only benefits to my life. It connects me instantly with people halfway around the world. It lets me watch a TV show for the ninth time on Netflix. It shows me half a million people marching in Washington D.C and lets me know I’m not alone.
But it also disconnects me from the people in my life that I care about. I go to dinner with my dad and we’re on our phones the whole time. I go to a concert with my friends and everyone is recording the concert instead of just living in the moment. I pay $10 to watch a movie and still pull out my phone occasionally, checking for that text.
Now, it’s almost impossible for me to imagine a life without technology. I do all of my homework online and Google every random question that’s ever jumped into my brain.
The world is literally at my fingertips, and it’s hard to imagine giving that up.
Still, I’ve worked to detach myself from my devices. I go to dinner with my dad and leave my phone at home. I go to concerts with my friends, and I don’t worry about having videos to look back on in 50 years.
I know I’ll never be able to cut myself off completely, but it’s important to connect with the people that are in front of you. I don’t want to miss something important because I was too busy looking down at a screen.