Keep Your Head Up

Andres Taborda ’15

“So look up from your phone, shut down that display,
take in your surroundings, and make the most of today.
Just one real connection is all it can take,
to show you the difference that being there can make.” 
Gary Turk

What I thought was a compulsive midnight run to McDonald’s on a weeknight ended up leading to one of the most eye-opening conversations. After struggling to talk to a box where there was human on the other side taking our order, a few friends and I  sat in the Davis lot inhaling fast food, and came to the realization that we might be screwed.

Looking back at the last four years triggers a trip down memory lane. What if I told you that we’ve spent most of the past four years looking down instead of up? I’m just as guilty as you are. We’ve been staring deep into the pixels of our iPhones and Galaxies and what not trying to avoid awkward encounters or figuring out where everyone is at any given time.

I have been trying to come up with some farewell words as I prepare to leave Providence College in two weeks time. It was after watching this YouTube video that everything was put into perspective. I thought about the great memories I had made at PC, but couldn’t help but think about the many more I could have had. Most of the ones never made were because I was on my phone, with headphones in, or simply just looking down.

Where to begin? If only in the past four years I had paid attention to whoever was trying to make small talk in the elevator instead of aggressively making Twitter reload on my phone. What if I had taken the time to say hello to someone making the trek up Guzman Hill to our 8:30? That could have helped the serious case of the Mondays. Or what if you had gone in for the kiss instead of frantically texting your friends for advice on whether or not to make a move?

That escalated quickly, didn’t it? Here’s the thing. Our generation has lost that personal feel and the ability to interact with other humans. Do we even know what taking a risk is anymore? Why bother facing rejection in person when Snapchat will delete it for you in 1-10 seconds and you can forget about it? It’s so much easier to send Snapchats and tweet and text people, but when it comes to interacting with others in person, we freeze. Steve Jobs and Co. put the world in the palm of our hands, but took away one of the best qualities a human can have: personal interaction.

Here’s what I’m trying to get at. We need to start claiming back our humanity. Technology is preventing us from making the memories that our parents still remember decades later. Our memories are becoming like Snapchats. They’ll disappear in a matter of seconds. So I’m offering my apologies here to everyone I so easily send Snapchats to but ignored in person. If I flirted with you over any of these apps because it was easier, but refused to tell you how I felt in person, I’m sorry for wasting time and not stepping up to the plate. To everyone who had a conversation with me and I told you I was “multitasking” when I kept looking at my phone, odds are I don’t remember our conversation and how I wish I did.

To my fellow seniors: We’re about to head into the real world. Two weeks from this exact moment (11:30 a.m.) Father Shanley will open our commencement ceremony. We (insert expletive here) did it! You actually need no better reason to have your head held high. As we go forth, let’s make a pact to look up and we’ll see how it went when we come back in five years for our first reunion.

This world is pretty screwed up sometimes, but I can almost guarantee that no one will propose to their future spouse on Snapchat nor will they say, “I just fell in love when she tweeted at me.” But what you will hear is, “We just locked eyes and that’s when I knew she was the one” or “We just kept in touch after college, met up, and regretted wasting so much time.” These are the romantic stories we hear from our parents or even those that entered adulthood before cell phones did everything for you. What’s so bad about bringing these back?

To everyone else: Make the best out of the four years you have here. Keep your head up and make sure that every moment, whether good or bad, is a memory that stays with you and doesn’t disappear when your brand new iPhone 6 takes a plunge in the pool this summer. Take the risk. Take a chance. Do it for our generation, not for the Vine or the Snapchat Story.