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Abby Huntsman: Our phones have become our social crutch

Just two nights ago I was walking home from work, surrounded by the usual hustle and bustle of New York City.  And I, like so many others these days, was

Just two nights ago I was walking home from work, surrounded by the usual hustle and bustle of New York City.  And I, like so many others these days, was totally engrossed in whatever I was doing on my phone, not focusing on what was going on around me.  If I were paying attention, I would have noticed that everyone around me was scampering to avoid a huge rat bounding down the sidewalk.  Unfortunately for me, and my feet, I didn’t see it until its scraggly body literally ran across my toes.  I’m still cringing.

Talk about a disease infested reminder of how technology has totally taken over our daily lives.

Take for instance, dinner. It used to be a tame, family affair, centered around an actual conversation.

Now, that might be an extreme example, but for many families today, including the Huntsman family, meals look a little more like everyone staring at their gadgets.

And it’s not just family dinners. Dinner out with a group of friends, in many cases, ends up going like this: Hellos, photos, then editing the photos, and uploading them on all social media sites, checking photo status and approval between courses, and while at it, check Facebook, email, texts, and of course the Instagram dessert pic to finish it all off. Then it’s over.

The conversation, the atmosphere, the food, the entire experience were just things you did in between checking your phone.

With each passing day, technology creeps a little more into our daily lives. Our phones have become our best friend, and for some, their significant other. That might sound a bit dramatic, but get this: a recent study found that about 10% of smartphone users admitted to using their phone while having sex. Seriously? The heat of the moment isn’t enough to convince people to unplug? And among the 18-34 age group, that figure shoots up to 20%. That’s one in 5! If you’ve ever been on the other end of that situation, get out now!

It's no wonder many of us suffer from anxiety if our phone is lost for even a few minutes. Three out of four Americans prefer to be within five feet of their device at all times.

We rely on it to do everything, including daily tasks like checking the balance in the bank, saying, "I love you," breaking up, or booking travel.

There's more: 12% of Americans carry out these tasks while taking a shower, 55% do it while driving, and 33% do it while on a date.

Beyond that, our phones have become our social crutch.

Awkward silence? Pull out your phone and pretend you have an email or a text to check.

At that party where you don’t really know many people?  Not to worry, you now have your electronic toy to hide in the corner with.

It’s almost like we’ve forgotten what it’s like to live without our phones, pick up our heads, and just interact with the world. Isn’t that right Beyonce?

If that’s not a wake-up call, I don’t know what is.

Okay, how about a device-free hour a day, to live in the moment, to actually listen to what friends and family are saying at the dinner table. And above all, that would at least let me declare war on all the rats in New York.