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By Maria Browne

It’s no secret university students require access to the Internet.

Many professors will use Desire to Learn (D2L) to upload slides or to receive papers, expecting their students to check the site for updates on a regular basis. Outside of D2L, countless online academic journals provided by the Queen Elizabeth II Library are necessary for writing research papers. So what happens when the Internet goes out, impeding this access?

This happened to me just days before I completed the fall semester. The Internet went out in my house, and was out for several days. While inconvenient, it was not the end of the world. I simply drove to the library to regain a Wi-Fi connection or to a friend’s house. However, the situation made me realize how dependent I have become on the internet in everyday life.

Morning fix

Let’s start with the beginning of my day. Each morning consists of resting in bed for a few minutes, then hauling out my phone and catching up on my Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat feeds. During the Wi-Fi disappearance I opted to use my data to get my morning social media fix. This lazy habit was not the case in high school when I owned a pink, Motorola flip phone and going on the Internet was forbidden, unless I wanted to hike up the cellphone bill. In those days, I would simply lie in bed until I accepted the hard reality of beginning my day. Today, the mass amount of information accessible through my social media accounts is time-consuming and getting out of bed takes longer.

While the Internet occupies my attention at the beginning of my day, it also has an effect on class learning. During my last seven semesters at Memorial, I have been instructed to store away my phone and listen intently. In my current and final semester, however, something new has happened: my sociology professor allows us a “cellphone break” during class. My first thought―Really?― was followed by seeing other classmates haul out their screens and I followed suit. The addiction has become so prevalent even professors are adapting their teaching patterns.

Smartphones = social soothers

Before the rise of smartphones, the Internet was confined to a laptop or desktop. Thanks to these mini-computers, Internet access now follows us wherever we go. As a result, smartphones can also be used in social settings. For example, awkward silences in conversation can be compensated by pulling out screens and refreshing the Facebook newsfeed. Sometimes, I wish for a time when the Internet did not exist.

It is apparent the Internet is here to stay, but the way we approach it has changed dramatically in the last 10 years. As a student, my reliance on the Internet is crucial when completing essays. On the other hand, my entire day is filled with countless phone checking and text messaging. However, when my access to Internet disappeared just last month, it made me call into question just how much of my time is spent looking at a screen.

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