As you read this article, you are probably no more than five feet away from your smart phone.  In fact, you are probably holding it – occasionally scrolling through to check your e-mail or to see if the cute person you met this weekend accepted your Facebook friend request yet.  Maybe you checked Foursquare or Yelp for dinner recommendations tonight, and you’ve certainly already tweeted about the fact that you’re reading the Archway.  You’re probably listening to an online radio station, playing local gamers on Words with Friends, and maybe even reading this article – all from your cell phone.

I’m not saying this smart phone phenomenon is a bad thing.  I, myself, am guilty of just about all of these things too.  The technology is pretty amazing, but many of us don’t realize the extent to which it has entered our lives.

Think about it – the last time there was a rainbow you probably only saw it because your friends tweeted about it.  Do you look out the window in the morning to see if it’s raining? No, you check the weather app.  If you need to know something, you simply ask Siri.  And chances are, you haven’t actually walked into your bank in years.  There’s an app for that!

Actually, there’s an app for everything, and it may be having some adverse effects on us.  The more we rely on technology, the simpler everything becomes for us.  We are getting lazier, and our attention spans are getting shorter.

If we keep relying on technology, will we remember how to use an encyclopedia or send a written letter in the mail?  It pains me to say this, but I don’t think we will.

While we should be out and about, exploring the world for ourselves, we are instead living virtually in our phones.  Instead of speaking to the people around us, we look at our phones as a distraction or excuses removing ourselves more and more from our own lives.

Not only are our independence and communication skills in danger, but our privacy is in danger too.  We have yet to realize technology’s ability to remember everything about us.  It knows what we’ve purchased, who we were with, what we’ve done, and even where we have been.

All of this information is stored online, and much of it can actually be found on a simple Google search.  An emerging technology called Augmented Reality will give smart phones the ability to generate a list of links about an object, place, or even person by simply being pointed at the object.

An Augmented Reality search on you would bring up any articles, statistics, records, tweets, photos, videos, locations, and Facebook posts that have anything to do with you.  Think of what one of these searches on you might look like.  It makes you value your privacy a little bit more, doesn’t it?

Although I can see technology as a phenomenal tool that has the power to greatly benefit society, I think we need to remember what it should be for and learn how to use it effectively.  So for now, loosen your grip on that smart phone and find out what reality might have to offer you.