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The growing addiction to social media and technology as a whole is nothing short of unrecognized or under-researched. But, personally, have you ever profoundly thought about your own consuming presence in the digital world?

This concern is mostly directed towards teenagers and young adults, so, to put the addiction in perspective, let’s envision a scenario on a college campus. More specifically, let’s narrow it down to sitting at the glorious fountain, smack-dab in the middle of the UAlbany campus.

Maybe you’re sitting with a one or more friends, or you are completely alone. Think about how many times you will look down at your smartphone to enter the realm of technology and mentally leave the physical world. Sure, your sister’s friend’s latest tweet about her new makeup kit might exist in your mind as the most interesting thing to pay attention to, but have you ever wondered what you may miss or already missed right in front of you?

Not to be dramatic, but what if instead of surfing mindlessly through Twitter – or whatever digital reality you’ve been sucked into – you look up and see your soulmate sitting across from you at the fountain.

Okay, maybe that’s a little unrealistic, but think of the endless possibilities that could unfold. You could look up just in time to stop that football from hitting you in the face and save yourself from an overwhelming sense of embarrassment. If you were looking at your phone, some conscious, polite person may have yelled “Heads up!”, but we all know that your senses are highly weakened when staring at a screen, including hearing.

Let’s envision some more things that could have happened because, yes, the internet almost seems limitless to what you can discover, but nothing beats the raw mystery and vastness of the real world.

What if someone within close proximity to you started to tear up or, at least, appear to be in a state of distress? If you were to look up and see that person, you may start to wonder and/or feel more. What could have possibly gone wrong with this person? Practicing empathy and compassion, whether the person knows you are or not, can be very beneficial your own well-being. Maybe he or she happens to glance towards you and catch your eye; A simple smile from a stranger could be the little boost of warmth in his or her heart that changes the mood.

Lastly, let’s think about a more positive situation. There, in front of you, is one of your professors with his or her small child, and the two are splashing around together in the fountain, laughing and smiling. Isn’t that something worth taking notice of?

Like empathizing with someone in a sad state, observing positive interactions among people around you may truly uplift your own spirit and inspire you to interact more with the person sitting next to you. And if you’re alone, just sit in contemplation for a moment, enjoying the sweet connection to reality.

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