"We have this idea that someone's phone will reveal their life, that if you found an iPhone on the streets you'd have access to photos, e-mail, notes, texts, videos, apps. Each of these would project an angle of light that would gradually illuminate a whole person. But the truth is nothing like that. The truth is that a phone will help you build something like a hologram, and if you tried to touch it, your hand would breeze right through the image." - Kate Fagan
We tend to care a lot about our phones and social media. Always worrying about what to post, what filter will make us look more appealing; always putting our best self out there for the world to see. This isn't to say our social media doesn’t reflect who we are as people or that we aren't our most genuine selves on social media; you can be. What I – along with many others I'm sure – believe is that no matter what you have on your phone or post on social media is not all that you are. It's easy to get wrapped up in the social media blackhole, but what social media or your phone history won't show you is the impact you've made on people's lives. Your phone can't tell you all that you are behind the pictures, emojis, or Snapchat stories. However, the people closest to you can. They see you in your weakest moments and lift you right back up to watch you achieve your greatest accomplishments. These people know you to your core.
With all of this and the quote from Kate Fagan in mind I was inspired to see what these important people in our lives had to say about their closest friends. More often than not, we do not express what we love and admire about these people as regularly as we should. We are constantly "interacting" with them via text, Snapchat, or Instagram but it rarely has any substance. Our interactions can become less personal and more about keeping a streak alive. Technology has allowed us to form new connections and advanced our ways of communication farther than we had ever imagined. But what about basic human interaction?
That is why I took Fagan's words to heart and did an experiment with a few of my closest friends from school. Without telling them why I was doing this or the background of the questions I was about to ask, I left them with this question:
If someone were to randomly find your phone on the street and had access to everything on your phone (texts, photos, social media) what assumptions do you think they would make about you? What would this person think of you?
If you were to pick up Kate Brennan's iPhone on the side of the street and you unlocked some of her most personal and private information, where would you start? If you were to start looking through her camera roll you would find pictures of her and her closest friends and lots of screenshots of homework assignments and emails. You could make the assumption that she cares about school, but you would be quick to judge her Instagram and assume she is a sorority girl that only cares about partying and going out with her friends and boyfriend. Maybe you would be pleasantly surprised to see her Instagram feed is also filled with vegan accounts and recipes and you could make the assumption she is a vegetarian, but you would be left wondering if she's the kind of vegetarian that pushes her methods on you or supports you for eating a $40 steak. If you clicked into her call logs you would see regular Facetime calls with her mom and calls to her grandparents. A college student that calls her grandparents, regularly? I guess you could assume she is a kind person that likes to check in on her family and loved ones.
For the second part of the experiment, I asked my friends the following question:
What about this person do you admire? What is it about them that you were drawn to and have grown to appreciate and love? Why is this person one of your closest friends?
What Kate had failed to mention were all the great things beyond her phone that her best friend notices within her. "Kate is the most kindhearted person and is always there to lift me up when I am down,” said Cortlynn, one of her best friends. “She is one of the most genuine friends I have ever had. I think it's also important to know about Kate that she is so in-tune with her body, her overall health, and well being. She knows how food is going to play into that, that's partially why she is vegetarian. Kate is very understanding and is always down to talk shit with me when I need to. Also, she's gorgeous. Kate is a naturally beautiful person.”
If you were to find Cortlynn's phone on the street and began looking through her camera roll you would make the assumption that she is obsessed with herself and her image with the amount of pictures she has of herself. Her Instagram feed would solidify that image you have in your mind of the girl she would be: a blonde, self-centered diva who is in a sorority and prioritizes partying over anything else. You could accredit this diva personality to being artistic and crafty with all of the edits and collages she has made over the years. Taking a deeper look into her personal life, you would see phone calls and texts with her family and the bitchy text messages exchanged between her and her older sister. Maybe you could relate; sisters that fight? The odds are pretty likely.
Would your judgement end there or would you give her the benefit of the doubt that the sarcastic comments are just a form of sisterly love?
Kate and Cortlynn have been very close friends since their sophomore year of college. Now almost graduated seniors, the two have conquered a lot during their friendship.
"Cortlynn is one of the most loyal friends I've ever had,” Kate said. “She is truly a bad ass and always fights for the people she loves. Whether it's in the business world or in her personal life she can keep up with anyone. She is seriously a bad ass. I've noticed the only time she is ever quiet is when she is working on an art project. She is always checking in on the people that she loves whether that's calling her dad or going out of her way to visit her friends, Cortlynn really values human connection.”
Our friends know a lot more about us than we give them credit for. Maybe that random call or time you brought them coffee seems innocent to you, but to them it could have meant the world. This is a long way of saying we'll never know the impact we have on people's lives and it's important to remember people are not all that they seem. Since we're in quarantine there isn't much else for you to do besides read so if you're still here, thank you.
It came as no surprise that my friends said such heartfelt and personal things about their friend; why else would they stay friends with them? But as I mentioned before, it doesn't hurt to remind your friends every now and again how great they are. Reassurance is a beautiful thing and can be very important, especially now giving our country's current state. Check in on the ones you love, support them during their time of need, and remind them that they are appreciated.