It was one o’clock last Thursday when the harsh reality hit me.

As I walked into my economics discussion, I stepped into the silence of 20 students, most, if not all, of whom were on their phones. They may have been texting their friends, updating their Twitter or aimlessly scrolling through Facebook, like a social media zombie that’s hungry for photos and statuses.

I took a seat in my chair, whipped out my iPhone and conformed to the trend of my generation.

As humans, we tend to search for comfort and belonging, but too often do we go about it the wrong way. When we’re presented with an opportunity to say “Hello” or even introduce ourselves to someone, such as in an elevator, we fear to take that next step.

Instead, we look at our smartphones, forgoing the opportunity to possibly make a new friend. This is the new reality: Face-to-face contact is becoming increasingly difficult in an age dependent on Snapchat and text messaging.

It’s becoming more of a challenge to find students who simply take in the sights and sounds of campus. Instead, we fall victim to popping in our headphones and checking the text messages we missed during lecture. We miss squirrels chasing each other, we miss the sound of laughter and conversation, and we may even miss the beauty of summer turning to fall.

Technology is becoming less of a commodity and more of a tool used to isolate humans from their environment.

Back in April, I was inspired to make a change in my life after watching a video called “Look Up,” which has more than 46 million views on YouTube.

The premise of the video, written and directed by Gary Turk, is that we search for ways to connect with each other, but instead end up spending more time alone as we cling to technology. Rather than enjoying the sunset, we must Instagram it; while we’re physically with two friends, we’re virtually with 600.

Turk then tells a love story, in which a man finds and asks a woman for directions. The confrontation initiates a friendship, which then leads to a first date, marriage later on and ultimately a life together with children and grandchildren. It’s love at first sight, but Turk reintroduces the situation with the man using an app on his phone to find his destination. As a result, the two would-be lovers never glance at each other.

The moral of the story isn’t “Don’t use your phone or you’ll never find true love.” Rather, it’s an example of how the butterfly effect — how small changes have larger implications — may affect our path in life. Turk’s solution to counteracting this effect: “Look up from your phone, and shut down the display. Take in your surroundings, make the most of today.”

It’s an important takeaway that people can easily forget, and something we should try our best to be mindful of on a day-to-day basis. So as I became fixated on my iPhone in economics last Thursday, I thought back to Turk’s video and promptly hit the lock button.

This isn’t meant to be a cynical view about the dangers technology poses to basic human interaction. We’re at the point in society where technology is a necessary tool, but we must learn which times call for its absolute necessity.

College is said to be the best time of your life. It’s where you can find a passion and stick to it; where you’ll make friends you’ll have for the rest of your life; where you’ll have a professor who changes your perspective on life; and where you grow as an individual.

Why waste that time on a cellphone or a laptop?

As Ferris Bueller said, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

So remember to look up.

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