a student of mine asked me to fix her phone screen, but the mission was a complete and utter failure. it would turn on, but the screen stayed black.

i suggested she take the phone to the store because it was still under warranty.

a couple of days later, i asked her what the status of her phone was.

“i’m so sad,” she said, streaking her finger down her face, simulating a tear drop. “my said she would take me on the weekend.”

i tried to put a silver lining on the situation. “but don’t you feel good not being tethered to it? you’re free!” though i’d be hard pressed to ever give up my smartphone completely, there have been times when i didn’t have a working phone. it would be painful at first, but i’d feel that invisible cord around my neck loosening after a while.

“well, it feels good and bad.” she shrugged, her eyes moving left to right, looking for the right words to explain how she felt.

“like, i don’t contribute to society, you know?”

she threw up her hands in surrender to the situation.

“i’m useless.”

her response stunned me. “what do you mean? you’re not useless.”

“i am, though. i’m not uploading pictures, i don’t have snapchat. i just sit in my room, and i don’t contribute anything.”

suddenly, i felt like paul atreides from dune, drinking the water of life.

i finally understood what it means to be a milennial.