Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Why can't we turn off?

It's no secret that technology is fast becoming an integral part of our lives. With devices such as cell phones, computers, and the like keeping us constantly updated on both our own state of affairs and that of the rest of the world, their presence is quickly becoming all too essential to our daily responsibilities and leisure activities. Whether looking up friends via FaceBook, typing up notes during your professor's lecture, or even just pulling out your iPhone for a quick game of Peggle between classes, it's rare that we don't have some form of tech running at any given moment during the day. What's more, every time the latest advance for one of these devices shows up, everyone scrambles to be among the first to get their hands on it, eager to be among the early adopters. However, with all our energies being put towards the pursuit and use of said technology, it begs the question: when do we get to the stopping point?

Indeed, as technology becomes more and more important to us, it becomes all too easy to let it completely consume us. People end up paying thousands upon thousands of dollars to grab the latest new tech, regardless of whether they have a use for it or not, just for the bragging rights. Even if their current set-up is perfectly fine, the desire to be among the first to get their hands on the latest product and the bragging rights that come with it is too great to resist.

Furthermore, the more plugged in we become, the less aware we are of the world around us. Social media sites like FaceBook and Twitter do a great job of helping us keep in touch with family and friends, but at the cost of genuine social interaction. The way two people converse online vastly differs from how they would interact in the outside world, and as a result, they're far less able to easily adapt and conform to the rest of society. If a person spends too much time conversing only online with others, they'll never develop the proper social skills to help them communicate in the real world.

Similarly, by having constant access to the internet, it gets harder and harder to police what individuals are doing when they should be doing other things. Many times during different classes, I've spotted individuals surfing the web or texting each other when they should be paying attention to a lecture. Distraction is easier than ever, and the risk of making a crucial mistake as a result is higher than ever. Not to mention that of you stay locked to your devices, you miss out on the opportunity to really experience all the world has to offer. Can you really say you've lived your life if you spent most of it in front of a screen?

In addition, internet culture is gradually affecting the rest of the world; members of the younger generation, for example, have begun to use shortened, "chat-speak" forms of words in offline writing. In fact, several movements have begun to pop up demanding that some words actually be stricken from the dictionary for being too difficult and underused, while others would be replaced with shortened or more phonetically-spelled versions to make them easier to type or learn. This idea that our very language should be watered down to appeal to the lowest common denominator is almost beyond comprehension, and yet some are all too eager to see it put to use.

Worst of all, though, it feels like I read a story every week or two about someone dying because they or their caretaker refused to stop playing video games or using the net long enough to attend to basic human needs; babies' cries going ignored for the sake of keeping a virtual farm running, waiting twenty hours to eat while trying to grind to level 73, dogs nudging their bowls towards their owners who are busy watching all of LOST's third season's completely ludicrous.

Technology has certainly helped to make our lives easier, but you can have too much of a good thing. So the next time your phone or laptop is up and running, why not shut it down for a while and see how well off you can be without it? You might just surprise yourself.


  1. I turned off my cell and laptop to study for finals in the fall. It was amazing how much more I focused and seem to be less distracted. I feel that sometimes it can cause more harm than good.

  2. !! I just tried to put my laptop down to watch TV last night and couldn't! I had to pick it up.

  3. The stories of people dying because they refused to stop playing a video game/surfing the net are insane... People trying not to sleep by slamming energy drinks and playing for multiple days in a row is out of control. Hard to believe that would ever happen, but it does.

  4. I also agree that it's crazy to be so sucked in that you forget to tend to your child, dog, or yourself. I'm one to constantly be distracted by my phone and computer as well. However, I've gone without using my laptop for an entire weekend. It was phenomenal actually. I really was more productive even with the use of my phone on occasion. I doubt there will be a serious break from technology for anyone. It's really about prioritizing.

  5. too much of anything is not good.
    great post. its SO weird how if i DEACTIVATE my facebook i wont go on it.. the only thing i hav to do to reactive is sign in... but its like a mentality thing i haave no idea. i get sooo much done when i officially "deactivate". i cant live without technology and socializing, i needem both equally..socilal networking has now made it more convenient i guess lol