When you walk down the street what do you see? The sun shining through the leaves along the sidewalk, a hint of a breeze flutter through a woman’s hair, two friends reuniting after a long separation. Or are you even looking up at all? These days most of what I see when I am walking around is people disconnected from the world around them. Instead there are men and women walking around with their heads down and eyes staring into the florescent light of a cell phone screen. It’s a fact that technology has become a very strong presence in the world today and we have seen many great things come from it. Now if a kid is abducted the police can track him with the cell phone that is on him, or the fact that soldiers who come home from overseas with lost limbs have a chance or regaining what they lost. We can watch the sun rise on Mars and a woman who has been deaf her whole life can now hear her child’s voice for the first time. Technology is a beautiful thing, and we need it, but with something great there is always a limit, some act of self-control that is necessary.
Although there are great aspects of technology there are of course some disadvantages that accompany the perks of doing things electronically, the greatest disadvantage being the disconnection of people from the world around them. Technology has become such a large part of our world now that some people have chosen to live in a virtual world instead of try to connect with the real one. Instead of taking the time and energy to struggle through school people can get degrees even PhD’s online. Kids are spending hours playing video games with their friends instead of going outside and enjoying the fresh air. Technology is destroying human communication; people are slowly losing the urge and ability to speak to other people face to face instead of through a screen. Now this may make me sound like I was born in the 1920’s, preaching to little kids about how “back in my day” we couldn’t go online and use the land line at the same time, but after doing some research one would have to agree that there is a problem here, maybe not with all people but with a large part of the human population. In an article by Carolyn Gregoire for the Huffington Post, she writes about the decline in eye contact and how it is connected to the increase in digital use. “An adult makes eye contact between 30 and 60 percent of the time in a typical conversation” she writes “but emotional connection is built when eye contact is made during 60-70 percent of the conversation. In other words, the less eye contact, the less of a connection is made”.
Possibly the greatest improvement that we have experienced in our daily lives with technology is the different ways we can keep in touch. When we meet people we like or friends with whom we wish to stay in contact with or even those with whom we have lost contact, Facebook aids us in making sure we keep those people in our lives. Of course, there is such a thing as over doing something. “The Anti- Social Network” is a short film on YouTube that explores the idea of taking Facebook too far, and how it affects the way you connect with people in your life. There is a big difference between connecting with people on Facebook and spending your whole life telling those people what you are doing. We all have one of those friends who posts everything they are doing on Facebook every five minutes. There is something that can be said for maintaining some level of privacy.
I am of course guilty of all the things I discussed in this post. I myself friend people on Facebook and sometimes there is a lack of eye contact in my daily conversations. I check my phone to see if I have any new text messages, and when I’m feeling like a true techie I might even take a picture of my food if it looks really good. I am not trying to say that technology is the enemy and that the Terminator movies are based on the future of our world. What I am saying is yes, technology is amazing, but we all need to learn how to have it in our lives without letting it dominate our lives. Sometimes it’s good for us to just be able to sit and not do anything but think, or to have a conversation with the cute guy on the bus instead of texting about him to a friend. We all have a timer on how long we get to be on this planet, and when we are connecting ourselves to the wrong world we lose the precious time that we are given in the right world. So the next time you take your phone out to snap pictures of that beautiful sunset from the gazebo, or tweet about the cute girl you saw in the library, stop. Enjoy those last rays of sunshine before they disappear behind the mountains, ask that girl about the book about coffee she’s reading and ask her if she wants to grab a cup. Think of it this way. Life is a cup of tea and technology is the sugar. You want a cup of tea, not a cup of sugar. Let technology do what it was made for, that is to act as an aid throughout life, not a chauffeur.