It is no secret that technology has become an overwhelming part of the lives of mankind. From as early as I can remember, I was exposed to cellphones along with a plethora of other devices. This is a luxury I have never had to live without unlike my grandparents, great grandparents, and so on. I can’t imagine a life, especially now that I am in college, without certain technology that I use daily like my MacBook, cellphone and camera. I have also grown up with the nick name ‘social butterfly’ because I am a very outgoing person and I love being around people. Healthy relationships have always been very important to me whether it be with friends, family, teachers, or coworkers. The amount of people with a social side seems to be a dropping number though. In our generation today, technology seems to be impacting us more negatively than it ever has before.
Almost everyone has a list of items they check off in their head before leaving home. Most commonly: keys, wallet, cellphone. Many people use devices on a day-to-day basis for navigation, communication, and access to search engines and social medias at their fingertips. It’s almost unheard of for someone over the age of 16, give or take a few years, to say that they don’t have a cellular device. The reality of technology is that with the positive aspects, it has a very high amount negative impact as well. How we spend our free time says a lot about who we are, and a lot of our free time is spent staring at one screen or another. Not only is this bad for our eyes, but our brains too.
The history of technology is like a roller coaster that only goes up. If someone were to hand a grandparent the Apple iPhone X, many of them may not know that it is a cellphone. Even more surprising, a lot of parents don’t even know how to work the newest smartphones. This is because they didn’t grow up with one in their back pocket. This also shows how quickly things have changed. From Sherry Turkle’s, ‘Reclaiming Conversation: The power of Talk in a Digital Age’, she speaks on her memory of the first generation to encounter network personal computers in the 1980’s and 1990’s. She goes on to say that at the time, these computers were machines you went to when you wanted to play games, write, or maybe send an email, but never did it seem that text might at some point displace talk (Turkle, 13). Turkle goes on to share that in this age, parents feel obligated to embrace the new rather than have their kids disconnect from their phones at places like the dinner table. This in the eyes of the author is dangerous, she says, because we are responsible for “talking to the next generation about our experiences, our history; sharing what we think we did right and wrong” (Turkle, 14). It will only get worse if we don’t put a stop to it now.
Social media has become a favorite in the world wide web. According to a study by the Pew Research Center of Internet and Technology, in the year 2018, sixty-eight percent of adults were Facebook users and seventy-eight percent of people between the ages of 18 and 24 used Snapchat (Smith). Another very popular data base that allows you to create and share photos with those you choose is Instagram. These platforms pose problems that many don’t realize. A big one is time consumption. Time passes rather quickly while scrolling through feeds, catching up with the latest gossip and looking through your best friends’ vacation pictures. According to a recent article from The Telegraph News, people now spend 24 hours a week on social media. An entire day! This is twice as much as 10 years ago, Charles Hymas states (Hymas 1). This time could be spent making face to face interactions and creating relationships. Instead, we look through edited pictures and fantasy lifestyles that make our own feel less. Relationship goals are unrealistic based on what we see online, and we are spending too much time looking through them. This is ruining the way we interact with people in person.
Not only is social interaction becoming less common, so are the skills to do so. The first thing to go is eye contact. Looking someone in the eye when speaking is highly difficult for some and often gets describes as ‘awkward’. The lack of this single act will affect not only relationships, but opportunities. Many jobs will not hire an employee who cannot make eye contact with confidence. Along with that, slang or ‘short hand’ is the most common language usage over text. If you listen closely, you’ll hear individuals say “Lol” out loud when this is only supposed to represent someone laughing. Transferring text talk to paper is very unprofessional and decreases the English level being used. According to an article by Concordia University, more than 30 million Americans cannot read or write above a third-grade level. This could easily be due to the amount of texting the society does, with little to no focus on proper language and spelling.
Along with the other downfalls to technology, it also brings with it hate. A different kind of hate almost, because some don’t see it as being ‘real’. Many teens and young adults forget when they are behind a screen there is still a real person on the other end receiving the bullying. They find it easier to say and post things when they aren’t looking someone directly in the eyes. Sherry Turkle wrote about this as well in her book. She provides a story of a middle school boy whose father committed suicide. At school, he made a girl upset with him. She then went home and decided to post of Facebook that she’d hoped he would end up the same way as his dad (Turkle 166). This is a prime example of things that happen online. In this case, the girl was caught and punished, but that is not always how the story unfolds.
In conclusion, there are many variables that tie in to this topic. Technology advancements have pushed medical care to an all-time high and being able to contact a friend who lives on the other side of the world in a matter of minutes is a crazy thought for those of earlier generations. When researching our people though, there are a lot of concerns to be considered. Humans should pay closer attention to how much time they spend searching the web, how they interact with people while online, and how well they practice their literacy skills while doing so. Albert Einstein once said, “I fear the day technology will surpass our human interaction. The world will have a generation of idiots”, and I believe this is true.