It seems to me that social networking sites and fast Internet connection have taken over our lives. I recently got an iPad for my birthday and I haven’t been able to be away from it for more than an hour…if that much. It’s my new favorite toy, so it makes sense that I have been guarding it with my life. However, I don’t have it hooked up to a cellular network so without Internet, the device is rendered almost useless.
Once I got out of range of a free wi-fi service, I started to think about how dependent I have become on the need for instant a gratification by way of the Internet.
Most of what I use the Internet for when I need that instant gratification fix is silly stuff like a YouTube video that my friend mentioned or seeing a familiar face in a new movie that I have to look up on imdb.com to see where I know the actor is from.
What worries me the most about the instant gratification phenomenon the Internet and social networking sites have created is the significant decrease in my capacity to remember things.
I remember the time before being attached to an electronic devise that had Internet capabilities, I was able to remember the addresses of all of my friends, their phone numbers, and I actually did well in spelling bees because I could actually remember the spelling of things without the reliance on spell check.
Now, I can’t spell anything and the only numbers I really remember are my parents’ cell phones, the house phone, and my own cell number. Beyond that, I have to refer to my cell phone’s address book.
I know that isn’t entirely Internet connected, but most of the phone numbers I have in my cell phone are because Facebook automatically connected to my address book and downloaded all of the available phone numbers. How nifty, right? Wrong.
I would much rather ask someone for their phone number and give them mine in person rather than have them automatically have my number and I automatically have theirs. While I’m on this tangent, this personal disconnection we have with other human beings is becoming more and more of an issue.
Sure the world is getting smaller and we are able to talk to people on the other side of the world within seconds, but what about the people in the same room with us, or the people walking along the sidewalk next to you on the way to class.
If you just sit on the quad and watch people walk by between classes, you will see at least 70% of the people that pass you with headphones in, texting, or talking on the phone even though they are walking with a group of other people. I know I’m guilty of this same gesture, but that doesn’t mean I’m happy about it.
At one point last year, I made it a point to not look at my phone directly after class. I even started wearing a watch.
Of course, neither of those things lasted very long, but that was mostly because peer pressure is often the strongest when actions instead of words are used.
People can ask me to do something I don’t want to do until I’m blue in the face, and I won’t budge, but if you expect me to walk alongside you and not talk to me for the duration of our walk, of course I’m going to whip out my phone and busy myself.
This could be a radical suggestion, but what if we all just put away our phones for an hour. What if the entire campus went without a phone or a device that sends any type of messages for an hour.
Could you imagine what campus would be like? I’d venture to guess that people would actually talk to other people.
I’m well aware that people talk to each other on campus and in other environments, but most of our conversations are now spent on taking about Internet related things. I can be in the same room as my friends, no words are being said out loud, but an entire conversation is being had online amongst the people in the room. Houston, we have a problem.
By no means am I suggesting we should get rid of Internet all together. I can’t seem to work up enough gumption to delete my Facebook account, let alone the entire Internet.
I realize that the Internet has become such a large part of the way our daily lives function, but there comes a time when you just need to take a break for a few minutes of every day.
Play a game of cards, using actual cards instead of electronic cars. Open up a board game, talk to your friends, play with play-doh or Legos. Go outside and read a book, play a pick up game.
In many ways the Internet and the type of tools it has created have hindered healthy lifestyles of the past.
Now that I’m getting older, I’m beginning to realize the importance of true connections with other human beings. And by true connections I mean face to face conversations.
Nothing beats seeing the emotions flash across a person’s face during a conversation. Those emotions can’t be recreated over the Internet, even though we try with emoticons.
After a while, those emoticons just get ridiculous. But the Internet had changed us.
Facebook and twitter have significantly changed the way we interact with each other, and other Internet related activities have altered the way we approach education or everyday activities.
I’m excited about the level of technology that we have reached and the direction it’s heading. However, I’m not excited about the prospect of losing our humanity in the process.
Comments on this opinion can be sent to email@example.com