Blog Post 1
What do you do when you’re sitting a restaurant with your friends, having a good time and making general merriment when all of a sudden one of your friends pulls out their phone and just begins to type and stare at it for a solid minute? Are you irritated, or do you not care, or do you not even notice? How you respond to that situation says a lot about the nature of the relationship you have with not only that person, but of the relationship you have with your technology. In our modern society, you would be hard pressed to find someone who did not have some form of cellular device or computer which makes it all the more important that we talk about issues these new strange gadgets have on our communication with the world around us. Is technology helpful because we can talk to anyone in the world at any time or are we slowly reducing our real human contact and making true human connection impossible? Those are the questions that I hope to address in my Blog Series.
Today, a large percentage of American citizens own a cell phone regardless of their socioeconomic background. Without one, you are left behind in a world that is racing ahead and communicating at seemingly light speeds. Yet, how does this change the way that we as a society communicate with one another on a day to day basis? Many people can relate of how they and their friends use shortened words or slang to send text messages, and some studies have even shown that some people have lowered inhibitions when speaking through instant messaging as opposed to face to face.
What does this all mean? Ultimately, what it means is that we need to begin to examine the way technology changes us. We have to observe what we are now capable of and what we are becoming when we are given the power to communicate with someone without seeing their face from across an ocean. And we also have to begin to look at the psychological impact that our computers and phones and other devices have on us.
I know that for me within my own family, I see that my younger sister is increasingly attached to her phone and even begins to panic when her phone is not readily available to her. This matter hits me personally, and I hope to be able to find the root cause for all of this. In an article on the Newsweek website by Zoe Schlanger (2015), many people were unable to perform basic cognitive tests at their best when they had their phones taken away from them. The researchers went on to say that for these people their iPhones had become extensions of themselves and that without them, “[Subjects] also reported higher levels of anxiety and feeling higher levels of ‘unpleasantness’…”
I would argue that as a result of our new gadgets, the world is much smarter and faster than ever before. In an article on the TechTank blog by the Brookings Institute, research showed that by the end of 2014, there would be more connected devices than there were people in the world, and we are now already two months into 2015. We can reach further than we ever could before, sharing knowledge to everyone who has access to even a simple dial-up connection. Books can now be condensed into tiny pieces of data that we can store on a handheld device which has enough storage to hold all the books in a library. Our potential for sharing information is limitless as we enter this new age of information and it is our duty to push these limits now so we can create an entirely interconnected world.
Through my subsequent blog posts, I hope to educate not only those who are confused by technology today, but also by people who are well versed with their devices who want to know more about their new potential, as well as the pitfalls that they may come across in the years to come. What I will be talking about in these posts is something that is happening here and now, and needs to be discussed.