The effects of being tethered to 21st-century technologies

The effects of being tethered to 21st-century technologies

In the seventh grade, I would walk up the block from school and pretend to make calls on my new Motorola Razr. I remember how having a phone made me feel cool and powerful. All I could do was call and text—most of which were to my parents— but it was something new and exciting. I couldn’t help feeling like Andy from “Te Devil Wears Prada,” skirting around town making calls to important people. It’s funny, because at that time a cell phone was so expendable to me. I didn’t have it on my person at all times. I kept it off and stowed in my locker when I bothered to bring it to school, and I misplaced it regularly. In fact, I went through about five phones in three years because it fell out of my pocket on a roller coaster, I left it on the back of my mom’s car before she drove away, it got stolen with a purse, and other ridiculous reasons I cannot even remember.

Today, there are very few times when I don’t have my phone with me. I have a smartphone, so I use it to go on social media, send emails, look at things, take and store photos, play games and play music. I use it as a GPS, to manage my banking, read the news, FaceTime, text and make calls. Tat’s just day to day, I’m sure there are dozens of other ways I can, and do, use my phone. Tis is quite a stretch from the simple and sporadic texting and calling I was doing back when at 13. It always surprises me to remember that I didn’t even get a smartphone until about a quarter of the way into my sophomore year of high school. It is honestly hard to remember what I did before I had the power of constant entertainment. I guess I just watched commercials, stood awkwardly in elevators and used a desktop computer to check Facebook and AIM my friends. That power surge I felt with my first flip phone is now elevated to the extreme. Technology is so potent in today’s society and in a lot of ways it’s really awesome—I can entertain myself by going on social media during TV commercials, or better yet just binge-watch a show on Netflix. I can tweet at the stroke of genius instead of waiting to find a computer, I can capture and share my life in an instant and I can always find my way around as long as there’s a little bit of service. My phone breaks the barriers of distance and cultural divide with its ability to follow my French foreign exchange students on social media, and communicate with family and friends across the country. With all these amazing benefits, why does our generation get so m u c h hate for our use of technology?

It’s instant gratification. I don’t have to wait for answers. I don’t have to be bored ever again. The only catch is that I have become totally dependent on the technology available to me. I know it is possible to go a few days without media access, but given the option, I know I wouldn’t want to. I live a life that’s totally connected, but at the same time it has made me increasingly lazy about my methods of communication. I’d rather email professors than talk to them during their office hours, I text a question or a “Happy Birthday” message instead of calling and I have been guilty probably a few too many times of texting someone in the same house as me instead of just finding them to tell them what I need. I have become so accustomed to the ease of this lifestyle, and I know it isn’t just me. The more I recognize my own faults in this realm, the more I notice that almost everyone around me is falling into the same practices. I am not saying that no one speaks, or that we are becoming robots, or that the end is near, but that there are certain drawbacks that come with this existence.

I am available at all hours of the day, and am expected to be so. If someone emails me about class at 10 p.m. for the next day and I don’t get it, it’s my responsibility. I also have a serious aversion to boredom …well doesn’t everyone? Yes, but I’m never satisfied with just being, I have to be doing at least two things at the same time to feel occupied . And finally, people skills are hard . They are skills that need to be continuously practiced and when I can just avoid doing that I become more awkward and introverted. Technology isn’t going away. In many ways this is a good thing, it means we are improving and moving forward. But it also means we have to start adapting to the changes it brings, or risk losing control over media.

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