As you walk across campus, count how many people are zombie-fied on their phone while they walk. You might be amazed if you look up from your own phone to see the number of students walking and texting or walking and talking on their phone. Then if you take it a step further, and cut yourself off from the Internet for a day or two. You’ll quickly realize how much you actually use the Web within a normal day. We’re overly dependent on technology and, for the most part, we don’t even realize it. Technology has come to consume our lives.
There were two occasions that caused me to reevaluate my technology use. First, my work place recently cut back on Internet availability due to computer viruses. This caused me to quickly learn how little of my homework could be completed without it. Homework assignments were either to be completed online or research for the assignment was found viewed on the Web. I never really thought about this until I was scrambling for my text book or lecture notes as some kind of basis for a few of my projects that could be completed within my few minutes of downtime at work. Most of my homework could not be completed though without the nearest available Wi-Fi after work. I began to think how ridiculous this is since, not even ten years ago, the biggest homework helper was simply the textbook distributed for class or books from the library for research.
My second run-in with technology was switching cell phone carriers and heading up north for half of my spring break. I didn’t realize the new phone plan would not receive service up there and was useless to me. Not being an avid texter or caller, I figured that it would not be a big deal for me. After three days I realized I missed the comfort of having communication to the outside world. I was having withdrawals not being in the loop with everyone. My mom was also not happy about me being non-responsive until day five when I finally got service back.
These circumstances made me realize how overly dependent we are on technology. And I’m not alone with these thoughts. According to the NY Times article, “An Ugly Toll of Technology: Impatience and Forgetfulness,” technology has altered our personalities.
“Some experts believe excessive use of the Internet, cellphones and other technologies can cause us to become more impatient, impulsive, forgetful and even more narcissistic.”
The author quotes a professor at St. Bonaventure University, Dr. Kimberly Young stating that technology dependence is similar to an eating disorder.
“Technology, like food, is an essential part of your daily life, and those suffering from disordered online behavior cannot give it up entirely and instead have to learn moderation and controlled use.”
With this last quote from the NY Times, I second the idea of learning how to moderate ourselves with technological use. When a teacher offers the book on a computer or in hard-back, there’s a chance to moderate. When you have a moment to write a letter rather than text, there’s a chance to moderate. And when you have the chance to play an online game or a board game with friends, there’s another chance to moderate. We need to look up from our phones and computer screens and start living life, noticing what is all around us.