Feb 052012
Authors: Chance Johnson

Driving around this weekend, there was something missing that I recall being a distinct part of my childhood. There were no kids out sledding or playing in the snow. This is just a guess, but I have a good feeling that they were inside, glued to a video game…maybe even playing a video game about playing in the snow.

We have become so detached from reality.

Although my generation’s technology is abundant, it contributes the least amount compared to the last 100 years. What does modern technology accomplish besides accommodating our needs of instant gratification and convenience? Experiencing the worst economic climate since the Great Depression, what evidence is there that the latest innovations in technology create jobs?

With the recent closures of video-rental franchises and the gradual disappearance of the CD, there is little reason to think otherwise. People simply do not want to leave their homes. Isn’t there something to be said for actually getting out of your house among the living instead of staying glued to the couch?

My generation and the one following are full of social idiots. Smartphones are a major contributor to this. The smartphone has conditioned users to retreat to it as a type of security blanket when either bored or in a situation where they don’t know how to converse like intelligent adults. It allows people to “hide” from others around them by seemingly being pre-occupied. Whip it out, and suddenly you’re too important to look up from the screen. I hate having conversations with the tops of people’s heads because they’re too busy texting to look up and acknowledge me.

Throughout my time in college, I have seen classrooms gradually fill up with laptops. While sitting in the back of class, I notice the majority of computer screens displaying Facebook. When a professor asks a student to put the laptop away, it’s like trying to take a pacifier from a baby. In my experience, the student usually packs up and walks out of class.

“We got stuff done in the sixties. We went to the moon. What are we doing now?”

Sitting through a lecture by Dr. Temple Grandin last fall made me realize how much time and energy is wasted on Facebook, Twitter and the smartphone. We haven’t come close to putting a man on the moon. There is nothing extremely groundbreaking about new technology –– it’s basically all entertainment based. Yet, we are expected to acknowledge that the current forms of technology dwarf everything that has come before it, and if you’re not on board, then you’re a laggard.

To be fair, technology has advanced in the most important way: national defense. The U.S. military has developed technology that I can’t even begin to wrap my brain around. Air Force Space Command has satellites that can detect incoming missiles from halfway around the world and stealths that can make it from coast-to-coast in less than an hour. With that in mind, this technology exists because we have to keep up with global threats –– a necessity. I am told this is the mother of invention. But what’s so necessary about Facebook and smartphones?

Last semester, I gave a presentation on this very subject. Looking around the room, I spotted one student who, all semester long, made it clear that he knew more than anyone in the class, including the professor. At this point, he was too busy playing with his phone to give me his attention during my presentation. I used the situation to my advantage. Standing in front of him, I stated that text messaging disconnects us from our surroundings. Being sucked into his phone, he had no idea I was using him as an example, helping me to further prove my point.

I’m annoyed that entrepreneurs like Mark Zuckerberg are viewed as heroes –– he is riding the coat tails of people like Steve Jobs and Bill Gates who have developed truly amazing technology. He’s built a website that wastes people’s time and causes them to procrastinate.

Now attention-starved people with too much time on their hands have a soapbox on Facebook to complain about how bad their day was…sounds like a heck of an achievement.

Chance Johnson is a senior journalism major. His column appears every other Monday in the Collegian_. He can be reached at letters@collegian.com_

 Posted by at 3:46 pm

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