The Addictive Social Network

Do you know where your phone is right now? Your iPod? How about your laptop? Of course you do; you know exactly where they are, how much battery life they have left and who has and hasn’t responded to your texts and messages. Most important of all though, you own all of these devices, and more. We live in an age when humans don’t only rely on technology — they need it to live. Our lifestyles have morphed into technology-dependent entities, rendering people who don’t get on this technological wave to be left behind.

Here at the New University we recognize the benefits that technology has wrought for mankind. The fact that we can be instantaneously connected to anybody in the world is beautiful. We can keep in touch with friends and family in other countries in a way people couldn’t even imagine in past generations. The advances in the medical field have been truly astounding as well, enabling people who decades ago would live an obstacle-ridden existence to have a better chance at a normal life. Technology also helps ensure our safety, with home security systems protecting us while we sleep and cell phone trackers allowing parents to know the location of their children. The fact that technological advancement has benefited our lives in an infinite amount of ways is indisputable, but it has also had negative effects, and these enforce a lasting, significant change to the nature of our lives and those of all humans to come.

The most important downside of technological advancement is its contribution to the deterioration of human relations. With the use of texting and social networking sites, we no longer have to actually interact with people in order to communicate with them. The art of conversation, sitting down with somebody and talking to them, hearing their voice, has been completely stripped from future generations. Now you can send a text, a message, an email and never have to speak to anybody. Technology has reduced us to pictures and textual responses, our identities, attributes, the characteristics that make us who we are no longer important, and we are no longer special.

20 years ago, if a person wanted to be known to somebody else, they had to go up to them, introduce themselves, look into their eyes, experience the nerves, the butterflies and actually be required to have a conversation with another human being. Nowadays, we press the “add friend” button of Facebook and think that we’ve actually done something. Not only that, by adding somebody on Facebook we give ourselves credit for doing something brave, something risky, when in reality we are hiding behind the veil that is our computer screen and social networking sites, avoiding the true nature of human relations, which necessitate interaction with another human being.

In past generations people used to go up to strangers and ask them out to a movie; people would have to actually interact with one another. Now if you try to approach somebody you don’t know, they behave as though you are crazy, like it is taboo to talk to a person you don’t know. This is a result of the distance technology has allowed humans to create between one another, we have lost the essence of human relations, we keep ourselves estranged in our own little social circles and overlook the possibility of worth in other people.

Social networking sites in particular disrupt the natural circumstances of human interaction. With websites like Facebook, we have the ability to find out so much about other people that we have no good reason to know without having verbally learned it from them. You can know what a person likes, dislikes, what they do in their free time, who their friends are — all before meeting them. We have been given the freedom to judge others before even talking to them; it’s ridiculous.

Everything that we put on Facebook is what people from older generations would talk about on a first date. Think about that for a second. We are being robbed of good first dates, of natural human contact. Technology is changing life, for the worse. We are slowly but surely losing our humanity, and becoming an extension of the machines we own, not the other way around.

Texting and social networking bring a new wave of stress into our lives as well. We constantly worry and wonder about a text or message if we are not responded to immediately.

We become paranoid, creating problems where there had been none before. If somebody doesn’t respond right away, they must be unhappy with us. If we don’t have our friend request accepted within a few minutes, it must be because the other person thinks we’re creepy. The point is that this is all wrong, don’t worry about it because social networking is a false representation of who you are and we all present a desired image, not who we actually are. Therefore, we should not judge our happiness on these sites or on technology at all. Interact with people face to face, keep the essence of being human alive, talk to others, for your sake, my sake and the sake of all generations to come.

Whether or not we like it, technology helps and hurts us at the same time.

One theory we don’t subscribe to is the idea that we are a lazy, worthless generation. We are human beings, and are equal to generations from the past. The difference is that the circumstances we are under are new and have never been present in the past. In a sense, we are products of the technologically-advanced world we were born into. We are simply living and working with what we have.

Our advice is to keep a balance — it’s hard to not rely on some form of technology in this world, but it is not healthy to submerge yourself entirely in it either. Text and talk to your friends. Live, not through your computer or phone, but through yourself.

Please send all comments to opinion@newuniversity.org. Include your name, year and major.