Thursday, October 12, 2006

In the article by Mary Jane Smetanka “College students are wired, but can they connect?” she discusses the devotion and dependence this generation has on technology, and if it is a positive influence.

These days we cannot go anywhere and not see a laptop, cell phone or Blackberry. We have intertwined these items into our lives making them necessary tools to navigate ourselves through this world. We have connected ourselves to this web of information, communication and friendships- but our connection is through short blurbs of words and symbols, and through images of little cartoon faces showing our emotion. We are essentially doing to ourselves what cartoons and video games are doing to our children, shortening our attention span as well as killing any sort of depth in our thoughts and conversations. Can a cyberspace rapport replace an intimate or social connection?

Through all the ways to connect: e-mail, text messaging, online chatting, etc. I think the strangest one is the social alliance on websites like Myspace, Friendster, facebook and youtube. The interesting thing about socializing online is your identity can be embellished or distorted and that is perfectly normal. We post our perfect pictures and fill out our perfect profiles and we come up with cleaver comments- we are whoever we want to be.
I miss hanging out with people and getting to know all their idiosyncrasies and uniqueness; online we are just a bunch of boring, pretty faces saying mind-numbing things. The art of text messaging is just as bad; shortening a conversation to a series of one line, shallow banters. Of course there are exceptions, noted in the article, Kayeed Abdulali says “instant messaging is an amazing tool that allows him to stay in touch with family and friends from Tanzania and England to India and Spain”. And the U of M sophomore Sara Genrich said “ it’s like a substitute for hanging out with friends. This year, I don’t have time to do that”. This technology is a wonderful tool and when used to aid our lives, in school or the workplace, saves a lot of time. But when it becomes all consuming and we exchange going to the bar with friends Friday night, or going to the coffee shop with your best friend to vent about your week, we lose intimacy. When I have time to spend with friends I want the whole package.

That being said I need to come clean that I have checked my e-mail numerous times while writing this paper, my I-pod is sitting to the right of my laptop and my phone is to the left. I am ready to connect…

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