Monday, May 16, 2011

Technology: Helpful or Harmful? By Hannah Davis

Do people rely too much on technology in today’s society? Are we getting to the point where we would rather send a text or instant message instead of calling someone or talking face to face? Could younger generations be losing important social skills due to the ease associated with talking through media devices instead of in person? Has technology made society more distant and impersonal?

From personal experience I can see both sides of the argument. On the positive side I can be more direct and honest when I’m communicating in any way besides face to face. I have a hard time expressing anger, frustration, and fear in conversations, but when I am not directly talking to another person I feel it’s okay to show these emotions. In a way, the cover of technology allows me to open up more and voice opinions that normally I am too concerned to express.

Another thing I like about technology is that it is quick. Instead of writing a letter (does anyone really do that anymore?) and waiting for it to get there, the recipient to respond, and it to get back to me, I can Skype with someone instantly. With the new technology, people can video chat with people in other countries, which is allowing them to stay connected.

Technology also removes another burden for me. I don’t know if others feel the same way as I do, but when I am communicating in person I begin to worry about what I am about to say and if it will be positively received. On the other hand, when I am emailing or texting someone I am able to carefully chose my words and fully think about what I want to tell the other person. This takes away some of the pressure I feel, as well as helps me find ways to clearly communicate to others.

But can that also be a negative aspect? Have I come to rely on technology to help me communicate and forgotten how to talk to people in person? Sometimes I worry that my shyness is perpetuated by my ability to hide behind social networks and emails. Instead of learning to talk in front of groups, which is a huge fear of mine, I can instead write a blog. I’m still getting the point across, just in another form.

But is it okay to avoid interacting in person? I have observed people neglecting those they are with to text a friend. People will take a call and end up talking to the person on the other line longer then they will to the person they are with. People are so use to using technology that people are even starting to break up with their significant others through email or social networks instead of in person. Are all of these things acceptable?

It seems people can become addicted to forms of media and communication. People in many of my classes are so obsessed with staying connected through their phones that they can’t even turn them off for an hour and a half; they must sneak text messages when the teacher isn’t looking. Others take their laptops into class and instead of paying attention are distracted by Facebook or YouTube.

So as we can clearly see technology that helps us communicate has created positive and negative issues. It helps us stay in touch, helps us communicate, and can allow us to be more open and honest. At the same time it can cause us to ignore those around us in favor of talking those who are on the other line or computer, keep us from socializing and learning how to communicate in person, and can be addictive.

So, we must ask ourselves each one question; does the ever expanding technology hinder or help us? The answer may vary for every person, and because of this everyone needs to assess their own involvement with technology. If it is starting to negatively impact your life then it’s time to consider how to cut back or improve what you are currently doing. If you are able to cope and thrive with all the technology, then maintaining that is important.

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