Massachusetts Daily Collegian

In a world ruled by technology…

By Tim Drugan-Eppich

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Humans have always been a social species.  A species that works together to build great things, explores beyond natural borders and creates civilizations. But, could that cooperative attitude be changing?  In a technology-dominated world, the current college generation, which has grown up plugged into technology, must resist the temptation to spend all of their time hiding behind a glowing computer screen.

When I walk through the campus, a place full of students with many interests and ideas, it is disturbing not to see spontaneous interaction.  Conversations do not simply pop up between people. Why? The answer is simple: everyone is in their own world, a technological world.

Many studies show that as use of technology has skyrocketed, hours of face-to-face interaction have dropped dramatically.  In 1987 the average hours of technology usage was four hours per day; in 2007 the average was eight hours per day.  Face-to-face interactions also dropped from six hours per day in 1987 to two hours per day.

Social interaction is important to a person’s health. For example, having a close knit group of friends has been found to reduce the risk of a great deal of health problems.  These are not close chat room friends, or ones that you talk to on Skype, but real, in person relationships. Social interaction is proven to have a positive effect on serious health issues such as cancer, strokes and dementia.

Despite all the social options technology offers, it seems society is becoming more and more solitary in an increasingly crowded world. In the United States, the percentage of people living alone was 17 percent in 1970 and 26 percent in 2000. And even when people are in relationships, it is becoming very common for couples to be in different rooms using their own electronic devices, when in the past they would have been interacting and building on their relationship.

I find it disconcerting and irritating when I walk around campus and notice how many people are buried in their personal world of gadgets. I am sure many people would agree with me at how annoying it is to be walking and have the person behind you on their cell phone, or singing along with their iPod.  Students are becoming very adept at being alone in the real world, while befriending hundreds and hundreds of people online.

The reason people spend so much time obsessing over the Internet and social interaction sites is because they are a chance to create the perfect “you.”  The Internet is a place where anyone can be whoever they want.  Whether you realize it or not, every picture you post, every one-liner you tweet, and every

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Facebook subject or comment you “like” is creating a persona.  This is the persona that is carefully thought out by all.  A girl leaning over in a picture she took of herself to give the illusion she has cleavage, a skinny guy taking a shirtless picture in his bathroom to show off his abs, or even a perfectly airbrushed photo.  These are examples of us trying to show our best to the world.  But it isn’t real.

A picture cannot show a personality, a laugh or a joke.  A post cannot give the feeling of a friendship, love or even a hug.  You can’t marry your IPhone, you can’t go on dates with your computer and you can’t get down and dirty with your flat screen television.

People need to be more in the moment, and although many of you have heard this from your parents, teachers and people in your lives, hear it from someone your own age: you are an interesting person and someone wants to talk to you.

I am not engaged in a war against technology. In fact, I doubt I could get through college without it, but the potential negative effects are daunting. Therefore, I am in a predicament.

Like anything, technology must be used in moderation or it can have harmful effects. Technology is the greatest procrastination tool ever invented, but the consequences of procrastination are serious from missing a paper to missing out on experinces. So take out the IPod, get off your phone, and turn to the person next to you.  Not only will it change your life, you might meet someone really great … “Hi, I’m Tim!”

Tim Drugan-Eppich is a Collegian columnist. He can be reached at [email protected].

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