Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Our Alternate Reality: The Internet

This post may seem to be, for indeed it is, a squeal to my earlier post Girl Vs. Machine, but this time I would like to shift my focus from technology in general to the narrower, but ever growing, world of computers. Theseus Statement: I HATE the way the internet has infiltrated every aspect of our daily lives. Don't get me wrong, google maps has definitely made driving easier, and I've waisted a fair amount of time uploading pictures to facebook...but are these good things? I mean really good for us both as individuals and as a society?

For example, the other day I was talking to my younger brother who just recently got his drivers permit. He mentioned he needed to start paying better attention to where streets were and in response I started explaining how the roads are laid out in Arizona. He interrupted me and said "You don't have to tell me, I'll just get a GPS".  Now I have nothing against the GPS, I have one and has been known to come in handy. What I do have a problem with is the mindset that we shouldn't bother learning something that a computer can just tell us. When I started driving, I didn't have a choice, I had to figure out the roads or else be perpetually lost, but now all I have to do is type in an address and good Ol' Madge (my Magellan GPS), will give me step by step directions. Really cool? Absolutely. But be honest, isn't this a little pathetic? We have become so used to various forms of computers (you don't even want to get me started on ipads and kendles) that we have grown both addicted to and dependent on them.   Which leads me to the real issue, and my true annoyance, the continual facebooking and text messaging (which I guess can even be combined now) of pretty much everyone. 

We invest so much of our time into written conversations that are not in person, we forget how real face to face conversations should be. This effects two areas; first, the dumbing down effect: instead of typing like we speak, we start speaking like we type. Phrases like LOL, OMG, JK and WTF which are stupid even when they are on a computer screen, but when people actually say them...we stoop to a whole new level of stupidity. And second, we tend to forget our natural inhibitions. When getting to know someone in person, there are certain things that we hold back. It's not natural to share deep feelings in a causal conversation. However, when the person you are talking to is not present, but merely a conversation box on a screen, we don't always follow these social rules, often delving into personal and deep conversations with people we barely know. While these conversations are not wrong, by any means, they can reverse the natural order in which you get to know someone, often resulting in awkwardness when actually talking in person. You see, a huge part of getting to know someone is observing them. How they talk, facial expressions, the way they treat others, body language, etc. It's actually possible in our modern world to become great friends with and even romantically involved with someone that you're not even able stand being around. 

The reason for this being that we can interpret written messages to be whatever we want them to be, depending on the tone and voice and inflection that we imagine the other person to be using. These conversations can almost become addicting. There is a freedom in expressing oneself through writing, historically people have been experiencing that freedom by writing in a variety of forms, but now with the lack of education combined with the digital age, we now express ourselves in a variety of forums.

Before I end this rant, I'd like to expand on the topic text messaging/cell phone internet. I don't have a ton say, only this: When you actually leave the presence of a computer screen, and venture out into society, try to interact with the people your with, especially if your only with one other person. Leave your phone alone, it won't kill you. We are so addicted to these devilish contraptions that five minutes away from them leaves us feeling like there is a void that needs filling. This is just another way that social skills are effected. We have created a need to be in constant contact via text (this is especially true in romantic relationships). 

Look, I'm not saying it's all bad. After all, I am blogging right now. I use facebook, I text message...if anything this whole post is direct towards myself, reminding me what what I know and how I don't want to be.  I just wish that life was a bit more simple. We need to remember what is valuable.