The (Technical)Ties that Bind

Hey there! I am thrilled to have this wonderful opportunity to share my thoughts and experiences; hopefully, you’ll find them entertaining, thought-provoking and worthwhile. I also hope you’ll find the music I share to be entertaining as well, as I believe the music you listen to really contributes to your overall reflection… the symphony that composes you, if you will. Here’s something that really composes the person you are – your social network and communicative habits.

My favorite course in college thus far(which includes a meager 3 semesters) incorporated my favorite topic – Facebook. Well, that’s a pretty superficial reason to say that it was my favorite, but still, it assimilated current topics and issues with an overarching theme of technological changes and their impact on our communication practices. At the end of the course, the professor offered a challenge called the “digital detox,” during which the students would voluntarily distance themselves from their digital personas and devices. In laymen’s terms, this meant no Facebook or texting or Youtube or hours wasted on the internet. A daunting challenge for many, indeed.

Personally, I was looking forward to this challenge. Summer camps and job requirements stipulated that I not be engage with my phone or other devices during the time spent there, though for me, I welcomed this reprieve from what I felt was a digital responsibility. When someone texts you, you are obligated to respond immediately. Trust me, I feel this way to others, therefore I will treat their messages with the same importance they treat mine(or at least, I hope they do). Also, I store some important items on my phone(despite its lack of intelligence) such as pictures and calendar information. All too often, we defer our memory into our devices, thinking that we are freeing our own minds to more important matters while our phones store more trivial matters. The reality is that we are deteriorating our memory, as Nicholas Carr argues in his book The Shallows(I am ashamed to admit that I needed to google the title despite my reading it last semester; evidence of our reliance on technology!).

Think about it – how many times do you personally supplant your intelligence into Google calendar, your phone’s contact list, important password information in a document, etc etc? We tend to think – if I can simply retrieve this information in less than .32 seconds via Google, why should I waste my neurons learning this fact? However, by thinking this way, we shortchange ourselves by disabling our ability to learn. While I do not want to memorize an excess of 100 phone numbers, nor is that a worthwhile exercise in memory, I do turn off search completion in the address bar and search engine boxes. I typically do not turn on my phone until noon on any given day, dedicating my full attention to class or whatever task at hand, instead writing notes about who I need to message or a date to remember in the margins of my notebook. I have found this is even conducive to writing, as I immediately record an interesting thought I hope to later recall and expand upon, such as this post. Lucky you for enjoying the spoils of my musings!

On a personal note, I find that the longer I stay away from my phone or Facebook, I feel that I am incurring a postive kind of debt; the longer I stay away, the more messages or notifications I should get. Right?! Sadly, this is not always the case. Boo. As a member of a generation exposed to an excess of technological channels meant to increase our social connectivity, I fall victim to the trap of believing that I deserve more attention than I actually deserve. Attention must be earned and merited; simply because I exist does not obligate others to pay attention to me. I must engage with others, give them attention, care about their interests, activities and the like; I must be a proactive person. To passively expect others to notice you simply because you are there is a bit narcissistic. But I want to end this on a positive note – be aware of your engagement with technology and how it impacts your relationships with others. Your phone or Facebook does not compose or restrict your social life; they are merely channels of expression or, at least, a means of communicating the necessary details of when to meet up. Texting and sharing thoughts and experiences on Facebook is fun and enjoyable, but all good things in moderation. Go out and ‘facetime’ with someone face-to-face or poke someone in real life or laugh out loud, for real.

HINT: I hope to share music with you in every post, via a hyperlink(I’m learning html and all this cool stuff, so I love doing this. It’s like a little Easter egg hunt). Please please PLEASE check out the artist I linked the in greeting and get their music! Also, the phrases which you see underlined are references to posts to come. In a single afternoon, I drafted over 20 blog posts! You’ll see them soon.

Thanks for reading!

Ellen

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