At one time, the purpose of technology was to reduce one’s work and to make it more efficient. A boom in technological advancement created the Industrial Revolution and helped establish the postwar economy during the 20th century. It extended from the railroads to the refrigerator, washing machine, microwave and so forth. And the result was more time to think, contemplate, visit with friends or do whatever it took to make oneself happy.
And the TV came in the late 1940s and the early ’50s – for those who could afford it, which was the predecessor to how much of today’s technology functions. But somewhere there was a tipping point in which technology shifted away from industriousness and toward taking people’s time away.
Between Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest, text messaging and binging on Netflix for hours at a time, social media and the Internet have removed much deliberation from daily life, which is especially true of the Millennial generation. And considering that most social media was developed within the past 10 years, there is no telling how much it will grow in the future.
Most college students’ days revolve around classes, schoolwork and extracurricular activities, but too much of the time in between is ceded to technology and, often times, this indulgence is glorified by Internet memes.
It’s easy to see the effect of social media on socializing and time management. Notice how common it is on campus to see a shuttle full of people with headphones in their ears and their eyes fixated upon the screen of a cell phone – often at the same time. And how frequently do people complain about being busy or not having enough time to socialize, when so much of their time is devoted to mindless self-indulgence?
And despite all of this so-called social media, people our age are increasingly inept at carrying a conversation – social media has reconstituted the very essence of socializing with friends and interacting with others.
Too often the norm is that when a group of friends hangs out, half are on their phones or computers and the exception is actual time spent face-to-face.
The devotion to social media is one of the most definitive characteristics of our generation and, unfortunately, so are many of its consequences.
This obsession with connectivity and the need to tell others about the most mundane events of one’s day comes also at the price of Millennials having a reputation for being self-absorbed, poorly equipped to handle the work force, overly sensitive to criticism and extremely entitled.
No doubt, social media can serve a useful purpose when used in moderation: it is a good way to stay in touch with people, share news and it is an easy way to communicate. Social media has the power to create political change, which was seen during the Arab spring and during the past two presidential elections.
But much of the time, it seems as if technology is the master of the user, rather than the other way around.
Essentially, the world is a much more interesting and fulfilling place when one might actually stumble into a conversation with a stranger, notice the pretty weather outside, or simply relax without the nagging of a cell phone or the need to check updates. In fact, it’s part of what makes us human beings.
Experiencing parts of the world also seems a bit more interesting than watching a video of a cat or a seeing a picture of your friend’s dessert on a Facebook news feed.
As American philosopher and writer Robert M. Pirsig, said: “We’re in such a hurry most of the time we never get much chance to talk. The result is a kind of endless day-to-day shallowness, a monotony that leaves a person wondering years later where all the time went and sorry that it’s all gone.”
Ross Fogg is a College junior from Fayetteville, Ga.