As connected as our world is on the internet nowadays, it was interesting to read and listen to a perspective that combats the excessive usage of technology. Yes, technology may be incredibly helpful and yes, it may be a necessity for the younger generations to survive, but so many people rely on the internet to solve their problems, so much so to that point where people would rather live a life online than a life in the real world. I will use Turkle’s New York Times article and TEDtalk to support this stance.
According to Turkle, she believes that technology changes who we are, and she has been able to witness this change over the past 15 years. She stated that she has “studied technologies of mobile communication and (she’s) interviewed hundreds and hundreds of people, young and old, about their plugged in lives. And what (she’s) found is that our little devices, those little devices in our pockets, are so psychologically powerful that they don’t only change what we do, they change who we are. Some of the things we do now with our devices are things that, only a few years ago, we would have found odd or disturbing, but they’ve quickly come to seem familiar, just how we do things,” (Turkle’s TEDtalk). Turkle talks about how people text/email during board meetings, they text or shop during class. I think the most important thing from this TEDtalk is that Turkle realizes that there is a problem, and we are the ones who are setting ourselves up for trouble. Its not the technology that creates the problem, but it does surely feed into it. “We’re getting used to a new way of being alone together. People want to be with each other, but elsewhere,” (Turkle’s TEDtalk) and honestly, I find this extremely relatable. It is beyond frustrating to be in a conversation with someone and not receive their undivided attention. People our age have a problem, and it will become better when people learn how to put their phones down.
Turkle states in her New York Times article that the excessive use of technology has also hindered students from developing strong friendships. “The trouble with talk begins young,” and “when they share things together, what they are sharing is what is on their phones. The old conversation taught empathy. These students seem to understand each other less,” (Turkle NY Times). In their defense, younger children are the ones that have grown up around the most technology, so this does make some sense. They grew up playing games on iPads and taking pictures with the Snapchat filters. They depend on technology to make their lives better, even though studies have shown that even just a few days without technology have allowed children to have more emotion and empathy. This new age of children does not view phones as an accessory, but as a necessity.
On the other hand, Fenton’s perspective supports the excessive use of technology and social networking sites. She realizes that social media platforms have gained popularity, especially among the 18- to 34-year old’s. Fenton stated that as of 2010, “22 percent of all time spent on the internet is now spend on social media sites,” including Facebook being the most popular site (Fenton 89). I’m sure that this percentage has increased since 2010. Also, in 2010, over 500 million people used Facebook (that’s 1 in 13 people), and this number has also probably increased over the years. Think of how many businesses make promotional pages now via Facebook; this number has surely gone up.
Social media has also transformed our means of gathering information, according to Fenton. Think of how many news articles we see on our Facebook timelines now. A few years back, nothing like this would be visible on social media, but now, we see everything from puppy videos to articles about the latest news stories. People no longer really have to watch the news, because they can read everything they want about current events directly on Facebook, or Twitter.
Aside from news stories, social media and technology has allowed all sorts of information to be freely available to any internet user, on virtually any subject. This has allowed for a wider range of communication to happen, causing our world to change and expand. To play devil’s advocate, too much information being easily accessible may not always be the best thing. Breaking news will spread like wild fire, and the existence of various social networking sites contribute to the spreading of information.
Overall, I see both sides of this argument; there are some very evident pros, and some very perilous cons. We as a society just have to learn how to balance the availability of technology with our face-to-face social interactions. At time point in our lives, both technology and our relationships are important, and we need both to thrive.