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Technology: Society's new crutch

            Modern day information is spread daily and what may be infinitely, all over the worldwide web. An estimated six billion people on the planet are internet users and operate on some sort of computer nearly every day. I have begun to suspect that in some aspects, the technology of today is being overused and people have become overly dependent on technology because of its effects on younger generations, the way people interact with each other and how the personal and private life have been combined.

            Technology, in all its greatness and splendor has become a part of many people daily routines. People scramble out of bed in the mornings, and check their emails or phones like how they used to do with newspapers (many news publications have transitioned online to reach a wider audience and solve the problem of declining hard copy sales). So many people being able to absorb so much information from so many different sources in such a short amount of time. This carries over directly into the learning and communication environments for younger generations. I remember the days in elementary and early middle school when there was a hushed excitement every time the class noticed that laptop cart tucked in the corner of the room. Now things are a little different. Younger people have an unconscious expectation to be able to connect to the internet, some sort of computer or electronic device in pretty much every public and private setting and without it stems some feelings of anxiety, disconnection and overall discomfort. This has become the norm but I can’t help but feel worried about what this can lead to.

            Human interaction in general has greatly grown and suffered at the same time due to leaps and bounds in social technologies. People have access to a plethora of social media sites and apps that can both build and maintain relationships with others from anywhere in the world. A person can be “internationally known’’ from an online account or series of YouTube videos and even make a living doing so, or at the least a paid hobby due to the monetization of every online medium. Congratulating others has been changed to a like or thumbs up as signs of approval.  The problem with this arises when people begin to get more comfortable maintaining an online personality or presence, as opposed to a genuine one in person, more grounded in reality. It’s come to the point where things you express online under your own private accounts can be the deciding factors for an individual getting a job or making it into that school they so badly want to attend. Many people would much rather text someone or IM (Instant message) someone else to communicate, even if they’re still in the same room, instead of giving them a more personal phone call. Even letter writing will be a distant memory soon. The line between people’s online personas and real life are becoming blurred and possibly even indistinguishable.

  Nearly one in nine people on Earth are on the social media website Facebook. A site originally intended for college students to communicate with each other and stay connected post-graduation has now changed into something much bigger. Entire companies are run from the site and all kinds of different social media sites and apps have been generated as a result.

This may all seem great and innovative, which it is in some cases, but many other times this outlet and others like it lead to an over utilization of modern day technology. People spend hundreds of billions of minutes per month on Facebook alone. I can only imagine how this can affect people’s productivity in the work place setting, in school and other social settings. Wi-Fi is one of those things that have pushed people to use these different online outlets pretty much anywhere. Restaurants, schools, hotels, even airplanes are beginning to have it available, and you must wonder. When does it all become a little too over bearing? More than once I’ve met someone new, face to face only to be introduced to them by their twitter or instagram handle, which at first seemed pretty funny honestly but later sank it as very strange and a little pathetic. So many people have forgotten that your private and personal life should not intertwine or mix. Those who ignore this unwritten rule seem to cheerfully post things online as if it were their own little diary, except the pages are uncensored for everyone around them to see. Statistics show that if Facebook was a country, it would be the third largest in the world after China and India and twice the population of the U.S.  This information puts everything into perspective. People have come to invest so much time and energy into their online entities that they have come to integrate them into their personalities and real lives, this is how you know it’s come too far. When your real life reputation can be made or destroyed because of things spread online, regardless of validity an indicator should be going off. There are just some things that should not be meshed together and your online self and real self are without a doubt one of them. These new technologies are great in countless aspects and have propelled us toward the future but there comes a point where discretion and modesty should be used. To be too deeply entrenched in these things can be a massive waste of time and negatively affect someone in more than one way. It has become too easy to be overexposed by the mass of opinions and personalities online. We’ve already got plenty of that with real life interactions. There are definitely times when these technologies should be used but it’s our responsibility to decide when and where they are appropriate.

            We all must remember that you can’t just swipe and click to sign out real life. The things we say and post online can have many adverse effects on your real and personal life and as a people we’ve got to learn that some things are better left unsaid or kept to one’s self instead of expressed in a status update or tweet. Technology is supposed to be a sign of progression and innovation but if overused can become a serious crutch to society and lead to three steps forward and one step back. Moderation is the key here. Technology is like a ladder toward greatness, it can be climbed to proceed higher but if we weigh too heavily on each step, it can break and become our imminent downfall.

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