Til tech do us part: are we too obsessed with our gadgets?
By Denise Nickerson
In the late 20th century, a widespread epidemic called independent thinking, swept the nation, affecting millions of Americans. Men and women were forced to work jobs which required them to think analytically, work without the use of a computer, write letters and painfully wait for a reply, and actual hold face-to-face conversations.
Equally as horrific, children were forced to perform unimaginable tasks, such as doing math problems without a calculator, hold and read actual textbooks, write essays with pen and paper, and were physically required to attend classes; the horror!
Independent thinking left millions of Americans with the ability to develop strong work ethics and enhanced interpersonal skills. Luckily, technology came into the picture and wiped independent thinking right off the map. Today, technology thinks for us, plans for us, works for us, etc.
You can’t walk into any commercial store, work for any business, or attend any school, without the interference of some sort of technology. In a world where virtually everything is but a touch of a finger away, I could only wonder: “What has happened to independent thinking?”
While technology has opened up an enormous window of endless possibilities, creating a world in which limits are pushed to answer the question what is, and what isn’t possible, while simultaneously creating numerous cures for diseases, technology as a whole has set human, and more importantly student, intellect back significantly. Today, many students have lost their ability to think independently due to technology.
We can open a window, feel the warm breeze on our faces, see the sun shining bright, and still run to our iPhones to see what the weather is like. Likewise, we can barely solve a basic math problem without the interference of a calculator. And why is this?
Because we rely too heavily on technology to think for us, instead of using our own knowledge to solve our problems. But it isn’t just our over-reliance on technology that has affected our inability to think for ourselves, technology as also significantly impacted other aspects of our lives including our organization/prioritization skills, and our communication skills.
Since any task can be performed virtually, it seems that students can no longer hold the responsibilities they once use to in the past. Prior to cell phones and laptops, students were required to take notes and organize their school work, which in turn sharpened their organization skills.
The more organized the student, the higher the success of their schoolwork. Likewise, before the interference of technology, students had to develop prioritization skills. According to Glace Fleming in her article “Secrets of Successful Students,” successful students take charge of their lives and balance their time between fun and work. Thus, exercising prioritization skills taught students what tasks were more important than others, and which tasks needed to be completed before others.
As a result, students would develop into more responsible and successful people. Today however, many students have lost these essential skills. Cell phones and laptops have not only prioritized and organized our lives, they have become are main priority. How many fellow students do you see in class on their phones rather
than taking notes? How many students do you searching the web rather than taking notes on their laptops?
How many times have you, caught yourself focusing more on your cell phone than class work? But these aren’t the only skills that we have allowed technology to taint; many students have also lost our sense of proper English and/or formal writing.
Since the creation of technology, and more specifically text messaging, many students have become illiterate and lost the ability to write for themselves, resulting in less formal essays or speaking as if they are sending a text message. In the article “Cn u txt?” by John Sutherland, John states texting has long been bemoaned as the downfall of the written word, and called it “penmanship for illiterates.”
Look at class for example, how many times do you sit in a classroom and have to hear a professor lecture the need to write formally or pleading for students to refer from using text language such as “lol” in discussion posts?
It’s alarming and a bit sad that us students are so use to using technology or technological talk so to speak, that all skills of formulating a proper sentence taught to us as children, have been thrown out the window.
However, some believe that texting differently from the way in which we speak and/or write formal essays is acceptable, as it is human nature. According to John McWhorter, in his article “Is Texting Killing the English Language?” people have always spoken differently from how they write and texting is actually talking with your fingers.
While this may be true, it is clear that some students can not differentiate between reality language and the virtual world language, and thus texting does cause a problem for the English Language.
While I believe that technology is a wonderful thing and without I wouldn’t even be sitting here right now writing this article, I believe that technology has some serious dangers, especially in relation to human thinking. It’s scary how technology has transformed the way we think; or the lack thereof. Technology is only going to get more advanced, make life easier for us, and think more for us.
I believe that it’s important, if not essential to bring people back into independent thinkers. And how might we do this? While we can’t stop the production of technology, we can certainly opt to not become a part of it, or at least some of it.
This could mean solving problems without the use of calculators, physically reading a book rather than using a Kindle, holding face-to-face conversations/over the phone conversations rather than just texting all the time. Little small aspects such as those, in our lives can be adjusted, and can significantly bring