Welcome to Cyber-Reality

I’m tired of using technology. While the world generally views the internet as an advancement, I see it as a step back for society. Hollywood speculates about the day we become so dependent upon technologythat robots take over the world,but that day has long passed. We live in the era of tech-supremacy, where the average human uses 30,000 watts of electricity and spends five hours online daily. This is pathetic. It was only half a century ago that research began at the library, that reputations were built through actions and that romance began in the flesh. Now friends are made with pokes or requests rather than smiles, and I am scared. I am scared of this age because it may represent the end of human civilization. Well, let me rephrase. Human civilization is not ending — it is simply declining. We are growing lazy. Technology does for us what human contact and effort has done in the past. Every great project now begins in front of a screen. A few hours of Facebook data-base maintenance can get more people concerned than Chinese human rights violations in Tibet. We are dependent. It’s as if without technology we have no friends, no connections, no joie de vivre. We depend on our IBN codes and our iPod megabytes and our nine speed dial buttons. We’ve given the machines the upper hand. You see it everywhere; the cell phones being answered at the dinner table, the Blackberries stealing parents from their kids, the headphones plugged in on the paths, the glazed-eye YouTube fiends in the PACC, the undeniable death grip technology holds over us all. When does it stop? I fear the day I communicate with my children through Facebook. I am scared of my dependency on YouTube for news updates. I think of all the documents I have stored in this little silver box and I cringe at the thought of losing it all with the touch of a button. That’s the thing about technology; a few clicks will get you far, but the touch of a button can take it all away. Yet I’m not willing to give all these wires up, because I would quite literally be left out of the loop. No more breaking news, no more doublespaced English papers, no more digital photos from home, no more IMing around the globe, no more Phillipian commentary articles. Everything would come to a screeching halt. Technology has become our fuel, our wheels — you can try to destroy it or live without, but you’re only stopping yourself. So what do we do? How do we keep a balance between virtual reality and actual reality as the lines become more and more distorted, turning into 0s and 1s? For all the beauty technology has to offer as the international web linking us all together, there is just as much ugliness to counteract all that potential it holds. There is Facebook, where we list our interests in hopes that someone will find us interesting. There is Myspace, where we put up self-taken photos in hopes that someone will comment. There is JuicyCampus, featured in last week’s Phillipian, where we gossip and slander in hopes of staying in tune with the latest. There is AIM, where we talk for hours with the kid who lives on our hall. I hope your brains have not been entirely swapped for data cards. I hope you can see the laziness, unproductiveness and dependency technology has the power to instill in us all. And I hope we do something about it, like getting off our derrieres and spending time outside rather than huddling around an iMac in the Garver Room. Let’s keep life journals instead of LiveJournals. Let’s find harmony, not eHarmony. Let’s love in the most human sense possible. Let’s meet your friends face-to-face, not just Facebook-to-Facebook. Let’s read books and newspapers instead of Perez Hilton’s blog. I hope that our generation can recapture the beauty of the physical world. I wonder if Michelangelo would have painted the Sistine Chapel if he could have been playing Halo, or if Bronte would have written Jane Eyre if she had movies to watch on her iPod nano instead. I wonder if Warhol would have been able to observe human nature from the outside if he had a Blackberry to keep him constantly in tune, or if Shakespeare would have written his sonnets if he had had a Myspace page to update instead. I wonder if Socrates would have asked so many questions if Google were available to provide him with faster answers. It’s sad to think of all the greatness our generation might miss out on because we’re all too busy writing on each other’s walls. Technology has a lot to offer us, butif we want to win the battle against the machines, we better make sure we don’t become robots ourselves. Jenn Schaffer is a two-year Lower.