Maggie Smith / Uncategorized

Tearing Ourselves Away from Technology (Maggie Smith)

Flickr Creative Commons // Veronica Belmont

The newest version of Apple’s iPad launched on Friday, March 16, and I am trying to understand what all the hype is about. I’ve never been a big fan of Apple. I’ve never had the urge to keep up with the latest technological innovations. I don’t even know for sure what version of the iPhone we’re on now. (Is it still iPhone 4?) I bought the first cell phone I have ever owned in November of last year, and it’s a great little gadget and all that, but I still forget I have it sometimes. I don’t own a laptop; my desktop computer is enormous, salvaged from a bunch of different scraps. It works fine; it does word processing; I can get on the Internet with it and that’s all I need it for. I’ve never been a technology guru.

Everybody knows that the moment the newest piece of technology comes out, there’s going to be a mad scramble to get it and test out all the new features. Sometimes there are even riots, as evidenced by the release of the iPhone 4S (Oh, so that’s the model number we’re on now!) in China back in January of this year. Things got so out of control that Apple had to stop sales of the device. In a way, the hype surrounding the iPhone on its release date with Apple stepping in to keep everything under control might be a very good marketing device. If there are people fighting over this gadget, then it must really be something special.

We can have all the gadgets in the world to bring us convenience, fun and safety, but at the end of the day, they’re still not worth all the hype, especially since they will be easily replaced by the newest model or the next biggest trend in swiftly coming months. Sometimes it’s good to take a break from all the technology in our lives and spend some time doing something that doesn’t require electronic devices. Instead of texting, calling or Skyping our friends, why not make plans to spend some face-to-face time?

There are schools and universities around the United States that have sponsored “No Technology” days, in which students are asked to give up all of their electronic devices for 24 hours. In 2010, the ICMPA (International Center for Media and the Public Agenda) hosted one of these technology-free days at the University of Maryland in order to do a study on how students felt without being able to use their cell phones or social media. “The student responses to the assignment showed… that students’ lives are wired together in such ways that opting out of that communication pattern would be tantamount to renouncing a social life,” the article says. That seems pretty scary to me. After all, how did we have social lives before social media and cell phones?

Perhaps studies like this one should be a type of wake-up call to not just students, but to people all over the world. Why not take 24 hours without your cell phone, laptop, iPod or any other technological devices, and see how it makes you feel? You might discover something about yourself, and about the real value of technology versus face-to-face time.

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