The Technological Outsider | Teen Ink

The Technological Outsider

January 10, 2010
By Anonymous

The Technological Outsider

Did you know that the average teenager sends about 1,700 texts a month? Rachel in New Jersey sends around 36,660 texts a month. Her parents say that she is very involved is school activities and does very well as a student. But the questioning thing is this overuse of technology really helping all of her relationships in a positive manner? In an interview, Rachel says she had texted more to her friend that was sitting right next to her during one of her birthday parties instead of verbally communicating with her friend. Her parents have also said that she texts during dinner instead of wanting to have personal family time. So, has technology helped us socially? I believe technology has helped us communicate faster over long distances but has not helped us in a social manor.

Firstly, there is a chance that friends you meet on the internet may not be friends in reality because “The limitations of computer-mediated communication are not absolute and can be compensated for, and even turned into an advantage in some situations” (Coget and Yukata 1). What I mean by this is that people have the ability to cover their true identity and feelings by using words. This can lead to hackers, stalkers, kidnappers, and many other forms of harm that can be wrongly forced against your children, friends, and most importantly yourself. Also, since many teenagers and young adults use social clubs (Facebook) that use only words to communicate with one another, this can lead to fake feelings, blackmail, insults, bullying, cyber bullying, and many more unjust disruptions. Not only can those be done but also many times things texted can be taken the wrong way that causes problems even further.

Secondly, Neil Postman states “though new technologies may be a solution to the learning of ‘subjects,’ they work against the learning of what are called ‘social values’” (1). Personally, I know out of my own experiences that I learn better when something is taught to me verbally. That goes for athletics, school, but most importantly how to learn morals and virtues. Do you think that making a group of children watch a movie clip on morals and virtues will all of a sudden make them act appropriately? Look at the teachings Jesus. Did he just say to all the people to be good and try to live a sinless life while he just went on doing his own business? No, Jesus went out to many peoples and lands and taught righteousness not only by telling parables but showed them verbally and personally how righteousness is demonstrated properly.

Lastly, many people, especially teenagers, may develop an over obsession or addiction to these ‘social devices’. I have a couple friends who are always on Facebook through either their computers or phones. They are on it so much that they would rather type words to each rather than have a face-to-face conversion.

Now, those who believe technology has helped us socially may first argue that it has helped socially awkward people become social. Yes, in some cases, but let’s face the truth. A socially challenged person may not be socially challenged on the internet while texting to others, because instead of him/her socializing with an actual human being, he/she is really just texting to a computer screen who seems to be magically texting back without any real human interaction. But once that person enters the world of true emotions and opinions, he/she can say bye-bye to their façade of a computer screen. This accounts not only for those mentally challenged but also those with somewhat disturbing physical differences. Think about this. If you met a guy through Facebook who seemed to be a real a talkative nice guy, you would probably think he was pretty cool kid. But let’s say you saw the real guy one day at school and turns out he is really shy or has some discernable physical disability. Would you think differently about him? I know I would be a little shocked if not scared. So, if you probably felt the same way I did, do you think others are going to think the same thing?

Secondly, many iPod users believe “music deepens the experience of walking through the world, rather than detracting from it” (Harris 1). Some say that listening and sharing music allows people to express themselves. Lisa Rocket, one of “the founders of Playlist, a community of sorts for devotees of the iPod” states that “Anyone and everyone shows up at Playlist events: cross-dressing Goths, the occasional pregnant lesbian and, of course, average Londoners just looking to kick back” (Harris 1). Yes, I will admit that I like listening to my iPod and that at times may bring certain people together in harmony, but when Lisa said it brought all of those stereotypes together, don’t you think that is somewhat socially radical and possibly unhealthy to our society? Also as a result of the iPod “Interaction between individuals is slowly diminishing as people turn to their technological devices instead of attempting to make a new acquaintance” (Song 1). Have you ever heard someone reply back “Oh, I was listening to my iPod” (Song 1)? This shows that people are becoming more socially disrespectful and less socially interactive by turning to their infamous personal electronic devices.

Lastly, they may argue that technology has helped us keep in touch with friends and family far away. That is true but how often do you actually use those methods? How long would you use those methods at a time? Mr. Bob Affonso’s “Data showed that as people...used the internet more, they reported keeping up with fewer friends. They also reported spending less time with their families” (1). This example shows that technology is not exactly an efficient stay-in-touch method.

The final point is that technology has not helped us become more socially respectable. It has actually made us more vulnerable to outside evil forces of the world along with undesirable feelings from ourselves. This can lead to loneliness, stress, and depression (Affonso 1). This could affect the behavior of adults and promote poor child care which could cause unacceptable behaviors from future children thus furthering our human race from healthy humane verbal interaction (Nie and Hillygus 1).

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