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Reflections on Technology--Blessing or Curse? (Round 1)

In light of recent events in the lives of an individual very close to me, I have spent a great deal of time contemplating the value of the advancement of technology in our lives. Does it really do more harm then good? Does it really simplify our lives? Does it create unnecessary stress? Are we becoming closed off from the world around us? If so, these are serious implications. I don't know that I can safely say I am comfortable with all of the answers I have come to. Here are my reflections thus far...

Topic #1: Facebook
I will honestly say that in most instances I could be considered a sizable fan of Facebook. I can keep in contact with friends from Texas, Indiana, Cottey, Coe, my study abroad experience in Italy, and even my host mom. I love the ability to connect with people in a different way than just an email or text. In some ways, now that I am out of college, Facebook does not seem to be a great a part of my life as it was in college. My levels of free time has changed dramatically. Time I spent avoiding homework on Facebook is no longer a feasible. That time is not spent sending out countless emails and revising a syllabus 4th time in a month and a half. I like the connections provided by Facebook. It just doesn't consume my life the same way it once did.
The main problem of Facebook for me lies in the fact that individuals who probably shouldn't be contacting you still do. Take for instance an ex who hasn't quite gotten over you. They send you a message saying "I miss you. I still love you. I just don't want to be with you." What kind of message does that send to the receiver? You love me, but not enough to be with me. I have gotten similar messages. I hated every single one of them. When you see the sender, you know you shouldn't open. For whatever ridiculous reason, you feel compelled to open it even though you know it will only bring about pain. Why must we torment one another in this way? If you break up with someone, that's it. Game's over. Now you must deal with the consequences. Once you ended things, you have no business telling the ex that you still love them and miss but have no desire to be with them. That is just completely and utterly cruel. I've had my heart broken, and the situation was only exacerbated by messages and other things I saw on Facebook. I don't need my news feed to constantly tell me what I am now missing out on but am not worth being with. It just makes an already crappy situation that much worse.
I guess what I am saying is that the internet...and Facebook in particular seems to encourage behaviors that people wouldn't engage in during a face-to-face interaction. It thoroughly frustrates me that people think it is ok for them to act as they will and cause pain to those they claim to care about. Your actions do have an impact on those around you whether you want to believe it or not. So perhaps next time you think about sending that message to an ex on Facebook, consider what the possible implications of that message will be. Don't send it just to be cruel. What if you were on the receiving it? How would you feel? Think before you push send. Once you send it, there is no taking it back.

Topic #2: E-mail
This was inspired by a recommendation that I got from a colleague about communicating with our fellow colleagues. Our society is so centered around email. The majority of my 8-15 hour work days are spent on a computer. Doing what? Sending emails. Responding to emails. Drafting emails. I am in my 20s and now beginning to have a difficult time remembering what life was like without email. Students get frustrated with me when I don't respond instantaneously to the email they sent at 10:00 pm. Excuse me for not checking my work email account after I leave work the day. After 70 hour weeks, the last thing I want to do is respond to an email.
Email controls everything we do--scheduling meetings, confirming appointments, discussing issues with students, contacting students to make up missed meetings, contacting community partners, just checking in with other people at Coe. So in response to this fixation with email, the Campus Life staff (of which I am apart) is making a concerted effort to have as much face-to-face interaction as possible. If that means making a quick trip across campus to ask a question in person or just down the hall, we try to make the effort to have that human interaction. If you can't make it there in person, you can always make a phone call. I really love having this reminder. I would much rather interact with my colleagues than be locked up in my office chained to my computer responding to email. I love the personal interactions that take place. Relationships are built and sustained. Where would you be in your life without email? Have you ever considered placing a greater importance on actually interacting with a human rather than a machine whenever possible? I highly recommend that you do. It is well worth the investment of your time. Isn't that what life is about? Relationships with one another? Give it a try and see if you notice any differences.

I have so much more I could say on this topic. I am sure there will be plenty more to come. This is just the beginning. I guess my final thoughts for tonight include
  • think about how your words/actions will impact others
  • don't do/send things online that you wouldn't be comfortable doing in person
  • make an effort to connect with people by phone or face-to-face as much as possible
  • make people a priority--not email or technology of any kind for that matter.
I am speaking as much to myself as to anyone else. Focus on people. They matter!

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