By Taylor Galla ‘18
Opinion Poll Columnist
Technology has become so pervasive in our world that it seems that nearly everyone, no matter who you are or where you live, will come into contact with it during their lifetime. This is quite a startling claim, if one considers that a relatively short time ago many of the things that we as students now take for granted as part of our everyday lives were not even close to existing. For the purpose of this column, I am going to limit the type of technology I am discussing to phones, tablets, and laptop computers, as I am going to take a leap of faith and assume that this is the technology that most college students would think about when asked a question about their technology use.
Every morning, I wake up to an alarm on my phone, then immediately after I turn it off I check my phone for about 15 minutes or so. Then, after I am dressed, I pick up my phone again, text a few friends about breakfast and turn music on to listen to while I walk. Once I get to the dining hall, I check my phone again while I stand in line for food. Then, as I’m eating my phone is right there, ready to immediately tell me if anyone is trying to contact me. After breakfast, I listen to music on it again as I walk to class. In class, I take notes on my laptop, after class I check my phone again, and this regular and extremely prominent use continues throughout the day.
I’m sure that if many of you sat down and thought about it, you would realize that technology is not only present in our everyday lives, but that it dominates them in many ways. You need it for practical purposes like communication— and sometimes for safety— but with this comes a slippery slope of many other aspects of technology that are not as efficient or beneficial, that one can easily get drawn into.
A perfect example of this slippery slope is Facebook, as it is very useful in terms of knowing about events going on around the campuses, but it’s easy to get distracted. Someone once told me that the secret to the efficient way to use Facebook is to just check your notifications— that way, you see invites to events, photos you were tagged in and other things that just apply to you. Along with this, if you just focus on your notifications, you will not get drawn into other things that are a complete waste of your time— like most things in one’s news feed. However, I have tried this and although it does work when you do it right, it is very difficult to not see other intriguing things that do not involve you, and once you click on one thing, it’s over. You’ve lost the battle. Now, it’s picture after picture and article after article while the clock ticks away slowly— minute after minute getting closer and closer to the due date of your actual responsibilities.
I’m sure many can relate to this, and that is why I decided to conduct this poll this week and see what the Scripps student body had to say about technology use. I did not get as many responses as I had hoped, but I believe the data I pulled is still an accurate representation of what the larger masses would have shown. I asked the question “how do you feel about your relationship to technology?” and out of the 13 responses the breakdown was as follows: three people said “I think I could benefit from improving my use of it to its full potential,” one individual chose “I feel completely satisfied with my use of it,” four people said “mostly okay, although I do waste time on it occasionally,” three people said they “want to drastically cut back on my use,” one person chose the other option and commented “I love it and it wastes all my time,” and lastly one person expressed that they “wish it was not in my life.”
As I expected with this poll, the most popular answer was the most moderate one- “mostly okay, although I do waste time on it occasionally.” I expected this because with technology, I feel that most people would fall under the category of really appreciating the efficiency it brings to their life, and also admitting some falter in terms of how they use it. As with everything, there are extremes with technology, and most people fall somewhere in the middle of those extremes. Many people eat junk food occasionally, watch an episode or two of TV when they get the time, drink moderately on the weekends, smoke a cigarette or two in their lifetime, etc. It goes back to a discussion of pleasures— everyone needs and wants them and has a relationship with them. This relationship can change and alter and is a reflection of the rest of one’s life in many ways. We all fall back on them in times of need and use them for comfort. With introspection and an awareness of healthy habits, this can be a harmless part of life. However, when the levels of use become unhealthy it is a test of not only the person’s ability to see this, but to act upon it and improve.
The second most popular choices were “I think I could benefit from improving my use of it to its full potential” and “I want to drastically cut back on my use of it.” Both of these responses display a reflection on the part of the user on the amount and/or ways that they use it. I believe many people could benefit from improving their use of it- through the use of more efficient and helpful apps, time management with the time-wasters, etc. For example, there are apps that can keep you focused, can track your steps and sleep, can help you meditate and practice self-care- and many others that have the potential to greatly improve one’s life. However, on the opposite side of the spectrum- I do not think that one can completely rid one’s life of technology, nor do I think they should. In some ways it does appear as this unstoppable force taking over our world and something of this nature tends to strike instinctive fear in people. However, it does not have to be something to be feared— it should be something one embraces just like any other human invention designed to make our lives better and easier.
Technology has endless potential— the internet is ever expanding with information that is available to anyone and everyone. One can educate oneself about anything, charity efforts can spread like wildfire and raise an incredible amount of money in an incredibly short amount of time. It can enlighten, challenge, spook, entertain and save lives. It is our own modern-day industrial revolution, and it will continue to grow and transform industries. Many of us will have jobs that have not even been created yet, and will be using tools that have not been invented yet— all because of technology. Appreciate it, limit yourself, expand yourself, and update your security settings.