OPINION: Technology becoming substitute for life

(Illustration by Savannah Thaemert | The Collegian)

Technology is one of those material items we always want more of. We see it with cellphones, computers and even watches now. They are always upgrading, adding something new and becoming better. Of course, this only happens because consumers are there waiting hours in lines the day devices are launched to get the newest technology possible.

In the past, people kept their realities separate from one another. Whether it be work, home, vacations or churches, their activities would never mix. This way of life gave people a chance to re-energize before doing something else, giving people more time to think, appreciate, focus and most importantly, live, according to Daniel Burrus in his Wired.com article, “Is technology helping or hurting your relationships?

At some point, however, bridges were built between the once separate realities, consequently resulting in activities intertwining. The time to think, appreciate and focus has been taken away by the subconscious need to balance these different realities. I like to refer to these bridges as technology.

People on vacation are taking conference calls, time in church is spent scrolling through Twitter and dinner time is spent with Facebook instead of our families.

While technology can make staying connected easier, it is giving people a free pass to substitute in-person interactions with virtual conversations, according to Shelley Bonanno in Psych Central article, “Social media’s impact on relationships.”

“There is no question the Internet has offered many a convenient way to locate, reconnect and rekindle relationships that otherwise may have been lost,” Bonanno said. “Many question the superficiality of such ‘friendships,’ which often leave one frustrated, lonely and struggling to connect on a deeper, more emotionally meaningful level.”

Technology allows us to share our lives with other people, however, there has to be a limit in how much we are sharing with the world. There needs to be a balance between chatting with your “friends and followers” and actually having a conversation with someone who knows and cares for you.

Having family and friends living four flights and more than a day away from me, technology has become a big part of my life. FaceTiming is a habitual activity and other forms of social media allow me to keep in touch with all the people I have left behind by coming to the U.S.

Technology makes the world we know more advanced and more efficient, but if this privilege is abused, it can make us lonelier, stressed and sometimes even unhappy.

“Studies and personal experience reveal (that) people tend to put their best foot forward while interacting on social media,” Bonanno said. “Displays of emotional weakness, insecurity or conflicts generally tend to be concealed or minimized on social networking sites.”

While technology can offer brief moments of relief from everyday struggles, it lacks the ability to form deep connections because a piece of us is taken away whenever we assume the role of our virtual selves.

“The Internet is so big, so powerful and so pointless that for some people it is a complete substitute for life,” British journalist Andrew Brown said.

We need to know when it is the right time to utilize the bridges connecting our realities, and when it is time to block them. So, connect through Facebook but also through a cup of coffee with an old friend. Find times to do what you have to and other times for what you want to. FaceTime or Skype someone, but then go out to the park, look at the sky for a while and think, appreciate, focus and most importantly, live.