Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Technologically Torn

If you call my cell phone, but reach my voice mail, don't be surprised. Chances are my Samsung is vibrating somewhere in vain. It may be abandoned in yesterday's coat pocket, lodged between a couch cushion, or left plugged into the charger. The truth is my roommate often has a better idea of where my cellular device might be than I do. I never did understand why so many of my friends nearly break their neck in the process of running to the phone whenever it rings.

I admit my aversion for cell phones is a bit unusual for a 20 year old. My friends and family are constantly getting on me about being so “unavailable” in the age of communication. I must agree that sometimes they are right. It's not that I'm completely technologically inept or antisocial; it's just that I don't understand why people act as if there was never a time when cell phones did not exist. I know that technology is becoming increasingly more important in our world. Despite, much of what I’ve just said, I have really grown to like technology in most cases. I enjoy the convenience of my laptop and the entertainment of my iPod. But maybe my rebellion against cell phones is just me being an old soul and appreciating a time when you couldn't be tracked down by the Nokia on your belt loop and life was a bit more “real”.

Beyond my cell phone discussion, I guess my point is that I would like to view technology as an extension of human ability. Unfortunately, I feel that many times there is a point at which technology handicaps people because it makes “knowing,” “experiencing,” and “physically doing” less important. People are less compelled to talk to a person face to face because they feel the same objective can be met by simply talking to them over the phone. There will be a conclusion to a discussion either way, but are the results really the same. I would argue that they are not.

A few weeks ago one of my classmates brought up a really great question. She asked, "Whatever happened to Mozart and the people who were writing symphonies at 12?" She went on to say that she felt as if people were growing progressively less interesting as they became glued to video games and computer screens. My first thought regarding this comment was that the world has never had many Mozarts and that’s why we remember his name more than two centuries later. None the less, her words rang with an air of truth. After listening to her thoughts and reading another classmate’s (Andrew Orndorff) convincing rebuttal, I’ve come to the conclusion that I am technologically torn. Technology has its pros and cons and there are definitely situations when it is difficult to determine which side outweighs the other.

Perhaps the greatest example I can give of how technology has the ability to rob us and help us at the same time involves physical education in school. Last semester I was writing my final paper for Foundations of Education on the declining health of American children and I came across an article entitled Fast-foot Fitness. I was completely shocked at what it said. According to this article the popular video arcade game known as Dance Dance Revolution, or DDR, will become a mandatory part of the physical education curriculum in West Virginia’s 753 public schools by the end of 2008. While I will agree that the physically challenging video game is a clever way of attacking childhood obesity, I don’t understand how educators can fully endorse children trading in their time outdoors and team jerseys to play an interactive video game. I know that the goal is to improve the health of our children, but is depriving them of fresh air and social interaction really the answer? This is just one tough question of many that the 21st century will force us to answer in regard to how technology shapes our daily lives.

Lash, Cindi. "Fast-Foot Fitness." Post-Gazette.Com. 4 June 2006. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. .


Durff said...

I agree with your aversion to cell phones. I much prefer Skype.
Technology is a tool and cannot become an end in itself. As humans, we are thrive in relationship and cannot neglect their cultivation to glow in front of any screen.

jcam said...

Thanks for your comment. It's nice to know that others feel the same way.