A Few Thoughts

The following is a short essay response I wrote as a part of a series of discussions about society’s seemingly increasing dependence upon the Internet. Is it safe? Is it healthy? Have we uncovered a great thing, or is society making a mistake for its ceaseless embrace of technology?

In this response, I’ve briefly shared my thoughts about the issues in about 831 words. Tell me what you think about this topic? Are we too dependent upon the Internet, and other technologies? Share your comments below, and be sure to look at the infographic— you might be surprised at how much information is transmitted via the Internet in one day.

In the “connected” world, it seems that we are increasingly becoming dependent upon the Internet to do basic things which, for many millennia, did not even require electricity. This concept coupled with the ability to complete more tasks faster (with the help of the Internet, of course) is (in my opinion) causing people to develop a greater dependence upon Internet-mediated communications and technologies. Although I have always been a technology enthusiast, and I am always eager to learn how to use the latest technologies, I am also increasingly concerned— especially for the generation following Millennials, because it seems that while they are increasingly being exposed to, and taught how to use, some very sophisticated technologies, I am concerned that when the lights go off, and the convenience of electricity (or, any alternative power source) are not readily available, these persons will (generally) not be able to do basic things like handwrite letters, use a wall telephone,  understand that a “hashtag”, “pound” sign, and “number” sign are all the same thing, in addition to knowing that there is a such thing called a “tablet” which made of paper, and used for writing— and not only the computer device used to play games, watch movies, or to check Instagram. (Today, I had a conversation with 5th grade students about this.)

I am also concerned because I had a childhood which included me playing outside most days of the week. As I reflect on this, playing outside had me interacting with other people face-to-face and helped me to develop social and critical thinking skills. I also got plenty of exercise and even lost my childhood “chubbiness” and became physically stronger and faster. When I wasn’t playing outside, doing homework, or talking with my parents and siblings, I was playing the piano in our family sunroom (or, another one of the musical instruments I learned to create and play as a child). Even when I was studying, it rarely involved the use of a computer unless I was conducting research for a project. When studying, I mostly used books and paper, including dictionaries, thesauri, and almanacs. Although, today, my study tools and study habits have changed, and, now, the project I am completing determines which resources I will use (whether digital and/or print), I’m glad that if the Internet is not available to me, and if the lights go out, I can use paper books to do what I need because Google is only available online.

While I have many concerns about much of humanity’s increasing integration and super-dependence upon the Internet, and other technologies, I do believe that people are increasingly being exposed to information, resources, and other people, whom they would probably never know, or have, if it were not for the integration of the Internet, and other technologies, into society. The fact that citizens can communicate directly with world leaders, and customers can rate and review the products and services they’ve used on a website, are examples of how people and organizations are enabled to better meet the needs of the people they serve. My concern is that there is now an imbalance of technology and the ability to socialize and learn throughout the “connected” world partly because many people don’t seem to know how to properly integrate some new technologies (like social media, for example) into their lives.

For example, some people rely too heavily upon texting instead of using phone calls to discuss important subjects with people (like bosses). I have heard many stories of employees who don’t feel comfortable talking with their employers, and therefore, use the wrong media (like text messaging/SMS) to communicate with their bosses when trying to get clarification for a project, or to handle important transactions. And every day, I read the tweets, posts, and status updates of many teenagers who communicate their ideas through emoticons and acronyms (which are based on the English language) perfectly, but are completely confused when I ask them to write those same messages in the English language using the correct spelling, punctuation and grammar.

I didn’t graduate from high school very long ago. Computers and technology have been a very important of my life. I first started using computers when I was three years old, since then, I have learned countless topics in computers and technology, but equally important, I have learned how to speak, read, write and count— the skills and abilities needed to create the computers and technologies I use. I am concerned that the generation following Millennials (and some Millennials, as a matter of fact) will not be as intelligent as the generations before them because they do not seem to understand the importance of learning by using books, paper, pencils and their mouths communicating and learning. They don’t seem to understand that the human mind learns better when people speak, read and write as a part of the human learning and communication process better than they do (in general) when looking at a digital screen.

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