This Christmas you probably got a new iPod Nano, a laptop with high-speed wireless Internet access or maybe some other piece of technology to add to your shiny collection. But the only thing those high-priced trinkets will increase is your im-personality.
Today we live in a society that is disgustingly dependent on technology, which causes us to lose the value of human interactions. I have suddenly found myself a technological minority. I own nothing produced by Apple. I am one of the select few who does not walk around campus with white chunks of plastic shoved into my ears, successfully avoiding the exchange of a friendly hello with a pleasant stranger. In fact, most of the time, these walking rockers are so into their tunes they can\’t even return a polite smile. Granted, most people avoid eye contact with fellow students braving the harsh weather, whether they have an iPod or not.
So to compensate for this lack of communication with strangers, electronics companies have increased the ease with which Americans can talk to their friends and loved ones. It’s just too bad this talk has taken the shape of a keyboard and number pad. AOL Instant Messenger (AIM) has become an obsession of many. Here at MSU, many of us use it as a procrastination tool, but have we become dependent upon it?
As soon as AIM was released, I created a clever screen name and began chatting away. “It’s the coolest thing ever,” I explained to my parents. “Yes, but Lydia, why don’t you just call your friends instead?” they asked, confused. Our preceding generation just didn’t get it. This was a way for me to talk to five of my friends simultaneously instead of just one at a time. Slowly, as I got older I began my unhealthy obsession. Every hour I would sign on, just to see who was online. Keep in mind this is when I had the prehistoric version of Internet that many of us refer to as “dial-up connection.” Then I began noticing AIM wasn’t bringing me closer to any of my friends. I believe everyone began realizing at the same time AIM was a great way to have those conversations we all know should be held in person, but instead hide behind the computer screen to avoid confrontation. This way, there was no scary potential of yelling, no observations of hurt feelings and any tears that were shed didn’t really exist because all you had to face was a computer screen and the incongruously upbeat chime of an incoming message.
I recall one of my relationships, back in my freshman year of high school, began online. He asked me out over the Internet and a couple months later, broke up with me the same way. I blamed the entire situation on his immaturity, not on being reliant on the Internet and other impersonal forms of communication. Now, I have settled on the latter theory – dependence on avoiding confrontation by using AIM. It hit me the day my best friend told me her boyfriend of three years had just broken up with her. I was devastated for her. But then she told me he did it over AIM and I almost threw up! After three years of a loving, open relationship he resorted to the Internet in order to avoid a real life confrontation.
The level of impersonality doesn’t end there. Oh, no. The dorms are a very special place to live. Brochures insist there is a great feeling of community in them. It’s too bad that sense of community has made a drastic jump into the technological realm. Floormates have resorted to messaging one another rather than walking two feet across the hall to hold their conversations. And worse yet, people who are sitting in the same room and live in very close quarters find it necessary to message each other. Is it just me, or is this absolutely ridiculous? As my friend Kathleen pointed out: if you can hear each other’s typing, you can probably hear each other’s voices.
I fear the day when people decide to give up talking and seeing each other altogether and we live in a world in which the only sounds we hear are the humming of machines and the clicking of keyboards. I mean, even our telephones give us an option to talk on them or not. There’s no need to call someone and hear a voice, you can just send a text message.
And here’s the kicker, folks! Our dependence on technology is beginning to spread into all areas of our lives. My friend Valerie and I were discussing our deep obsessions with procrastination tools, such as Facebook and Livejournal, when she mentioned her obsession with “I check the weather about every 10 minutes,” she said in all seriousness. I looked at her blankly and asked, “But, Valerie, why don’t you just look out the window?” She stood there silently for a moment and then laughed upon realizing how absurd she sounded.
We have grown up in a world that is technologically advancing more and more every second. These advances are quickly consuming us. We depend on it in so many ways, and while we are under the impression that we are becoming closer to our friends and family, we are really only cutting ourselves off from the personal interactions that keep us human.

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