[1]You woke up 10 minutes ago to the sound of the newest ringer you have downloaded on your cell phone, KT Tunstall’s Black Horse and a Cherry Tree. You drag yourself to your computer chair where you begin checking away messages on AIM – most of which probably read “sleeping.” Next up, logging into MSU web mail where you have three friends awaiting your request on Facebook. It’s off to cyberland where you meet up with your online poker pals and start an early game of poker before packing up your books and iPod and heading off to class.
Technology is proving to have control over us as humans, not necessarily the other way around. We created it, we control it and its functions, and yet it controls us. It determines our love lives, friends, how we talk to friends and how strong our relationships can be depending on how much we allow technology to do. We cannot get away from it, and if we could for long enough, we may decide we cannot live without it. Whether you believe it or not, technology has got a plan for us and everyone we have ever had a relationship with.
Saturday, March 4, 10:30 a.m. The Tallahassee airport, waiting to board a plane to Miami for fun in the sun (spring break style). While sitting with my mom and dad at our boarding gate, my dad whips out his iMac. Not ten minutes go by before the pilot of our outgoing flight introduces himself and they begin a “friendship” because of this computer. It turns out that the pilot was thinking of investing in one himself, but was still using Windows and was unsure about making the switch. The two talked for almost thirty minutes about nothing but new Apple stuff. They will probably never speak again, but for that half hour in the airport they became friends because of technology they had in common.
But many people, not just dads, seem to have an undying love affair with new gadgets and the latest advancement in anything involving technology. For Jeremy Dillavou, it’s his job to be ahead of the technological curve. He is a double agent for the Geek Squad at Best Buy. He says that overall technology is a good thing. “I have relationships that are kept alive because of technology. If it weren’t for Myspace I wouldn’t be updated on old friends,” Dillavou said. “Because of computer technology you can ‘meet up’ or be updated without calling or actually meeting up – it’s a short cut.”
Some keep in touch via Myspace or Facebook, while others rely on online video games to enhance their social lives. Marine Biology freshman Brian Smith has what he calls ‘online friends’. “You make friends with some people and put them on a friends list then when they get online and play the game you’re playing, you can talk to them and meet up in the game if you want to,” Smith said. His roommate, Jason Mathis, thinks it’s cool to interact with all kinds of people through online video games. “You can meet people from all around the world.” So whether you can see them or not, the fact that you are connected to them through the Internet and can talk to them with a headset is enough to keep the online friendship alive.[2]
Chris Lee, a second year student at LCC says, “You have a totally different group of friends online. You play games with these people and you form relationships based on games you play with them.”
Thursday March 8, 8:46 p.m. “Oh my gosh, they’re coming out with an even better BlackBerry than that one, you have got to see it!” These were the first words out of my flight-mate’s mouth when he saw that the girl to his right was powering her Blackberry into the off position as our plane was about to leave the Memphis airport. Because of this amazing little device, I was entertained for almost the duration of our one-and-a-half hour flight. The two struck up not only an intense conversation, but also a relationship because of their almost matching omni-cellular devices. These two could still be emailing each other everyday via Blackberry; heck, they could be engaged and planning their wedding by now.
After a few days outside the realm of reality under the much-needed rays of the Florida sun, I was blindsided when I realized how much we depend on technology. We depend on it to communicate with others and to make sure we know what time our flight departure is. We even “need” it for entertainment. Everywhere you go, everyone has an iPod or mp3 player of some sort. No college student in his right mind can leave home without some sort of wireless entertainment attached to his hip. We have relationships with technology itself, which in turn lead to developing real ones because of technology.
During my reflection on the past week I had spent away from my cell phone (which meant away from text messaging and online weather/sports updates), reality also began to set in and I had to face the fact that I was about to enter back into a fast paced world.
While the guy on the plane probably wasn’t using his new communication device solely as a form of getting a date with a complete stranger, it isn’t surprising the lengths people will go to get a date. Advertising junior Andrea Paul was at the main library studying for an econ exam and was unexpectedly approached by two men. “Hey, you wanna go to the bar?” guy number 1 asked. “I’m at the library because I’m studying,” said Paul. “I’m not going to the bar tonight but maybe some other time,” she continued. She gave him her number anticipating there would be another opportunity to hang out. Not 20 minutes later, she received a text message from the same guy, while he was at the bar. It read, “Ur missing outJ.” What a way to get her attention. “I haven’t actually spoken with him since,” Paul said of her library admirer.
As far as couples go, technology can make or break a relationship. Marketing junior Chase Salas says he chatted online with a girl who he ended up meeting and hanging out with. “I definitely think relationships can start online and I know they can actually end up working out,” said Salas. [3]
Political science sophomore Georg Schuttler’s experience did not seem to work out as nicely as he hoped. He was at Cedar Point with another friend and they met a girl who they ended up hanging out with. Turns out she had a crush on Georg and she gave him her phone number. She decided they should start texting, but unknowingly made the mistake of typing a message to Georg that read, “I know I text George (spelling his name incorrectly), but I really like you.”
“She needs to learn to keep her boyfriends straight,” Schuttler said of the snafus.
Monday, March 13, 12:27 p.m. The people on the way to class would rather converse with their iPod than with each other. Chances are, if people are talking to each other on their way to class it’s because they are asking their iPod-mate at the bus stop about their music selection. People at the crosswalk seem to live by a do-what-you-can-to-pass-the-time-in-the-quickest-possible-way philosophy. Everyone, and I mean everyone, seems to be utilizing a phone, listening to music or if they are incredibly into the latest and greatest advancement in the technological world, possibly viewing a movie on their video iPod.
The world of technology has allowed us to use things like a web cam to communicate and feel closer to a friend who might be 500 miles away. It has also aided in the personal feeling you get from conversing with someone. But it allows us to talk without tone and send monotone messages that can be translated in many different ways. The funny thing is that even after realizing our gross dependence on technology, we still find it okay to be engulfed in every update and quirk of the latest electronic device.
In a journal of advertising research by Maura Clancey, she focuses on the effects a television has on people in the room when a set has been turned on. Her study states that when the TV is on it \”freezes everybody,\” diminishes conversation and causes everything that goes on between people to stop and might induce viewers to blot out the real world. For example, you’re watching \”Grey’s Anatomy” with friends on a Sunday night. Someone leaves the room for a minute only to return and find that anything other than something related to the show will not be accepted or acknowledged in conversation. This is a time people get together to watch a show they have been waiting all week for. There seems to be that bond that strengthens the relationship all because people watch the same show together. “It’s the end of the weekend and it’s the best show ever. Most of my friends don’t have to work on Sunday nights so it works out perfectly,” advertising senior Dana LeMire said of her “Grey’s” get-togethers.
Monday, March, 27 9:50 p.m. Signed onto the infamous AOL Instant Messenger and chatting with (long pause), my mom. She’s almost 50 (sorry if you’re reading this, Mom, but it’s for the sake of the article). This might sound crazy but it all started the day or two after moving into Akers my freshman year. I was online in no time. So was my mom. I remember receiving an instant message from a mysterious screen name: msumommie. I could not believe my eyes when I read the text in the IM box, “Meredith, it’s me, Dad downloaded this for me on my laptop so now we can talk on the computer!” As far as my mother and I are concerned, I honestly believe we have developed a stronger online relationship than on the phone.
When families are tech-saavy together they have a new bond. A new T-Mobile commercial features a mom and dad searching frantically around the house for their children. They are worried because the house is so quiet. Finally, the dad runs outside to the car screaming “you better not be doing what I think you’re doing!” He opens the door to find the kids texting and then you see the mom at the front door screaming with terror.
According to Geek Squad Agent Jeremy Dillavou, families who have a lot of technology around them have more in common. “People or families that are surrounded by technology constantly talk to each other and communicate nonstop because there is that common link.” In a way this makes things “more organized but more hectic,” said Dillavou.
Some families do not necessarily need technology to keep relationships alive. Take, for example, horticulture sophomore Daniel Lewis who looks forward to seeing his Dad because they like to relax and catch up. “We’ll go have a beer and talk and then when we get a chance we go hunting together. This is how we interact. We have things to say on the phone but rarely do we just sit and chat unless we are together doing it.”
Simply put, technology is helping those who want to be helped. Telecommunications senior Jermond Wiggins thinks because it allows things to happen at such a fast rate, it cannot be anything but good. “You can text your girlfriend and send her a picture. Then at the same time you can get back to your friends and family members and keep everyone happy.”[4]
There’s no way to get around the many ways technology affects our relationships and friendships with the ones we love. By claiming to always be one step ahead, we’ve let technology get one step ahead of us. Though we may not see what is in our future, it does. But the real failing would be to stop the human interaction that makes us, well, human; even if you have to do it with your cell or Blackberry from time to time.

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