[computer]If I learned one thing in college, it’s that too much of a good thing can equal a really, really bad thing. This lesson may have taken some time to set in, but I eventually realized that overkill applies to more than just boozing and eating six meals a day at the caf. As our generation comes to rely more and more on computers and related gadgets, this philosophy applies to technology.
Technology is great to a certain extent – computers help us do things our elders could have only imagined – but maybe the consequences of this technology are not worth it, because it is single-handedly ruining my life. It’s probably doing the same to yours.
It’s not just the Internet either; constant exposure to technology in our lives in the form of car audio systems, cell phones and cranked-up iPods are ruining our bodies. We all know cell phones have been linked to cancer (even if we don’t know it’s true), and using them while driving increases the odds of driving into a Smart Bus full of senior citizens. Blaring music through sound systems and blasting tunes through iPod headphones ruin hearing. However, most college students cherish these technologies. Some may call this a personal problem, but most students are guilty of this abuse, especially the people who text message constantly because they can’t hear on the phone because they eat, sleep, go to class, work out, drive, shower, fornicate, put-up drywall and teach underprivileged students to read all the while listening to their iPods.
While I’m not one of those people, I question how people lived without these technologies. I can’t believe I survived high school without Facebook, without text messaging, without owning a cell phone. I don’t know when this obsession with technology began – heck, I don’t even know what Bluetooth means – but I need to figure it out soon because I’m sure I’m going to run into the network in the near future once it becomes Facebook-compatible. I also don’t know if this technology thing is ever going to stop; it may just spiral out of control and take over our lives, assuming that hasn’t already happened.
I don’t understand how I can be blamed for spending hours on end watching shows from that TV Links Web site. I once watched the entire first two seasons of Prison Break, in order, in eight days – which shows you that I have no self-control and therefore cannot be held responsible for poor-time management due to technology.
[newsfeed]Beyond the current problem of me neglecting my studies, my girlfriend and my job search to watch the complete seasons of 24 and The Sopranos, it is very likely Internet technology is killing our bodies, and at a faster rate than we can kill them with alcohol or the Atkins diet. Years ago, my optometrist told me I had perfect eyesight, but last spring, the doctors at the Olin Health Center said I could probably use some glasses. First, we could assume one should never take advice from a doctor at Olin, or we could agree that frivolously typing away online all day in front of a bright LCD monitor is slowly burning my retinas. As for my ears, I sometimes feel like I can’t hear who I’m talking to on the other end of the phone. This isn’t because my receiver volume is turned down low; it’s because years of routing my music through earphones or subwoofers has probably made my ears implode. And chances are many other students also are turning their eyes, ears and brains to pudding.
American’s obsession with technology isn’t simply a collegiate fad either. Teenagers and baby-boomers are all taking part of the technology revolution that is growing exponentially.
“I spend a vast amount of time online, have a Facebook account and love You Tubing and Googling,” mass media professor Garry Gilbert said. “I enjoy access to an astonishing amount of information from my kitchen table: I can read The New York Times online, listen to a BBC broadcast, check sports scores that are updated every 60 seconds, or use news.google.com to link to news organizations around the world that I didn\’t know existed and certainly would never have sampled.”
While Gilbert embraced technology in his life, he also weighed the ups and downs of its presence. The access to the Internet has not only pervaded university housing and buildings: many students have adopted the practice of toting personal computers all over campus.
“Do we waste time online? Do we abuse it? Sure, no doubt,” Gilbert said. “In my classes, many students are bringing laptops. Are they carefully taking notes, instant messaging their friends or checking their Facebook accounts? Twenty years ago, students doodled, hand wrote notes to friends, secretly read magazines or trashy novels, or daydreamed while in class. Are we better off than 15 years ago? I\’d say emphatically yes. While the net makes it easy for us to spend time on social networks, downloading songs, playing poker, or whatever, the ready access to mountains of news and information is more than a counterbalance.”
[phone]There are mountains of information at everyone’s fingertips, but like many college students, when given the opportunity to surf the Internet, I fail to do anything productive. I can’t think of one legitimate reason MySpace exists, but I still can’t keep myself away from it. My profile tells the world I’m there for networking, but the only people trying to network with me are the underground punk bands, strippers and adult film stars who keep sending me friend requests. I try to convince myself it’s an avenue where I can catch up with old friends, but in most cases, when I click on a friend’s profile, the mismanaged gadgets, random graphics, music videos and picture slideshows flash uncontrollably until I have a seizure.
Despite all the inconveniences, I keep coming back to MySpace every day. The same with Facebook – the sites are like cyber-cocaine, except the only known side effects to date are detrimental grades and becoming nearsighted. There are advocacy groups all over America fighting against smoking, drinking and drug use, but not one against Web sites with eye-irritating layouts, addicting content or borderline stalkerish databases.
[media2]He may not know what a quail looks like, but Facebook founder Mark Zuckerburg knows your class schedule and where you live. He’s using that information as we speak to break into your apartment and steal your new Nintendo Wii. He’s also making a move on your girlfriend, because he knows she likes boxed wine and watching Grey’s Anatomy. And guess what? He knows where she lives, too. I know he sounds like Santa, because Zuckerburg is making these news feed lists and people are checking them more than twice. Facebook knows what events I’m attending, who’s in pictures with me and in the near future, I’m sure Facebook will send out messages to the MSU community every time I visit the bathroom. You don’t need to know that, just like I don’t need to know that you’re attending a Pirate Party at Pi Kappa Phi this weekend.
“Facebook, in some aspects, is a good way to keep in touch with people and see what your friends are up to,” English senior Lauren Gadoua said. “In another aspect, it is useless and a waste of time. It can be an invasion of privacy. I don\’t think I’m the only person who doesn\’t want to be tagged in a drunken embarrassing picture for the whole Facebook world to see.”
Not only does the entire Facebook community see such drunken pictures, it also knows our birthdays, hobbies, job histories and political affiliations, it knows where we’ll be Friday night, who we will be with, and what brand of vodka we will be drinking. A reader may think this is a silly rant about a harmless Internet site, but consider the statistics before jumping to conclusions about my sanity.
“Facebook has 17 million users, half of which return daily,” Meredith Chin, junior public relations director, said. “People spend an average of 20 minutes on the site daily, making it the sixth-most trafficked site in the United States.”
Chin added user privacy has always been a top priority for Facebook. In fact, Facebook has worked with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, has hired a chief privacy officer and is TrustE certified.
Regardless of their efforts, sites like Facebook or MySpace that contain facts about my entire life on one page make me wonder if it’s even worth it to put out my information. Computers can be used to do beneficial things, like produce academic works, but in the past, the mechanism has made my eyes water, cramped my fingers and strangled my wrists. I wonder if it would be easier in the long run to write it out with pen and paper like people did before word processors. I wonder if I’m gaining anything by getting my news online instead of in print, or if it’s better I can now watch any television show in the history of the world online. I wonder if I could actually stop doing any of these things, and I really don’t know. The whole concept is just as confusing, as the technology craze is to Gilbert.
“The only thing I don\’t understand is teenagers\’ obsession with text messaging,” Gilbert said. “This…is a colossal waste of time compared to simply making a phone call and having a conversation with somebody.”
A colossal waste of time seems to be a summary of my life considering all the time I waste with online databases and other websites. Yes, I’m about two chapters behind in reading for my classes and my resume could use some tweaking, but honestly, I’d rather look at a list of who commented on someone’s wall in the last seventeen minutes than do anything remotely productive. As much as I know Facebook ultimately serves no purpose other than providing entertainment, there’s no way I will ever stop Facebooking. Maybe I’ll have to block my profile so potential employers won’t find out what I really did in college, but I figure when I run for president in 2024, the truth will come out anyway.
Until then, I’m going to keep posting on walls, watching videos and stalking friends online because it’s an undeniable part of life. George Orwell may have been right when he said Big Brother is watching, but we’re too lazy and stubborn to acknowledge it. Of course, by the time all of our faults are discovered, we probably won’t be able to see or hear. We’ll have to create a user name and password to log in to our brains in order to understand it anyway.

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