COLUMN: Time to disconnect

Since the evolution of Twitter, I’ve begun to tally up the total amount of computerized mediums that we as young adults are wired to. The list is starting to add up, check it out: Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr ... the list goes on.

If you think about it, that’s really not a small list. Actually, it’s sort of lengthy, and it’s ever-growing. How many more social networking sites will be created in the future? Is there anything that they haven’t come up with yet?

And then there’s texting. No matter who you are or what type of phone you possess, texting is at least a small part of almost everyone’s life. Hell, it controls most people’s lives.

In fact, a few of those aforementioned websites rule over most people’s lives, too. I’ll be the first to admit that I log onto Facebook 20 times a day. Twitter’s a close second; I probably take a fast glance at the news feed about 15 times a day.

I know that I’m not the only one. Most people my age or around my age share the same addictions. Bored in class? Take a quick look at Instagram. There could be some interesting bathroom selfies on there. Bored at lunch? Maybe there are a few important tweets being tweeted right that second. Bored in general? Spend a few quality hours on YouTube. YouTube pretty much guarantees incessant entertainment.

Maybe it’s not just boredom that contributes to our devotion to these electronic channels. Maybe it’s something more.

The human need to be “in the loop” is my first theory. We constantly believe that we have to be tapped into the cyberspace world, or we’ll miss something.

Escapism is my second theory. A quick solution for the desire to be somewhere else is to grab your smart phone and see what’s happening on there instead. That way, a person doesn’t have to fully engage in the present.

These are factors that have contributed to the unhealthiness of Internet addictions. Why should we feel that we have to know what’s going on at every second of every day? It’s OK to not always know or to find out later.

And we shouldn’t have an escape route in the palms of our hands. For example, if you’re in a completely awkward social situation (don’t pretend you haven’t been in one), you shouldn’t be whipping out your phone and texting your friend as a means of escape. Call me old-fashioned, but the way that people used to deal with these predicaments was by using actual social skills to relieve the discomfort.

Which brings me to my concluding point: Ironically, social networks, along with texting, have actually created more alienated human beings. I fear for the seven-year-olds with iPhones. How are they ever going to learn essential communication skills that are imperative not only for making face-to-face friends, but for life in general?

And while we might have already learned those skills back in the day where we didn’t have technology in our pockets, we still have reason to be concerned. I think that a little de-wiring would be good for us. After all, there are things that are going on in real life that are far more important than the latest tweets.


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