Neglectful mom vs. concerned friend

In Is Google Making Us Stupid?Carr expresses concerns about the effect of technology on the mind. It draws the conclusion that automation means less intelligence of our own, as if we are being replaced by machines.

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I feel that the larger concern is not technology itself, it is how we use it and when we use it. As mentioned in Myth of the Disconnected Life by Jason Farmon, within technology use lies a greater concern. He mentions a commercial that played on this concern, showing people ignoring their children by staring at their phones. Yes, this type of technology use is a problem. I have seen the same thing; I can still picture a mom sitting in Dunkin Donuts with her two little daughters repetitiously saying “mom” to show her their drawing, and she was still on her phone texting, responding to them abruptly with “one second”.

Between class changes, I challenge you to observe students (and faculty) walking on campus. Most people are looking down at their phones. After noticing this phenomenon (when I actually looked up from my phone myself) I shared a brief moment of similar concern to Carr. We have efficiency at the expense of other forms of interaction- with people, with literature, etc.

But- what if that mom seemingly neglecting her daughters was texting a friend across the country (or even the world) to offer condolences during a difficult time? Or what if (most) students on their phones between classes are updating family members back at home, responding to important emails about assignments, or reaching out to new friends to make stronger connections? Or maybe one is searching for the location of a building on campus if she is a lost graduate student named Krissy Cantin on the first day of graduate school.

My conclusion regarding the effects of technology is “it depends.”

As stated by two seemingly contradictory popular quotes, “too much of a good thing can be bad”, or, “too much of a good thing can be wonderful”. What do you think?

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7 thoughts on “Neglectful mom vs. concerned friend

  1. I was at a Smashing Pumpkins show over the summer – I had decent enough seats, but was still several rows back. As soon as the show started, the sideways phones went up. It was so bad I was forced to watch the opener through the screens of the phone in the hands of teh people in front of me that were so concerned with capturing a crappy video with horrible-quality audio that they missed out completely on the show itself. After a fairly heated exchange and an overt threat to confiscate phones and start slinging them onstage, they put them away.
    Why would you pay an exorbitant amount of money to sit in a dark room in front of a live band if you can’t peel yourself away from your phone long enough to enjoy, well, sitting in a dark room in front of a live band?

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    1. Aaron, I have seen myself recording concerts or things in general and later thinking: Why am I not seeing this live here in the moment? I have seen it’s almost automatic that you want to preserve that moment; I have been able to stop doing it, but still catch myself doing it once in a while. Yours is a very good point that I believe people will start noticing more and more.

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  2. Hi Kristine, I guess you nailed it with the sentence: “it depends”. I definitely agree with you, and would add a little asterisk right next to this sentence: digital literacy education is a must in contemporary world. Thanks for sharing. Cheers, yesim

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  3. Hi Kristine, I agree with you that whether technology is good or not depends on how we use it. Thank you for bringing up the phone. I used an App called Moment to track how long I will be on my phone each day, and the results surprised me. My phone did a great job on making communication much more convenient, but I also wasted a lot of time on it.

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  4. You’re absolutely correct – It depends. Everything involving humans is a series of contextual dependencies. Love or hate technology it’s here to stay so it’s important to understand where the boundaries need to be placed and how to navigate through the bombardment of distractions effectively. You need to know when to walk away from the technology as well. Setting boundaries – the mute feature on Facebook Messenger is probably one of my favorites (next to the Gamer Cat stickers).
    When used in appropriate contexts I think technology is wonderful. Unfortunately I also have to tell my finance to put her phone down regularly while we’re driving through particularly beautiful regions of the state so that she can appreciate the scenery. I think the level of connectivity we have creates and added pressure to get things done but honestly, I’d rather have my email in my pocket than be tied to my desk waiting. I can go out and live my life, check my email, respond, then go about my day.

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  5. I think “too much of a good thing can be bad”, it should always be in moderation. Like you mentioned, it all depends in how we are using the technology, when we end up completely replacing social interaction and just focusing in looking at our smartphones, tablets, etc. I believe, we start going down a path that is not helpful to society in general.

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  6. I concur, it depends. We have become so immersed in the digital realm of operational functions throughout the day, because to some extent technology revolves around much of the things we interact with, so technology has a vital role or position in our day-to-day. I think technology is a great source and lends many opportunities, but to echo what most have shared, “Too much of a good thing, can easily go awry” . I believe if used under the appropriate guidelines and conditions, then technology has a major benefit in enhancing the learning experience as well as personal.

    Great post!

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