Connecting But Not Connected

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One can see something in such a vastly different picture as a result of a minor change in habit. For me, this realization happened as a result of my day without technology. I was gathered at a school camp in which there were thousands of activities to do, yet, more often than not, people felt more inclined to interact with the electronic world rather than the world waiting right in front of them. Amazingly, I had never been so perplexed yet aware of this phenomenon than in that very moment. What I noticed?...That most people are unaware. It's not that people weren't interacting, friends were hiking, canoeing, swimming, etc., but intertwined with that idea is the need for photographs, selfies, status updates, and other miscellaneous and routine operations that have been engrained in our culture as humans.

We are unaware to the extent in which every action is connected to technology, almost like an unconscious drive for which there is no way out. I am a prisoner to this system as well. On a usual day, I would check my phone first thing in the morning, relying on this technological device to not only wake me up, but give me an entire rundown on what I would do for the day, saying things like, "Siri, what's the weather like? What do I have on my calendar for today?" The self reliance on myself to do a simple task such as get up out of bed has been granted to a cyborg voice who directs my entire life. Siri too was a burden on my independence, without even realizing it.

For example, in this day and age, it is almost impossible to be able to get in touch with fellow peers without the ability to use a cellphone. Almost every meet up I have with friends is initiated with a text, "Hey, what's up?"

I spent the next day at school people watching, and the experience was eye opening. Throughout that day, I seldom went 15 seconds without seeing an individual in my classes looking at their phones. Technology and media has not only become a way of leisure and interaction, but a way in which we research, learn, define, and reason. As a society it is media that helps define who we are, whether that be how we are perceived by others, what we believe in, or who we support. In times without mediation it makes me wonder how much of my beliefs are tied to what I was exposed to at different points in my life. All around us is media tilted each and every way, all intended to make us behave a certain way, buy a certain product, or vote for a particular candidate. After participating in this experiment, I tend to more intently question how media sources are aiming to scare their viewers. We must be able to separate skewed media sources from our true values which we cherish most.

As my second day attempting this project continued, I suddenly seemed different than everybody else. I found myself to be a better listener throughout this journey, more intently interested in conversations than I had been previously. Moreover, I felt increasingly annoyed with my peers who paused a conversation because they had received a notification on their phones. Patiently waiting for their break to be over, I came to realize whether our relationships with our peers, family members, and significant others are damaged and to what degree? All of us are connecting on an everyday basis, whether that be liking someones Facebook post, sending them a text message, commenting on their picture on Instagram, sending them a Snapchat, etc., but are we really connected?

Technology is a tool that can be used to make ones life more efficient and entertaining to some degree, but from my time spent without it, I have learned that when trying to connect with my peers, a mere "Hello!" face to face with a friend brings so much more joy than a text message on a lit up screen. As the world continues to progress towards new technology and advancement, we must forever cherish moments that humanize our way of life, for which will you remember most in 20 years, your relationships with your loved ones, or the Donald Trump tweet appearing on your phone?