The Black Hole of Technology

The black hole of endless, unimportant streams of technology-enabled information is devouring everyone living in the 21st century. No matter how much people may look at information, it does not mean they are absorbing it. Equating quality with speed and volume, people may read thousands of news headlines broadcasted across the world daily, yet they will forget them in a couple of hours. No one stops to process information anymore to determine its significance or importance. No one appreciates the value of personal interaction or nature. Everything is go, go, go. Not once do we stop. Before being introduced to my phone and computer, I had been more appreciative of the world around me. Now, I'm always consumed by my "tech," and I never stop to take a break.

"Did you guys see what Miley Cyrus posted?" My friend Fouly only peeled her eyes away from her iPhone screen to ask us that question. I glanced around at my friends, and they all quickly checked Instagram in the hopes that they hadn't missed Miley's latest update. I, on the other hand, glimpsed out the window separating us from the beautiful weather outside. We were 15 friends sitting inside under artificial lighting and our hands glued to our phones on a Friday, when the enticing warmth of the sun and delicate breeze was begging us to run around outside. Of course, our ears were deaf to nature's pleas, just like any other teenager nowadays. I only put my phone down to shut the curtains, then I continued to mindlessly scroll through Miley's Instagram page.

I found myself longing for that Instagram page a week later, in an entirely different country. The scorching sun baked the back of my neck as my family and I walked along the wide, crowded dirt path on our way to visit yet another Cambodian temple. I slipped my phone out of my bag to check for signal, but before I could even unlock it, it was snatched out of my hands.

"Leena, you're heading toward one of the most well preserved ancient wonders in the world. It would do you well to appreciate your surroundings!" My dad scolded.

My phone was wailing at me from the tight grip his hands had on it, but I had no choice but to ignore it, like I had been forced to do for the entire fall break. Huffing, I looked up and drank in our surroundings. There were tents perched up on the sides of the sandy roads, and a couple of half-naked boys were jumping into a murky lake nearby. A toddler was laughing her head off, playing with an old man who I assumed was her grandfather. I missed all of this liveliness, the beauty of a community, all because I was trapped in the black hole of technology. Everyone around me was smiling, despite having to live their lives in poverty. Then I noticed something I hadn't before: no one had a cellphone on them. There were no TVs, no radios, and their music came from live instruments instead of mp3 players and iPods. These people had nothing. Some of them were even walking around without shoes! How could they look so happy? Then I thought... Maybe it's because they don't have all that modern technology. They aren't subjected to the black hole of endless information.

I carried my insightful observations all the way to the temple, and my breath caught in my throat when we reached there. It was stunning. When the guide started a long speech on the origin of the temple, I turned to face him. Then I realized I was inside of the black hole again. I was paying attention to the information the guide was throwing at me instead of also recognizing this once-in-a-lifetime experience. When would I be able to visit one of the seven wonders of the historical world again? The answer was pretty clear, so keeping one ear with the guide, and turning the rest of me to the temple, I soaked in the extraordinary sight before me. For once, I wasn't digesting useless information that isn't significant whatsoever. I wasn't typing into my phone, or watching any screen at all. In a life of go, go, gos I had finally stopped.

It was then that I vowed that next time my friends and I are absorbed into our phones on a sunny day, I wouldn't close the curtains. Next time I'm walking along any road, I'll value my surroundings instead of texting on a device. From now on, I will make sure that the endless information flying my way won't go in one ear and out the other. I will find the significance in things and recognize it, because that's something many people fail to do -- by falling into the technology trap. Escape the black hole of technology, because when you feel free.