Tuesday, April 5, 2016

A Digital Barrier

Walking into the room to find all my roommates engrossed in their own personal devices is not an uncommon occurrence. 

Looking back, I remember when this was an uncommon occurrence. 

In 7th grade, students would laugh about the thought of texting someone who was next to you because, well, they are right next to you. 

Today this would not be uncommon at all, or rather it is more common to ignore the person next to you choosing to spend some quality time with Angry Birds or Candy Crush instead of other people. 

I believe that digital devices are creating a barrier between people.

 We know more about our phones then those around us. Amanda DeBus pictifies this concept in her post.  Here is Amanda's picture located on her correlating blog post. 

A few questions that exemplify this perspective. Apply these question to your life
  •  Are you constantly referring to memes or other things that you see on the internet? 
  • Can you interact with someone without referencing something from the internet? 
  • When you hang out with friends do you often end up youtubing for a couple of hours (I do!)?
  • Do you know more about your facebook friends than you know about your roommates or neighbors? 
  • When was the last time that you stood in a line without checking your phone? 
  • Have you ever ran into someone or something because your were"texting and walking", a very dangerous practice? 

If you answered yes to one or even most of these questions, don't fret, you are normal, and this is my point. The overuse or digital devices and the lack of social experiences is becoming commonplace. 
  • How often do we put digital friends, digital uses and digital needs before real friends, real life, and real people? 
The digital usage of today is a combination of the communication and entertainment developments of the past century's. 
Entertainment can be a positive thing
In the past entertainment was used to help people get along better. Rather than deteriorating social societies, entertainment was created to build social unity. 

Our current entertainment ideals in large part started during the industrial revolution. During this time movie theaters, parks and even ski slopes were created to make people happy and allowed for opportunities to socialize.

In ancient times the Romans appeased the people with entertainment options such as
stadiums and bath houses. These were given as gifts to the society and were great opportunities for people to talk. The ancient stadiums even allowed for socializing between different social classes.

Today entertainment has taken a turn toward the antisocial. Today entertainment is very impersonal and doesn't allow for socialization but is actually fighting against one on one communication. Many feel like they are fighting to get the attention of those around them. I believe that this is not what our ancestors had in mind when they invented pastimes and hobbies. 

I am not saying that computers or ipads are inherently evil, that would be absurd. What I am saying is that we need to unplug. This is a term that has been coined and defined as separating ourselves at times from our devices. 

Elder Ballard (a major religious leader in the church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) in his recent address to the world in the Semi Annual General Conference for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, issued a call to action. He asked families to spend time specifically away from their electronic devices in family councils. This being, families spending time talking to each other about important things. 

Elder Ballard had a really good point. We need to unplug. We need to put people before devices. This is becoming a serious topic because it is becoming a serious problem. On average android users spend more than 30 minutes a day playing games on the cell phone. This is throughout the world! In the United States the problem is even worse, we spend an average of 50 minutes a day playing games.

Some believe that this game playing addiction is actually a positive change in society. JaneMcGonigal, in her Ted talk titled “Gaming can make a better world” (2008) discusses the positive impact that gaming can have on society. She says that with the amount of time people are spending gaming they technically should be experts at something. Her point was that good video games can make us experts. I truly agree, we should be experts at something after spending at least 8 hours a week gaming. The catch is that most games aren't the positive social skill building games that Jane wanted to promote. 

While I agree that if we were spending time playing positive games we would be better people, I don't believe that we do play positive games. I believe that our time could be better spent learning about those around us rather then playing another round of Candy Crush or checking Facebook.

Regardless of the negative impact of gaming on the social society, digital devices can be used for good. One of my Facebook friends mentioned that the only way he could communicate with his wife while they were in different states was through the use of digital devices.

His valid point was that digital communication can build relationships. I completely agree with this point of view and think that this is exactly what computers should be use for. I think that we need to use devices more frequently for things like talking to our family members but that we should minimize time spent doing mindless or less important things such as youtubing for hours, Facebooking constantly, playing video games and playing games on your phone. 
(I am in the corner distracted by the digital world) 
This picture was actually posted by my friend on Facebook today. I thought it was a great example of what I have been talking about .
(Don't be the one in the corner) 

Overall it can be seen that digital device can be used for good but we have to chose the good. We need to be aware of our digital consumption and not just allow for time with other but make time for others. We need to be in the world not just in our social media devices. Let us not only be active on our online accounts but active in our society. By doing this we can make a difference in the lives of those around us because we will be participating in the lives of those around us. Gone is the days of ignoring others, now is the day when we put down our devices and build a world of social unity. 

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