Posted by on Jun 29, 2009 in technology | 0 comments

I have come across a glut of articles about technology lately, especially as it related to social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook. Everything from what makes a good status update on Facebook to the dangers of tweeting about vacation because you may attract burglars to whether you should announce your layoff online to studies that show the potential impact on face to face communication, even in the home.

Being that I am an active user of this technology, these articles have been kicking around in my mind, spinning off quite a few trains of thought.

One of them was brought to fruition after we watched the movie Wall-E the other night. In the movie, the human race has left earth, which is full of mountains of trash, to live on a giant spaceship. They have every convenience possible…floating chairs they ride around in, computer screens hovering in front of their faces, and meals they can drink through a straw. They are blob-like and dulled by their reliance on robots that do everything for them, including playing sports.

In one scene, Wall-E bumps into a woman, and it turns off her computer screen. She blinks, looks around, and finally sees what is around her, even saying “hey, I didn’t know we had a pool?” She then starts to notice more and more…other people, the stars, the feel of water on her toes, the touch of someone else’s hand.

The image made me squirm a little bit internally, because while it is a caricature of technology’s future, there are hints of it now.

A silly example? If I want to know the temperature outside, I will almost always check The Weather Channel on my phone instead of sticking my head outside.

It also makes me think about the classes teach and how the first thing students will do when they get to class is logon to their laptops and check their email and Facebook. A sea of faces glued to their screens, and while it isn’t everyone, sometimes I want to say, “Hello…just look up and talk to the person next to you instead of posting on their wall! Stop crafting your next clever update and look at the sun shining in the window!”

It comes through in other ways too, where I can scroll through my friend list on Facebook and see what is new or catch up on my blog reading, and they would never even know that I was checking in. It is convenient, fast, but if you aren’t deliberate about supplementing it with good old fashioned face to face communication or at least a telephone call, you can really miss out on the richness of a true give and take conversation.

I’m not going to shut down my Facebook profile or stop posting on my blog…I believe they are valuable tools. But I am going to make sure that I don’t just peruse status updates, but I interact with them…I don’t just read blog entries, but I respond to them…and most importantly, I need to remind myself to pick up the phone to say hi…make a lunch date…and look away from the technology and into the eyes of the people I care about.

— Post From My iPhone

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