I can recall a couple of years ago, an old lady friend and I were out having some lunch. It was my first day off in a few weeks, and I just wanted to spend the day relaxing and didn’t want to exert myself too much. But like my old man always says, “if it wasn’t for bad luck, I’d have no luck at all.” This lady
friend of mine dropped her phone, splitting it in half. It was obviously broken, and my day of taking a breather, I knew, would turn into a day of desperation and working against the clock. Oh the calls, texts, emails, facebook updates she’d miss! How would she survive!? I on the other hand would be thrilled to be cut off from the world…but not her!
I feel technology has become such an intricate part of our lives, that for some, actually it seems that for many if not most, technology and digital literacy is more than just a simple way to communicate. It’s shaped us and our identities into who we are and how people socially perceive us. Do we define technology, or does technology define us?
British Sociologist Lord Anthony Giddens, who’s written more books then some people read in a lifetime, has done extensive research in regards to the relationship between social identity and technology. Modern individuals have to be constantly “self-reflexive,” making decisions about what they should do and who they should be. The self becomes a kind of “project” that individuals have to work on: they have to create biographical “narratives” that will explain themselves to themselves, and hence sustain a coherent and consistent identity (9).
It seems that technology is doing more than just making the world and information more convenient. It’s also defining and creating peoples identities. Myself for example, am one that really only uses technology when I need to and when it’s convenient for me. When I have to write a paper, write an email, look up the score of a game, when my two weeks are up and I have to call my parents, etc. I’m one of the few people that I know of who doesn’t have facebook, I’m slow to respond to texts (by choice) and don’t really use technology to shape my identity, and because of this and various reasons I tend to avoid technology, I’ve become somewhat of a recluse in the eyes of many. What ever happened to just picking up the phone and giving me a call the old fashioned way? It makes me wonder what people did before cell phones and the Internet. Were there people as stark crazy about staying in constant contact with others 24 hours a day back then like now? If so, did they use to sit at home by the phone, and wait for someone, anyone to call? Did they constantly check their mailbox, a dozen times a day to see if anyone wrote them a letter? Or, was society way back when, not as caught up with maintaining today’s theme of being an active member of a communicative society? What were people’s identities like before the technology boom which seemed to occur over the past 20 years? Were people judged by how many real life friends they had as opposed to today when some judge others by how many facebook friends they have?
Also, has technology made our world any better? Some say yes, and I’d have to agree to a certain extent. We are now at an age of the “net-generation.” One, which utilizes the computer and the world-wide-web for their instant source of news and commerce. “N-Geners” are “hungry for ex- pression, discovery, and their own self-development”: they are savvy, self-reliant, analytical, articulate, creative, inquisitive, accepting of diversity, and socially conscious (13, Buckingham).
We are able to get various accounts of news from all over the globe at the click of a button, so to say. It has, made the world a lot smaller and has created a more open-minded society. A medium for social awakening,” which is producing a generation that is more tolerant, more globally oriented, more inclined to exercise social and civic responsibility, and to respect the environment (14, Buckingham). And according to Brant and Myers, the emergence of technology has allowed us to get away from the global superpowers and has given the smaller countries a voice in the world (664, Hawisher).
But at the same time, it is worrisome. Is technology making us lazy? I recall when growing up, my best friends little brother was a lot more in tune to technology than we were, but we didn’t say that, we called him lazy. He’d spend hours upon hours playing video games and surfing the net. We use to joke that he had “Nintendo-Legs,” a wretched disease which causes one’s legs to be extremely thin and brittle due to long hours of sitting on one’s keester and playing too much Super Nintendo. Now though, Mr. Nintendo-Legs has a job where his technology skills as a kid have made him into an adult with savvy computer skills. He just bought a fancy car and his older brother rides a bicycle to work (and not because he’s thinking green).
Technology has radically shaped our lives and our society. I feel it’s created more people such as myself to become more reclusive, but I really don’t mind. In the past, I might have consulted my friends and family in regards to deciding where to possibly go on a weekend get-away. Now, I just Google where to go, “best weekend get-aways near me.” I’ve become more independent as have many others thanks to technology. Is all this a good thing? I’d say it’s still up for debate in my mind. I’m not sure people really are as social as they once were, at least not in face-to-face interactions. Why go to out and spend my whole night finding the right girl to buy a drink for when I can just parooze Match.com, or hell, even craigslist! All technology and literacy’s have life spans, it’s just a matter of time before we’re on to the next, so I guess we had better prepare for the worse…er, I mean best!