So I was browsing around through some blogs the other day, trying to find something interesting to share with everyone when I came across a neat blog series called Reasonable People Disagree. Now, I’m not usually one to snag an idea straight from someone’s blog, but these series of articles really grabbed my attention because it is two professionals sharing differing opinions on a variety of subjects — a recent topic was social media. I always try to look at things in a non-biased perspective, so I thought this was be a great article for me to share some of my thoughts about.
Dalton Conley, a Dean of Social Sciences at New York University and an author of multiple books argues that technology, in most cases, is tearing families apart. As more and more technologically advanced gadgets are being released, people are becoming more distracted by them. People have developed increasingly poor social habits and manners as they answer their telephones at the dinner table, text each other instead of simply conversing, and much more. Everyone seems to be too immersed in their individual social media to see beyond it. In some cases, I would say this is true, however, I feel like this is primarily based on the individual. I believe that technology has always been a tool, and an obstacle for man.
Sure, these same technologies help us to keep ourselves organized on a daily basis and keep in touch with those who are important to us, so its more about how we embrace it and use it as a tool. If you happen abuse it to the point where you’re a social slug that’s stuck behind a computer updating your twitter account every hour, that’s your personal choice. I agree with Conley’s statement that in order to be intimate with our families, we need time alone. This reaches a point where you need to ‘cut the electronic umbilical cord’ and give ourselves the opportunity to connect with people on a personal level and be the social beings that we are. I believe part of this has to do with the way we are raised. Dinner should be one time in the day where families can come together and enjoy each others’ company. He mentions making a no-screen rule as punishment and also a way to give them time for themselves. I think this could be effective as a punishment, however, I think its highly based on the individual. If you don’t want your children to text or answer the phone at the dinner table, then perhaps you should set a good example for them, and not allow it to happen in the first place. Be the change that you want to see.
Natalie Jeremijenko, a tech-obsessed artist, engineer, and blogger for the website HowStuffIsMade.org has a differing opinion on the subject. She argues whether technology is tearing families apart, or rather bringing them closer together.
It’s doing both at the same time. We can use technology to connect with one another or to disconnect. The question becomes: To what extent do we exercise that agency? And why don’t we feel more in control of it?
She begins addressing this issue by talking about the popularization of it in her household. While in agreeance with Dalton on the subject of ‘cutting the electronic umbelical cord’ and giving oneself time to reflect, she also talks about the idea that we are the ones in charge of our lives, not the technology. If we choose not to take some quiet time off from the world to contemplate and reflect, they we may not need it.
On another note, she comments on Dalton’s punishment of taking away the computer from children by simply stating ‘bring it on.’ She believes that facebook is the type of social tool that kids should use to interact, get school assignments from friend they may have missed, and so much more. ‘School is social, and a social technology like Facebook can be a worthy partner.’ This is true because much of what we learn in school is how to function socially. We learn from interacting and responding with others. Sure we can’t learn all of this behind a computer, but it doesn’t mean the this can’t be supplimented by social interaction online as well. If anything, I think this is supported by the fact that most schools nowadays are embracing the idea of computer labs, video conferencing, and other technology to help enhance the education of their students.
With all this being said, I think we all need to take in consideration that technology isn’t going anywhere, and at this point I don’t think social media is either. We are all in charge of our lives so whether or not we use these tools to enhance our lives is completely up to us. ‘We’re the authors of our own lives—we’re not under the remote control of our technology.’