Techno-Disconnect

As millennials we are faced with ample opportunity with communicating, however we have lost the art of communicating in person. Instead, we can communicate without speaking and our opinions are voiced by our social media platforms. Our image is translated through pictures and profiles yet we stand silent when in a crowd, looking at our phones. We ignore phone calls and instead reply with a text, again avoiding interpersonal conversation. The ability to connect with distant friends and family is something that has not been a possibility however, are we losing our own ability to communicate?

Individualistic people understand the wonders of social media and technological advancements however; they know that our ability to present ourselves starts with our own minds and not with social media and cellphones. As Ralph Waldo-Emerson wrote, “the civilized man has built a coach, but has lost the use of his feet” (Emerson, Self-Reliance, p. 36). Millennials no longer network on an interpersonal level instead we use social media and technology to create connections. This generation knows how to address their image and opinion through blogs, posts, and text yet lacks the ability to present their ideas through their own voice. The lack of interpersonal conversation is hurting our independence.

Society now relies on technology rather than using their own skills to present themselves in thoughtful discussion. Social media platforms provide an easy access for a broad range of people to see what you are doing and how you feel. Instead, we should be acting for ourselves, for our own happiness and our own goals. Instead our posts and conversations are for comments and replies rather personal satisfaction and growth. Individualism allows for people to be satisfied with themselves, by conveying our thoughts through media platforms we are losing that satisfaction and in returning looking for approval.

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Individual thought allows for the most benefit in society. The integration of technology and individual thought is troublesome however. Instead of thinking critically and engaging in provocative discussion we are using technology and media to convey our thoughts. This allows for an extended level of security for us but also a level of disengagement between people. Individualism is a concept that allows for people to work, think, act, and pursue happiness for themselves and by being who we are and doing what we love we are benefiting our community. Our thoughts being posted on social media makes it less about ourselves and our personal beliefs and more about what others will think. If we are living our life for our own happiness others’ thoughts should not matter.

Millennials are faced with new challenges because of the integration of technology and communication. Despite these challenges we must not lose our ability to engage with others interpersonally. There are many benefits from technology but we must also live our lives in the present and not through our computers and smart phones. Our individualism is being damaged by the constant need for gratification. By being ourselves and defending our thoughts in person, we will not lose sight of our individual aspirations. Technology is an asset but it has also allowed us to lose sight of our lives in the present.

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9 Responses to Techno-Disconnect

  1. kevyngessner1 says:

    I couldn’t have said it better myself. I think often times we lose sight of the big picture trying to satisfy everyone around us, and make sure we’re being noticed. It’s counterintuitive, when you think about it, that we’re always looking for the recognition by hiding behind our phones and computer screens.

    The quote you chose from Self Reliance demonstrates that Emerson was almost predicting the future. We have designed these social media platforms thinking we would become more innovative, more efficient and more engaged. While some of that may be true, we disconnect ourselves from the world while we’re connecting. Just walking around campus you see so many people scrolling on their phones instead of talking to each other. We’ve become great at interacting with a screen in between us, but have lost what it actually means to ‘connect’.

  2. azwoodland says:

    I think we are too quick to latch onto this idea – that Millennials, although I would argue that this also applies to Generation X and the new Generation Z, are not communicating efficiently because of their wide use of smart phones and consequently social media. You pose the question, “Are we losing our own ability to communicate?” I say no. Instead, I believe the forms of communication we now utilize are simply a product of a larger, underlying notion – the importance of efficiency.
    In the article “Why is Everyone So Busy?” printed in The Economist, the author asserts that “American workers toil some of the longest hours in the industrial world” with “rising wages, rising costs, diminishing job security, and more demanding, rewarding work squeezing leisure time” (2014). I’m sure that as a college student, not even in the workforce yet, you have felt this pressure. I know I have. I believe my time is precious and carefully allocate it to things of importance. Between two majors, a certificate, a research lab, three volunteer organizations, applying to medical schools, family, friends, and a significant other – I can’t remember the last time I had a moment to myself.
    I’m addicted to my iPhone, my MacBook. I check my e-mail religiously. Facebook and Twitter are my most visited websites. Just looking at the apps on my phone, I have countless other “social media” platforms installed – YouTube, Instagram, Slack, SnapChat, Reddit. I truly fit the millennial stereotype. But here’s what it boils down to – I just don’t have the time, at least now, to communicate without social media or my smartphone. It’s not an efficient use of my time.
    For an example, when I started college, I had a job where my manager insisted on weekly meetings. I just remember getting so frustrated, sitting in those hours that would last at least an hour, listening to her drone about things that could have been sent in an email. It would have been worth it, had it been an opportunity to bond or to present our ideas, but that’s not what it was. It was listening to my supervisor talk about things most of us already knew.
    That’s the thing – I don’t see a problem with texting or emailing someone instead of calling them. It takes less time. I don’t see the problem with reading blogs instead of listening to speeches. I don’t see the problem with checking up on someone’s Facebook instead of catching up with them. All of this is communication – despite the change in form. Instead of questioning our loss of communication, I believe the question we should be posing is, “How has communication changed and how can we use this to our benefit?”

  3. tibblebits says:

    You’re spot on with your analysis that millennials are using social media to the point that real life interpersonal communication has taken a hit. It will be interesting to see the psychological research that comes out of this. Social media also has important implications for individual epistemology, that is, how an individual generates and sources their knowledge. It used to be that there were few authorities with respect to the creation of knowledge, but today, as a result of social media, there are many different authorities. It is possibly to curate your social media feed into a stream of alt-right,/socialist/nationalist/Islamist (whatever -ism you want, really) nonsense, and then derive your personal ideology, your Individualism, from that feed. People now have access to what I would call hyper-ideology, which is the result of closed-off forums where dissent is grounds for ban. Social media, as a platform, gives rise to such communities, but it is the individuals that comprise them that give them life. Today it is possible for someone to ensure that they never see any alternative point of views on the internet (unless they try), which leads to a careful selection of what is considered a fact.

  4. Alex Corella says:

    This post seems like a pretty alarmist view of new media and networking, but I agree with some of the sentiment. Not that “we have lost the art of communicating in person” or ” Millennials no longer network on an interpersonal level,” but as the first generation that actually developed in a digitally connected world, the social effects that have happened to us have been extreme, at least compared to every generation before. In my opinion, the internet and social networking apps have created a degree of even more independence and ability to really connect with an even bigger interpersonal network, even if it is digital. However, I feel like my own view is no better than yours. What I do think is that social media has greatly exacerbated the more rare interactions that we used to have as a society, and as a result, we do see people that care more about the opinions of others or maybe some who feel like they’re more socially apt on the internet and don’t have to worry about different social pressures that would exist off the internet. Maybe both of those things are the same thing. From my view, we as humans have always sought approval, and everything that happens on the internet is no different from what we as humans already seek. It might be in your view that this is a problem, as I would argue that online interactions could make many people more anti-social, especially those with radical views, but I think that what we’re seeing is many people getting what we crave as social animals from the internet instead of in person. I completely agree that we should all socialize interdependently more in person, but if someone were to make the argument that they feel more comfortable on the internet, does that really indicate a problem or a solution to their fears?

  5. reneucros says:

    Kassandra I very much agree with your points on losing the ability to communicate and have interpersonal relationships. I find myself, often, being annoyed by my friends, sister, or even being out on a date and the girl is on her phone or holding her phone the whole time. We have made amazing progress with technology and that seems to be a blessing and a curse. It’s almost as if we progressed too fast and created technology-dependent people. Just like you said, the youth does not seem to get to develop their interpersonal skills and end up losing the satisfaction of displaying original thought and having it come from our mouths directly into someone’s ears. I wonder, however, if there is any way to fix it.

  6. jakeivey says:

    I agree with every point of this post. Just last year, my senior year of high school, my english teachers really pushed this idea of technology destroying our society. My eyes were opened and I found my self nodding and agreeing to what he was saying. Not only did I agree with his statements but noticed these problems more in my every day life. I saw the dependence that I had to my phone and other devices. Walking around campus its not uncommon to see someone walking with their head buried in their phone. After learning about our societies addiction to this technology I’ve scaled back my phone and social media usage. Communication skills are very important in everyday life and if those skills are lost it can show a negative impact for relationships, your career and overall day to day life.

  7. You bring up very intelligent points in your essay, and raise even more questions for the upcoming future. The daunting thought that is attached to techno disconnect isn’t necessarily the techno disconnect itself, but what comes next. After all, it wasn’t too long until the coach was replaced with the train, the train with the car, and the car with…who knows? The same goes for this technology as well. What comes after the phone, the social media, the incessant need for gratification? Your essay only leaves a more revolting thought of the future. At what point will we become so disconnected that the entire concept of interacting with one another has the physical aspect out of it. Of course, no one argues that technology benefits society through the means of sharing information, but at what cost? Indeed, you make me wonder what’s behind the doors of the future in relation to this technology, and you make me wonder if we’re at a tipping point; will society choose to turn away from technology because they know it’s become too damaging, or is it too late already?

    Wonderful topic, and a great relation to what we’re reading in class.

  8. Geoffrey Vassallucci says:

    Your article is very interesting, honestly. I totally agree on some points: we are facing a new era in which technology reigns. With the appearance and the development of technology, our lives changed radically. However, I think we can interpret that through a different point of view. Technology is not necessarily harmful. I think today people minimize the technology’s contribution in our society. Technology provides us unbelievable means of communication ! Look ! We can discuss about all the subjects we want through a computer and this blog, even if it is midnight ! Thanks to technology ! That is wonderful !

    Today, people are always criticizing technology, in particular social networks, internet… But I think no one can admit today that he could do without technology… Technology is a part of our life. Technlology is helping us every single day in all the little things we are doing… So according to me, instead of blaming constantly what technology is today, we have rather to be focused on behaviour’s people facing technology… The problem is not in technology itself but in people theirselves !

  9. mschonbe says:

    Kassandra,

    You bring up interesting points in your blog post. I often have this conversation with my friends. I agree that as a whole millennials heavily rely on social media and technology to communicate with each other. Observing students on campus, it is obscenely apparent that most people have their phones out and are not paying attention to anything happening around them. The art of conversation has seemingly moved to texting and the conveying of emotions has moved to emojis. Many millennials feel extremely nervous about talking on the phone or speaking to people they do not know. This is even a problem when millennials spend time with their friends and family, they are not present and engaged in conversation, rather they are texting or on other social media platforms. I would agree that many millennials have fallen into these habits but on the other hand, I have many friends who fight this social norm and make a conscious decision to spend as little time as possible on their phones and on social media. Not surprisingly, these friends have the most individualistic mindset because they do not rely on the extrinsic motivation of others approving their lives and opinions. Looking at this from a different angle, millennials studying political science may have a strategic advantage on this matter when compared to their peers. In the field of political science, students are required to thoroughly examine complex historical articles and speeches and are encouraged to voice their opinions with eloquence and intention behind their words. By constantly reading and practicing eloquence of speech, political science students are able to hone the interpersonal skills that many millennials lack due to heavy reliance on social media and phone usage. This is part of the reason I chose to add political science as a minor.

    Great post!

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