This Isn’t Snapchat
I used to think that computers were pieces of machinery designed for adults so they could do their “adult thing,” whatever that was. When I was ten years old, I used to believe that the computer was like the parent shrine for work worshipping and a center for boring quiet games like Solitaire. I had never dreamed that computers and technology would advance at such a rapid rate because I was too busy playing dress up. As a kid, I did not truly understand why adults would desire to sit and stare at a screen. Where’s the fun in that when you can actively engage in the world? Until I got older, I realized that using computers was essential to engage in the world, and technological advancement carried on rapidly. As the dress up days came to their inevitable end, my computer use increased, especially in high school and college. Within this amount of time I noticed trending changes: written papers became Word documents, oral presentations became PowerPoint presentations, letters became emails, conversations became text messages, etc. As a college student, I am required to be technologically literate. Having said this, computers were no longer an “adult thing” but an “everyone thing” as technology became the new literacy in society.
When I started college, my professors displayed contrasting opinions regarding technology in the classroom. On one hand, they would not allow laptops in class, believing that student access to the Internet posed a threat to in-class discussions, distracting attention from the lecturer. Professors were afraid that students would go on Facebook and talk to their friends in codes such as acronyms or Urban Dictionary terminology. They would always press on the issue of online communication, believing technological literacy would harm students’ academic literacy and cause ineffective oral conduct in the professional world. On the other hand, professors would use technology for practical purposes. Resources like PowerPoint presentations, online homework, Word Documents, school email accounts, classroom websites and online textbooks are examples of technological assets. Though technology may seem distracting and problematic to students in the classroom, these academic online resources became essential for my studies in college.
Being a History major, it is a habit of mine to look into the past. I imagine everyone with a zeal for history like me would agree that old artifacts, documents, cultures, traditions and people are interesting. However, this passion for old stuff can be incompatible with society today. In our technological era, computers and communication devices run the daily routine. College students today walk around with their iPhones and earphones saying to the world, “Don’t bother me.” I am guilty of this because truthfully, how can you resist Spotify or Pandora and Angry Birds? Yet, my knack for old stuff may seem archaic at times. No one in their right mind would think about writing letters to their friends today because it would take a lot more time and effort to send a message. Convenience became the new fixation.
Online communication is another language that adults cannot often understand and it may seem frightening to a third-party outsider. From my understanding of technological literacy, technology is influencing our thirst for education. We thrive on new and updated information, such as weather reports or the cure for the common cold. Technological literacy is necessary to maintain practical information, but it can also be socially harmful. People in society are failing to effectively communicate with one another because we rely heavily on easy, accessible devices.
Society’s methods of communication are changing and becoming more impersonal. With Snapchat, Facebook, YikYak, and text messages, people are only communicating through their devices. Don’t get me wrong: emojis effectively substitutes cartoon stickers for human facial expressions. I guess that’s why they invented FaceTime. Though these applications make me feel like the dorkier version of Batman, I can’t deny that the future does not know what to do with all this advancement. It is alarming to think that an age in which people once wrote letters to each other, conversed face to face to make friends, and used typewriters to record data is whirling down the toilet and floating in the pool of historical insignificance. Writing by hand used to be the beacon of educational value, social status and economical wealth.
With the advancement of technological literacy today, my biggest concern is in maintaining our artistic and moralistic values. What happened to letter writing? Handwritten letters were not only a means of communication but they were also symbols of personal bonds and close support. Plus the writer’s spirit is reflected in the art of penmanship. Handwritten letters did not contain fonts but they were personal and meaningful. It is hard to understand what is meaningful today because we cannot differentiate offline literacy from online literacy. Fonts, for instance, are examples of online utilities that take away the artistic values of penmanship. Similarly, fonts lack emotion and make conversations more impersonal. Though many people see letter writing in television shows, such as the World War II drama called Band of Brothers, one does not feel the need to write on paper when one can simply type it out on a Word document in the same font.
Texting and Snapchatting, for example, became the next best forms of communication, especially in college. I began to take note of a few key aspects that contribute to the impersonal behavior in society. As a young adult, I tried out Snapchat with some friends. It is like texting through pictures or videos: it shows images you want the other party to see and you could leave brief messages as captions. Using Sanpchat was fun because it opened up the door to creativity. However, it became repetitive and tiresome after a while. Plus, I was really tired of receiving selfies from everyone for no apparent reason, mostly because it was impersonal. As I got older, I began to use Snapchat less and my friends grew concerned. When I finally deleted the application, I noticed a change in their behavior and in the way they communicated with me. They spoke in full sentences, their personal visitations increased, and their offline behavior was more personal. After noticing this trend in behavior, I started reflecting on technology’s influence on literacy. Technology has run our lives so completely that it feels as though we are running through a fog. No matter how fast we run or what direction we take, we are so far deep into it that we cannot find our way out.
While our culture is evolving, I can’t help but dwell upon the new status quo: I feel like an Indiana Jones in a Star Trek era. What does this mean? Well, if you are familiar with Star Trek, you may know that technology is the mothership of humanity’s existence. There are even aliens involved. For those who are familiar with Indiana Jones, you may know that Indiana Jones is a professor of archeology in school and a tough treasure-hunter outside of school. You may also find that he constantly says things like, “This belongs in a museum!” I admire Indiana Jones as a representation of my academic image. He respects the values of ancient history and is a symbol of preserving historically significant treasures, such as old scriptures and artifacts. Though he nearly destroys every temple he enters, he represents scholarly benevolence and traditional literary value. Star Trek, on the other hand, is a mirror of society today because we are constantly on a technological voyage for new and exciting discoveries.
If college has taught me one thing, it’s that we need balance in life, especially where technology is concerned. It is a choice to involve oneself in social media. It is a choice to speak a certain way. It is a choice to use or not to use technology, though it is inevitable to cross paths with it. No matter how much one may look to the past and admire how it used to be, one cannot escape the outcomes of technological advancement. It is a struggle to find a balance in our lives when technology is involved, but it becomes less of a struggle when we try to control our habits. Instead of communicating with friends through social media, emails or texting, one should consider frequent personal visits and/or talk on the phone. As for online activities, one should limit oneself, such as using one or two social media platforms. Limitations such as these may help broaden one’s connection from technology and grow new, personal connections with the outside world.