What happens when we can't function without technology?By Hank Wolverton | 03/03/2017 12:46am
When I was a young boy, back when dinosaurs still roamed the earth, I’m not entirely sure fire even existed. The leader of the cave tribe that I was born into had just created the first wheel and became soon after the first obnoxious soul who thought riding a unicycle made him cool. I mention this because other than hunting mammoths for food, there wasn’t a lot to do.
Fast forward to the future and not even Marty McFly could envision where we’d end up. Except he was pretty close regarding the hover boards, if he envisioned them as way lamer; some may call them the modern unicycle. Think about your cellular device, or another appendage because calling it anything less than a continuation of one’s own limbs would be doing it injustice. This isn’t going to be me harping on how social media is ruining society and plaguing the youth of America. It’s just more a question, at what point did we decide technology is more essential than human interaction? Is it even worse that we find ourselves more addicted to screens than face to face communication? Would you be publicly scorned for bringing up the idea that you don’t want your child to spend an entire restaurant outing playing games on his or her personal iPad?
As I am not a father, nowhere close to being a father and not ready to be the father to the future president, my questions are not about reprimanding the parents of the world, but rather finding a context in which all of this applies to university aged students. Upon my perusing of Facebook (because it is not the devil), I came across a friend asking for input on the idea of 20 somethings in metropolitan Birmingham having an event that specifically did not include alcohol. It got me thinking, much like how technology is just now an assumed part of us; social gatherings are largely fueled by substances.
Being the consumption of a substance before a gathering, or running straight towards a fountain of flowing alcohol when you arrive, it seems ingrained in us that sobriety is boring. Again, I’m not trying to argue for a pro drug fueled adventurous life of mayhem, just remarking that not partaking is not the norm. I myself can suffer from bouts of social anxiety, and I also see the appeal of knowing a drink might make me more open and conversational. It’s not like alcohol or anything haven’t been around for thousands of years and throughout history, but it just seems like once you reach a certain age that becomes a go-to. With cell phones, I didn’t start off with an iPad or didn’t even have a smartphone until college. It wasn’t a sense of my parents banning me from this technology, it was simply that the technology either didn’t exist or was too expensive. However, once it became part of the norm, I attached myself to it just as much as anyone else did.
How this ties into my other points is that when I was introduced to alcohol, I noticed the positive social effects and tried my best to just disregard the multitude of negative effects it sometimes led to. In doing so though, did I teach myself to become so dependent on that in order to function properly? If I lose my phone, can I not remember the first 18 years of my life where a cell phone wasn’t a necessity? When people start drinking in their teens or in college or whenever, do they just suddenly forget how they made friends and had fun and genuine conversations? I deal with my own issues with anxiety, but is depending on some illicit substance really the answer?
I’m not coming down on alcohol, on other drugs, or anything like that. I’m more just wondering, what happens to us where we persuade ourselves that we can’t function without certain things? Yes, you probably can tell a kid to play with a stick outside, and he’ll find a way to have fun. Yes, you can show up a party and not drink or smoke and still talk to that cute person in the corner. We’ve just seemingly become so dependent on outside sources that we lose confidence in the value of our own selves. I’m not a preacher for NA, for AA, for take away your kid’s Netflix subscription, just pondering the ideas of going back to simpler times and believing more in our own capabilities. Self-medication can only get you so far, when maybe the medication we need is to just be more empowering to ourselves and to others.