Is Technology The Blame?


anti-social

A couple of days ago, I strolled down to the local Oak Park library to enjoy the weather outside and hopefully come across a good read. As I walked in the air-conditioned climate, I noticed something even colder, which was the lack of interaction between people. Typically, when I walk into the library I am greeted by a least a couple of the workers. One being the security guard at the desk and another being a librarian helping out a customer and it made me think…is technology the blame for our absence of socializing?

I started to make my way upstairs to the third floor to go on a book hunt and decided to pull out my list of “Books to Read” on my phone. I logged onto the library database to search for a book called, “The Tipping Point” by Malcolm Caldwell. An error message appeared on the screen, which caused me to retreat to the help desk. This was my first interaction after being in the library for almost 10 minutes.

The librarian explained what the error message meant and gladly asked if I needed assistance with anything else. That was the only interaction I encountered in the library until I needed to check out a book and this is what paused me in my tracks!! You know how supermarkets are expanding on the self check-out areas? Well, apparently so are the libraries!!! I only identified ONE librarian on the first floor, the area where everyone checks out books. There used to be multiple librarians on the floor, ecstatic to see so many people of various ages eager to take their books home for an adventurous reading session. Not this time. Those librarians’ jobs have been replaced with these new, futuristic machines that scan your library card, reveal your account information, and then the book is scanned with a receipt provided to show the return date. I am someone who enjoys a conversation whenever I have the opportunity to do so because it is an exchange of information and experiences, contributing knowledge on both ends. But, when humans are being replaced by machines there is a multitude of opportunities to engage in dialect that are effaced. I hope I’m not overreacting, but just in case I am, I just want to touch on a few more points to solidify my reasoning behind my disappointment.

Unfortunately, we are living in generation where we keep our head down majority of the time. Our heads are down with our attention occupied by a screen more so than a book and we are unaware of what’s going on in the world. Well…actually, we are aware because Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are now the newest locations for the news. Everybody is posting WHAT happened, WHERE it happened, HOW it happened, and WHO it happened to!! I believe we reached our own version of the “Tipping Point” and we completely tipped over. From a visual perspective, picture yourself taking public transportation, attending a party, or a “social” gathering. Honestly, what do you see most people doing? Looking down on their cellular devices, texting, playing a game, or on a social media website. Not to debase anyone from utilizing their mobile devices because I am certainly not paying the bill so, I have no right to dictate how or when you use your phone. But, let’s put a few things in perspective here.

ONE: being so engaged in your phone instead of people becomes very unhealthy after awhile. Its difficult to approach an individual who is so immersed in their screen that they end up almost bumping into objects because they are afraid to look up. That is not welcoming and it discourages people who want to socialize and strike up a conversation, perhaps. TWO: Because people are discouraged to engage in conversation, there are so many opportunities being unconsciously demolished on a regular basis. You could run into the perfect business partner, the right employer, or maybe even your future life partner. I mean hey, you never know! At any given moment there is always a possibility that an encounter can be life changing for the better, but we wouldn’t know that because we love our phone more than actual people. THIRD: We can’t complain so much about not finding the right people or the right resources when we spend half our day on social media. If anything, social media can be used to make these connections, to market your business, and advertise your product, but a lot of us use it to be nosey. We always want to know what every one else is doing. Maybe, if you desire to find the right people or resources, go out for a change! No, I don’t mean partying and getting wasted, sorry. I am talking about attending networking events, where people pull out their phones ONLY to exchange contact information. I am talking about museums where people have discussions about science, art, philosophy, etc. I am talking about fashion shows, concerts, open mics, art galleries, or wherever your passion is!!

YOU NEVER KNOW who you might run into or what type of inspiration might hit you from stepping outside of your comfort zone and exploring the world outside of the internet. Life changing experiences are bound to happen if you believe there is an opportunity waiting to be greeted at any moment. YOU NEVER KNOW.

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