The Crimson White

Don't let technology control your life

Will Sorrell

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As you read this, you probably don’t even consciously realize that you are looking at a screen. Chances are it’s not your first time today, nor will it be your last. Smart phones, laptops and tablets are engrained and implanted in the very fabric of western society, permeating all levels of socioeconomic and cultural status.

While Internet addiction has been widely researched and documented, it’s safe to say the majority of us aren’t enslaved to our devices. Yet, why do we behave as such?

According to a 2013 study, Americans who engage in two or more tech platforms spend an average of 23 hours per week texting, checking email or on social media. I’m no math major, but 23 hours is one hour shy of a full day.

We as participants of the Information Age have constructed a system of livelihood that reduces our living to six days a week.

In an attempt to optimize efficiency, improve communication and provide flexibility in all manners of work and rest, we strain and strangle the freedoms we sought to gain with the cords of the entities that promised us a better existence.

We’ve all felt the ghost vibration of an empty pocket expecting a text, the incessant craving for furthered approval on an Instagram post or the simple need to find companionship in the glow of a screen after the lights fade and loved ones depart for home – or perhaps just the glow of your latest Tinder match. As members of the human race we need to be known and loved, yet we seek the realization of these innate desires in interactions that cannot fulfill us.

We have played the victim to a siren song, abandoning the voyage towards intimacy and connection and allowing our faculties to roam as they please, all the while ignoring the hold the pseudo-relations have on our psyche. In the liberation of choice in self-presentation within social media, texting and Internet use, we have lost ourselves in Narcissus’ pool, staring back at the cold, unwavering gaze upon gaze of how we wish to be.

But surely there is redemption for technology; there must be a happy medium to be struck between the three-year-old entranced by Angry Birds and the curmudgeons who curse any form of electronic communication.

Perhaps we as millennials in particular have lost the art of self-control in an age where instant gratification reigns and information flows like rainwater. Perhaps in the fear of missing out, we have forgotten the confidence to be found in not knowing everything. Perhaps it’s not too late for us to strike the balance between underuse and abuse of technology before we propel society into furthered extremes and unhealthy rhythms.

So the next time you find yourself seven minutes late for a class and halted by the ever-faithful Tuscaloosa railroad system, or the next time there’s an awkward pause in conversation with your parents whom you haven’t seen since August, don’t check Twitter. Roll down the windows, ask another question and reflect on all that fills the moment.

Don’t bury a day of your week in a screen. Invest your day in your own life and in the lives of others.

Will Sorrell is a senior majoring in finance. His column runs biweekly.

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Don't let technology control your life