Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Twitterpated with Technology

By Alyssa Maine ’11
With the click of a button and a few letters on a keyboard pressed, anyone can present a new and altered version of who they are to cosmic cyberspace. It’s not hard to get hooked, and it’s no secret that college students are always on Facebook, texting, playing Xbox 360 or the Wii, or tweeting on Twitter.

During convocation on April 9, Professors Bryan Auday and Sybil Coleman presented cutting-edge research on student addiction to social media and online technology. They researched the amount of time Christian college students spend immersed in technology: students spend as much time engaged in these online activities as they do at their part-time jobs.
Gordon wanted to respond to this addiction, so the Chapel Office, the Convocation Committee and CSD, under the direction of Associate Dean of Students Julie Ray and Resident Director Abi Noble, invited the Gordon community to respond by engaging in a Techno-Fast, created to heighten the community’s sensitivities to technology usage. Various options were presented to give up certain aspects of social media and technology for a period of time, from giving up Facebook for four consecutive days to going two consecutive days without going online to abstaining from texting for four consecutive days, etc.

Anders Johnson, sophomore communication arts major, decided to fast from Facebook, the Internet and video games. During his four-day fast he saw that while technology does make it possible to stay in touch with family and friends, give quick access to information and provide hours of mindless fun on Smash Brothers or YouTube, benefits do not outweigh the costs.

He learned that “Maintaining friendships through technology takes away our real-world relationships. People are given the ability to create their alternate personas, which may or may not be true to who they are.” While there are benefits from the conveniences and fun of technology, Anders realized that communication loses meaning when it becomes so readily available, quick and easy. Communication through technology becomes self-seeking, and he recognized his own need to be more intentional when surrounded by other people—to engage in the moment.

Even though the campus-wide fast is over, the conversation goes on. Technology continues to expand, and a Gordon mailbox never ceases to have emails from all over campus, from friends, from professors. Leon Kass, in the preface of Hungry Soul: Eating and the Perfecting of our Nature, says it best: “The fault lies not in our stars but in our souls.” The problems that come from technology addiction aren’t a result of technology itself. The problem lies within the user who misuses and abuses it.
Photo courtesy of Kait Stockwell ’11.

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