BY DAWID CIELOSZCZYK, LAW I
There is nothing that will force you into the unexplored recesses of your lump of neurons and assorted chemicals as a delayed flight. For me, this is in part due to the fact that my phone doesn’t charge properly, so I have no mindless diversions from the firm floor that is currently acting as my resting ground at 3:30am. Somewhere in-between the stage of extreme exhaustion, law-school hangover, and lively, whirring thoughts, I do what someone will hopefully be paying me to do one day: think. “If you can’t work with your hands, then you better use your brain “, echo the words of a concerned mother.
Back to the phone. Some time apart from this expensive Facebook machine has forced me to amuse myself like people centuries ago did: doodling on paper, asking people if they want to play a game of cards, and so on… There really is a world outside of this smart device. Unfortunately this can’t be true if everyone’s eyes are locked onto a screen looking for things to do, because then you realize you’re the only one free from the matrix. Reaching around for someone to have even a trivial conversation with can be challenging when everyone is plugged in.
I’m not about to turn this into some old school speech about the nuisance of modern technology, because I love technology, probably more than most. But I find it hard to swallow that people are unable to even dare setting aside their phone, which acts as their shield from having to interact in sinister places like public transportation.
The point I want to make is this echnology is evolving exponentially, and if you are like myself, you love delving into it and are amenable to getting lost in a world that is not one of greenery and shrubs. There are immense psychological impacts and influences to be researched in the area of social media, which I await with elation. The observation that has come to me now however, is that the technologies that are capable of overcoming us today are far more powerful than they have ever been. Similar arguments can be made about the newspaper decades ago, but the smartphone is different, because it is like an extension of the mind, plus an audience.
Your audience used to only extend up to your line of sight, but now the audience is either anonymous, or 500 people connected to a similar program, or the whole internet itself. This might explain why we shun the people on the tedious commute in preference for the mind in our hand. By flipping on the phone, we get instant reward, much gratification, and a forum on which to share information, which activates the reward centers in our brains. No one said pleasure and ‘happiness’ are bad things, but the question is what kind of values are we instilling?
Are we becoming more awkward? Are we encouraging the taking of appropriate risks, or a life of safe, instantaneous gratification? Are we encouraging cooperation, or secluded individualism? Are we developing individuals closely in-tune and sensitive to the environment around them? Wherever we are going as a society with this, do not neglect the significance of the flow of human consciousness. As Hesse says, “the river is everywhere.” And as such, we are the wielders of its direction and flow. Would it not be such a beautiful thing to merge into the sea?