We are the Borg… Almost.


I’ve been mulling over something for a while now, and badly feel like I need to get it off my chest, so here goes.

Technology has royally screwed my generation and the next.

Before you decide I’m a loony and move on, allow me to explain myself.

My peers and anyone younger than us have (in the most literal way) grown up on technology. Before we could write cursive we (and they) are proficient typists. I’ve seen advertisements for “baby computers” that will teach your tot basic computing skills before they can even talk. A little girl in the coffee shop the other day was reading texts aloud to her older sister, wielding her smartphone like I would have a Barbie.

In the personal scope, I can only barely remember before we got our first computer– a Macintosh Performa. While its primary function was for my mom’s work, we also had a number of educational games that we would while hours away playing. My second big computer-related memory is when my mom got my dad an original iMac for his birthday, in a snazzy lime shade. (Yes, kids, there was a time when Mac’s big selling point was its pretty colors, not its artistic-pretentious minimalism.) My little sister cannot remember a time without computers, and was typing before her handwriting was legible.

Now, there are four functioning computers in my house and several that are obsolete. I got my first PC when I was 16, and my second (a definite upgrade) at 18. Now my first laptop has been inherited by my little sister at the tender age of 14, and despite my smartphone and thousand-dollar desktop I’ve been entertaining thoughts of purchasing a wee netbook for myself.

So much has happened in the last fifty years technology-wise. The ultimate question then, do the benefits outweigh the toll it wreaks?

I think no.

So much of our so-called social interaction occurs through the use of electronic intermediaries anymore that we straight up do not have the means to interact in face-to-face, one-on-one situations.

For example, I was once in Townshend’s tea house in downtown Bend with my friend Hilary observing how people use their cell phones in the public sphere. It was pretty unremarkable, until a mob of high schoolers invaded (probably freshmen and sophmores, but I am bad at estimating age.)

We were then treated to the sight of annoying public displays of affection (kissing, snuggling in a mob on the couch, etc,) but with a rather disturbing twist. These kids were at the beck and call of their cell phones– I witnessed at least one person disengage themselves from a kiss to answer a text, and several people shut down conversations in favor of their cell phones.

I was (and still am) completely flabbergasted.

Since when did people who aren’t present become more important than the people you’re with?

(I’m finally at the point!)

People use these electronic intermediaries as a way to keep people distant. It may be subconscious — it’s not for me. The reason technology has screwed us over, though, my fellow under-20-ers, is because we have no recollection of a time without electronic intermediaries, and therefore our social skills are systematically breaking down.

You know how annoying it is when you’re in a group and there’s one person who is constantly texting someone who isn’t there? Have you ever been in a group where the majority engaged in this lack of etiquette? How long until trying to engage with the group is considered bad etiquette?

Why do you think suicide rates are so disturbingly high? No one has a voice. No one makes deep connections. We have no real community– it’s all imagined. We may as well be the Borg, plugged into a network but blind to what’s right in front of us.

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    • kevindmcclelland
    • July 17th, 2011

    I half-agree with you. Technology can and has improved our quality of life, but the interpretation and proper use of technology is what is great about it. What you saw- high schoolers being ADD and living on their phones- is not just a product of technology and its use in their lives, it’s what high school/that age IS. A search for meaning and existence and acceptance. By paying attention to their phones, it provides a sense of acceptance and want from their peers. Are cell phones the best way to accomplish this? No, but at least they’re talking.

    That’s my take, anyway. Love the blog- great stuff to read!

    • Yes, my big weakness in this blog is failing to address the positives about technology. My point was, I guess, that the behavior exhibited by the high school crowd seemed like an ominous glimpse at the future– but then, if I took everything high schoolers do as an indication of the future I would be madly depressed at life. So I hope you’re right, and it’s just an acceptance thing. Thanks for your input! I’m honestly thrilled that you took the time to comment.
      – Bethany

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