The day that screens become more important than sunsets and other people, is a sad day! That day has come.
We used to care about one another and enjoy telling great stories, laughing, having braais (BBQ’s) together and enjoying the social side of life. I remember growing up in a small mining town in South Africa. The “town” consisted of a tennis court, a swimming pool, 5 houses and a guest house for VIP visitors. And I will never forget it. We would spend hours swimming and playing in the Kalahari Bush. We would have friends over for an entire weekend and play tennis, non-stop. We had a TV (I’m not that old), but we were too busy having fun to waste our time on staring at a screen.
Today we are a far, far cry from that. I spend quite a bit of time on my computer, partly for work and partly because I love blogging, but I am blown away but what is happening to our society. Please understand that I am not anti- technology! Technology is a great tool that plays a role in making the world a far better place. I do however struggle with the way in which we are allowing technology to control our lives. It is ruining relationships and eroding our ability to communicate face-to-face.
Experts say that communication is 20% verbal and 80% body language. When we communicate via Facebook, Twitter or email our body language is hidden. We get into the habit of not having to consider our tone or expression when communicating via technology. And that has devastating effects on our ability to be tactful and treat others with respect. I have personally seen the degregation of respect and tact in young people as technology advances. It’s asif technology has “untaught” all the social skills of communication that should be present in society.
Do yourself a favour! Leave your phone and computer at home and spend 1 hour at a coffee shop in a busy mall. Just sit there and observe the people around you. You might feel like a “loser” because the busier we look, the cooler we think we are, but do it anyway. Notice how many people are on their phones. They are sitting with someone at a table, but spending more time texting to the person on their phone than talking to the one right in front of them. What’s the point of meeting someone for coffee if you’re more attracted to your phone?
Being an English teacher, I am absolutely horrified by the low level of comprehension, vocabulary, reading and spelling of children today. There are grade 12 students who don’t know how to spell simple words because we are allowing them to submit work on Word documents. Orals at school are virtually non-existent and when they do happpen, they are read rather than presented without notes. And then the reading leaves much to be desired.
Technology isn’t bad in itself – it’s choosing to allow it to control our existence that is the problem. We are so busy staring at screens that life is passing us by and we aren’t even realising it. That sunset you missed because you were too busy chatting on Facebook; its gone! That opportunity you had to play soccer with your son ; it’s gone because you were too busy watching TV! That chance you had to join your daughter for a tea party in her room; it’s gone because you were too busy checking how many likes you had on twitter. That dream you had of making a real difference in the world is gone because you were living in cyber space.
Technology wasn’t created to control us, it was made to help us. You need to decide whether or not you are in control, because if you don’t, you might find that you miss the last sunset of your life.