Does Technology Inhibit Interaction?

I recently went to a new acquaintance’s house to watch a movie. Instead of having thoughtful conversations on the provoking narrative film, she spent the entire two hours pounding away at the keys on her new iPhone.

In the waiting-room at a local business, I noticed a man carrying a bag with a mysterious patch stitched across the front. Before I opened my mouth to ask him about it I was distracted by a distant noise. What in the world is that? Oh, his headphones. It’s too bad the man was “indisposed” at that moment, and I still wonder what that curious emblem was all about.

What shocked me most was at a recent political event, local students and citizens were invited to hear some of the candidates speak about their political philosophies, and the upcoming election. The man across from me pulled out his cell phone and began texting right in the middle of a speech.

Maybe it’s just me, but these examples strike me as shockingly rude and an unnecessary overuse of technology. Of course these are just personal examples – there are far worse. For example, some students use their cell phones during class, prohibiting them from getting the education that tax dollars are paying for.

But all of this is besides the point. It leads to a more important question – does technology inhibit valuable interaction? Some may answer this question with a resounding “yes” while the other side of the spectrum answers no, and in fact points out examples in which technology actually enhances social experiences.

I think there is a boundary between these two answers.

Social network sites like Facebook and Twitter undoubtedly allow people to make valuable connections, and share information in an accessible, quick manner. But what happens when people misuse or overuse such sites (really – I don’t need to hear about the sandwich you had for lunch or your latest trip to the restroom).

iPods are a nice way to pump you up for your morning jog, share your musical interests with friends, and store thousands of your favorite tracks – easily accessible when you want to relax after a long day at school or work.

However, if you become one of those obsessive – headphones are basically glued to your ears user, you can miss out on some valuable social interactions. When many iPod users put on their little white earphones they enter a new world – their own world. In their minds, they might be dancing to some old Aerosmith or Beatles tunes, being serenaded by Justin Bieber, or even center-starring in their own musical or sold-out concert, but to the rest of their world they are staring blankly across the room as if they have become some kind of robot. Such instances reduce the traditional casual conversations enjoyed by our ancestors, and chances to meet new people and network with others.

Cell Phones. It’s an undeniable fact that cell phones enhance our communication. You know the saying “I’m just a phone call away?” Well that actually wasn’t always true. I remember watching a Little House on the Prairie episode when Pa went far away to work with miners, and Laura, Ma, and Mary were all huddled together, worried whether their Pa was alright. I thought to myself, ‘if only they had cell phones (or any phones at that time for that matter), they could find out if their beloved Pa was alright instead of worrying about their beloved, inaccessible Pa.’

They could have used a few cell phones

Cell Phones allow us to easily connect with family, friends, colleagues, employers, and connect with people we haven’t met before (for interviews and other reasons). The only disadvantage I see with cell phones is the overuse of texting. It’s a personal pet peeve of mine to get together with a friend and watch them text away in the middle of our conversation. Does this really make the other person feel appreciated and respected? I have even heard horror stories of people texting during the middle of job interviews. Yikes!

The point of all of this is that, technology is an amazing accomplishment for our generation. It has opened new venues of communication, made life more enjoyable, and has even created new jobs! But technology must be used wisely and in moderation.

When going out in public, I would advise you to keep texting and iPod listening to a minimum if you want to meet some new potential Facebook friends.

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4 thoughts on “Does Technology Inhibit Interaction?

  1. I’ll have to agree with the texting while I’m talking to you part. Leave the stupid phone alone for 5 minutes, and have a converastion! The headphones, sometimes are a wonderful way to block out distractions, and get work done. I like to listen to a podcast while I work in the yard, or do mundane tasks around the house. It seems like it’s no time, and the work is done.

  2. Great post, on a very relevant topic, which myself and friends always discuss (in a conversation)
    I dont think Technology inhibits interraction, however it has changed the way we interract with eachother e.g text messaging, facebook messaging and status’ etc.The art of conversation is definately being lost!

  3. I completely agree with your assessment. I truly believe that cellphones, Ipods, social media, etc are taking the true personality and benefits out of daily human interaction. I read an article a while ago where scientists in the UK did a case study regarding the overuse of Facebook. The scientists kept some people off of FB for a month and the test subjects started to show the same withdraw symptoms that smokers have when quitting smoking. After looking for it a bit I realized that I actually saved that article! Here is the web address – Thanks for the comment, much love!

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