On Technology

On Technology

critical essay by Justin Zhu, age 15

It is too often that we see people glued to their phones, tablets and electronic devices. In our fast-paced, quick-fix society, technology appears to always be the answer, but is it truly the solution to all of our problems? Apparently, the facts pertaining to modern technology point towards a common conclusion. The National Highway Safety Administration has declared that texting while driving is now the leading cause of death for teen drivers. The National Crime Victimization Survey reports that suicide rates have dramatically increased from cyberbullying. Even the term “social media” has become a modern irony—since when is staring at an electronic screen considered “social”?

Technology in today’s society has changed the way we interact; it’s creating a new era of isolation. When was the last time you saw children running around and playing with dirt rather than tapping with Flappy Bird? How many friends on your Facebook account are friends you could go have a face-to-face conversation with right now? We start to remove our complex emotional attributes with simple, artless emojis. We erase our mistakes and present an unoriginal, processed part of our true selves. Just take a look at Facebook and Instagram. Apart from the ridiculous duck faces and selfies, our friends, family, and even that one Uncle Joe has become more and more self-centered around a virtual world where human contact is virtually nonexistent. A touch screen made in the factories of Southeast Asia is more valuable than gold.

I, for one, am still a novice when it comes to technology interaction. After years of a childhood playing outside, creating an email account was my highlight of the century. Thus, when I asked my friends if they wanted to come over to my house to play soccer, they say, “Nah, gotta beat level 5 on Clash of Clans.” When I try to initiate a conversation with a person sitting right next to me, they shrug me off and continue to check their tweets. Now, I respect people’s personal privacy, but have we as a society really progressed to the point in which a simple greeting is seen as a nuisance—an act of public disturbance?

In today’s society, technology has reached the point where it is affecting not only how we pursue life, but also what our life is limited to. Don’t know who is Elon Musk? Try searching on Wikipedia. Got nothing to do? Go spend an hour on YouTube watching humorous cat videos. Got a flu? Nobody’s got time to go visit a doctor, so just go to WebMD! Our society has elevated technology to a godly status, in which anything that contains computers, iPhones, or tablets are seen as the perfect answer to everything, including education. However, according to Bill Gates, the person we most think of when it comes to embracing technology says, “Technology is just a tool. In terms of getting the kids working together and motivating them, the teacher is the most important.” Wait a minute, there’s something called teachers? Hold on, let me ask Siri about that!

Indeed, teachers and all other sorts of humanly contact are soon going to be a dying relic of the past. It was once thought that in the future, humans were going to fight with robots for world domination. Instead, technology has changed us in that we are not too far from being robots ourselves. We must learn that too much contact with technology is not a healthy way to live life. Technology is like a cane; we’ll need to lean on it every now and then, but we must not rely on it forever.

As the clock starts to tick away the precious years of our lives, we start to realize the true implications of our interactions with technology. Robert Frost eloquently acknowledges the inevitable—“Nothing gold can stay.” In ten years from now, would you be able to say with great conviction, “I am glad I spent my time doing something worthwhile? I have embraced my family, friends, and life more than technology? I have seized the moment rather than Instagramming it on my iPhone?” Those are the opportunities that are slipping away when we spend a couple of minutes texting rather than talking, tapping rather than thinking, and emoji-ing rather than embracing what life has to offer.

So, please, the next time you are about to open your phone and spend copious amounts of time staring at your technological device, do yourself a favor and put it away. Learn to appreciate the world around you, and more importantly, the life within you.

2015 Scholastic Writing Awards Silver Key, Silver Medal

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