Megan Garber’s article “Saving the Lost Art of Conversation” details a study by MIT psychologist Sherry Turkle regarding the loss of conversation to population’s technological absorption. It appears that people young and old prefer the clean, well-organized conversations that occur via text message and e-mail to the messy, interruption-prone conversations that comprise actual human interactions. Essentially, Turkle believes people are talking at one another, not with each other.
And she’s probably right. You would have to be living under a rock not to notice the incredible influence that technology has on our lives as students. The BC look-away isn’t complete unless you’re slamming your face into your iPhone screen in the process. There isn’t a single lecture in memory that didn't go half ignored in favor of Facebook stalking your friends studying abroad. If you didn’t refresh your Agora Portal every 46 seconds to see if a new grade was posted, then I don’t even know who you are anymore.
Studies from the Pew Research Center at Harvard University found that 78% of teens between the ages of twelve to seventeen now have a cellphone - almost half of which are smartphones. With technology as the focal point of the lives of mere twelve year-olds, it’s no wonder that genuine conversation has been lost. How are we supposed to learn how to communicate with one another when it’s so much easier to hide behind a computer screen or a cellphone?
Since New Year’s Resolutions are popular this month, I think it is only right to propose a few to incorporate into your already long (and likely failing) list. Therefore, I give you 5 ways to unplug this semester:
1. Be With Yourself
You don’t have to be a hippie to meditate, and honestly you don’t even have to meditate. Just try to take five minutes out of every day for yourself. Turn off your TV, silence your phone, shut your laptop, and just sit. You’ll think more clearly and you’ll feel much more relaxed. Promise.
No, I know you don’t actually have self-control. I mean the computer app. If you have a Mac you can download an app called SelfControl for free that blocks whatever sites you find most addicting and distracting. It will not only keep you from avoiding your papers, but also from Facebook stalking your ex’s new girlfriend.
3. Go. To. Their. Room.
This is the year to stop angry texting. I know it’s so much easier to text “It’s not you, it’s me lololol byeeeee,” but it’s a lot nicer to speak to people in person. Even if you’re going to break up with her or insult him, the least you could do is respect that person enough to give him or her some face time.
4. Write a Letter
Like an actual, handwritten, heart-felt letter. It’s so much nicer to receive a letter that you know the other person took time to sit down and write with her own hand than a text. How wonderful would you feel if you got a letter asking you out to dinner instead of a “yo u hungry?” text? Exactly. Romance.
5. When Absolutely Necessary, At Least Call
Yes, you can Skype your friends and family or Snapchat your mom pictures of your empty refrigerator when you need to, but wouldn’t it be so much better to just pick up the phone and call? Distance is a real thing, and talking in person isn’t always feasible. So, at least call. Calling isn’t "technically" unplugging, I know, but eating watermelon candy isn’t technically eating more fruit.
Honorable mention: try asking people how they are before immediately asking them for something (especially when calling home). I don’t know, just an idea.
Feature image courtesy of Jaene Ellis via Flickr.