How well are we seen behind a screen?

My generation is involved.

My generation is active.

We’re guilty for being so operative…

…And enjoying every part of it.

Has our obsession with shiny new toys and tools and gadgets and platforms dawned upon us as beneficial?  In my humble opinion, electronic media has certainly altered the way the world can see the rest of the world.  Personally, I always find myself staring at some sort of screen, whether it is my iPod, laptop computer, TV (which is rare, unless Glee is on), or BlackBerry… Most of us can admit to being addicted to these exciting technologies that are readily available to literally everyone.

Just how obsessed are we? By the numbers.

Have you ever woken up in the middle of the night, Smartphone by your pillow side, and checked your tweets or Facebook notifications? Guilty? Weirded out? You’re not alone… Nearly half of us do the same thing.

Do you peek at your news feed or Twitter stream during meetings, class, sex, meals, or potty time? What’s that…? Yes? A whopping 62% of us do. Whatcha lookin’ at?!

Does this surprise anyone?

How accurately do others “see” us when we are online?  Do we talk online the same way we talk to people in person? Are our lives being more positively or negatively affected by this entire media?  It certainly isn’t an effective way to prevent carpel tunnel, loss of hearing, strained eyes, or obesity.  My information technology instructor last semester always joked to our class about how social media is simply “reverse stalking.” Nowadays, instead of people having to find out where we are themselves, we tell them.  Tools and tactics such as geo-tagging, tweeting, location-based outlets, and other platforms let other users no where we are and what we are doing. Word to the wise: Most people don’t care what color socks you’re wearing. Make your tweets memorable and allow people to engage in conversation based on what you tell everybody.

On a completely different note, I recently learned about William Wordsworth in my British literature class. “The World is Too Much with Us” was my favorite poems by him.  Being the Romantic he was, he emphasized imagination, the beauty of nature, and how people (even way back in the day) did not spend enough time enjoying the Creator’s gifts to Earth:

The world is too much with us; late and soon,

Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers

Little we see in Nature that is ours

We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!

The Sea that bares her bosom to the moon

The winds that will be howling at all hours,

And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers

For this, for everything, we are out of tune

It moves us not.–Great God! I’d rather be

A Pagan suckled in a creed outworn

So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,

Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn

Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea

Or hear old Triton blow his wreathed horn.

In “The world is too much with us,” Wordsworth seems disappointed with Earth’s populace for not being connected to nature.  Not only are people disrespectful of Earth’s beauty, but also unappreciative and oblivious.  The sea, moon, and winds are personified, which can symbolize the expected unity and relationship between humans and Earth.  Wordsworth is trying to make it a point that we all share this planet and should treat it like one of us humans, i.e. care for it, be loyal to it, respect it, etc.

I did some research on the meaning of the sonnet… Wordsworth is criticizing the materialism of the early 1800s.  People are “getting and spending” – Whatever they earn, they spend it on themselves and have little concern for the wellbeing of others or nature itself.  The line “We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!” makes me think that Wordsworth was trying to inform people that they have surrendered to the money-oriented and acquisitive social norms of the time.  It humored me that nowadays, humanity is still extremely materialistic, even more so than the period in which this poem was written.  Technologies have come about that have made us a lot more dependent on machines and electronics, and the Industrial Age is what really sparked the change in society’s reliance on these.  In today’s Information Age, people are constantly behind some sort of screen, whether it is a television, cell phone, computer, or any other electronic device.  Wordsworth would not enjoy being surrounded by what he would consider a modern monstrosity.

Wordsworth’s disgust, sorrow and frustration are shown by his obvious lamentation over society’s need for luxury and selfish fulfillment.  He is trying to make a point that people are letting the earth-shifting movement take away from the marvel of nature, possibly to the point at which people fail to notice its beauty.

Do I love social media? Absolutely. Am I willing to admit that I am becoming absorbed in the evolving media world among us? Indeed, I am. We still need to pay attention to our natural habitat and take advantage of what beauty surrounds us.

Now I feel like taking a walk out in this winter wonderland. Too bad Glee is on in one hour…

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  1. When I saw that 11% of people under 25 don’t have a problem being interrupted with an electronic message durnig sex, I definitely thought WOW and mannn would I not want to be that person’s significant other. I also noticed the general differences between those under 25 vs. over 25 years old. Since we’ve grown up with this technological evolution of MySpace, blogging, Facebook, texting, tweeting, facechat, etc…we would be the ones that are more “ok” with the interruptions. How appropriate they are, that’s another story.

    While I do engage in some social media, more so now in Gee’s class than ever before, I do think our generation needs to draw a line when it comes to being on our phones. In the middle of meeting? Yah, that’s going to impress the boss…not. Out to lunch or dinner? Just keep your phone in your purse or pocket, engage in conversation with those around you instead. And the ever popular topic of distracted driving, the text/fb post/email can wait until you get to your destination – if it’s really important, someone will call you.

  2. The numbers you shared about our engagement with technology are scary, but indubitably true. If I have my phone even in different room than I am, I feel lost. Our society have come to depend on technology for better or worse. It’s a way for us to connect with one another and I don’t think that this will ever change. It’s funny because last night I was out to dinner with three friends and as we were waiting for the waitress to bring our credit cards back after paying, the three of us were all texting. It’s the reality of the twenty-first century, but there definitely needs to be a place where we can draw a line.

    • irenephilomena
    • February 28th, 2011

    I loved this post. I could not believe how many people allow technology to interrupt their daily lives. The fact that people allow themselves to become distracted during sex or meals is extremely disturbing to me. I feel that although the way in which our generation has become involved in social media is a bit overwhelming. I think that the benefits to using social media as a tool to conduct work is very positive. However, the tendency for one to become too addicted to this new way of life should be watched with caution. Life passes quickly and for this reason I think that it is important to enjoy the quiet that social media can often interfere with.

  3. Wow these numbers are unreal. I know our generation revolves around technology and my roommates and I often joke about how we sit in front of the TV with our computers being completely anti-social because we are consumed in social networks. It’s kind of messed up. I can’t believe how many people let texts interrupt them and I know I personally feel really rude if I’m out with friends and completely involved with my phone, and even worse if it is with someone I don’t know as well as a friend. I feel like future generations are going to have to take etiquette classes that revolve around technology.

    • kshanley
    • April 4th, 2011

    I really like this post. Just goes to show how technology and specifically social media are taking over our lives and consuming too much of our time and our attention. Very interesting facts.

  4. The more that technology evolves and becomes integrated in everything we do these numbers will definitely go up. We are only going to become more dependent on technology which has its pros and cons. I am on my laptop constantly and I do enjoy a number of TV programs but I’d like to think I have enough self control to tell myself when I should turn off the electronics and go outside. From the numbers you gave I don’t think that the younger generations will be able to do that.

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