Social skills impeded by technology

You walk across campus. You see a friend from class. You wave at him but instead of waving back, he continues, focusing his eyes on his cell phone screen, texting intently. You walk through the Student Center lounge on your way back to the dorm. You see your roommate hanging out there. You try to say hi, but your words are wasted because he has headphones on, blasting music into his ears.

Perhaps you want to study with a group of people Thursday night for your test Friday. You try to set up a time, but everyone has appointments throughout the evening – not with friends – but with the television. To miss “Grey’s Anatomy” or “The Office” is an unforgivable sin.

It seems that in today’s culture, people are addicted to electronics. They are everywhere. What happened to the days when people actually socialized face-to-face? People today seem to interact more with digital devices than with each other.

Yes, electronics have opened a new door to communication possibilities and have made life much more convenient. However, electronics also have disadvantages.

One of the most egregious faults of electronic devices is hindering interpersonal skills.

Imagine a world without electronics.

Now, imagine you’re walking across campus and see somebody you know. What do you do? Maybe you might stop by and say a few words, thereby cultivating your friendship.

You head to the library. People are actually studying. Nobody is surfing the internet to check the latest celebrity gossip or Facebook-stalk their cousin’s ex-boyfriend’s roommate.

But let’s snap back to reality.

A recent study by mobile industry tracker Telephia showed that 18 to 24-year-olds spend nearly 22 hours per month using their cell phones.

Another study showed that students listen to music about 2.5 hours per day. When you walk across campus, you can easily see why these numbers are so high. Almost everyone is either talking on their cell phone or listening to their iPod.

Not only do electronics hinder the development of our interpersonal communication skills, but they can also be just plain rude. Sometimes I want to grab the phone out of someone’s hands and throw it on the ground so they actually look at me during our conversation. It’s not that I think I’m so high and mighty that I actually deserve people’s attention; it’s just that there are some basic rights everyone deserves – one of which is the right to have a two-way conversation.

Electronics have greatly enhanced our lives, however, today’s society is addicted to them. Electronics are like an opiate.

They provide security: “If I’m not cool enough to have somebody call me at 9:55 a.m., then I at least need to call my mom while I’m walking so people think I’m popular when they see me on my cell phone.”

If people in this generation are so obsessed with electronics, just imagine what it will be like in future generations.

I challenge you for a day – just a day – to try not to text while you are talking with someone. Resist the urge to check e-mail in class. Say hello to the people you know when you see them walking across campus rather than ranting to your mother about how nobody calls you. Just try it. Who knows, you might actually enjoy interacting with other people instead of electronics.

Christina Durano is a sophomore broadcast journalism major from Albuquerque, N.M.