Contrary to popular belief, the end of human kind will not come suddenly, taking the shape of a mushroom cloud in the red sky. The destruction of society is already underway, and you can see it at the library, in lecture halls, on Bascom hill, walking Charter Street and in State Street cafés.
A few weeks ago I read that a UW student ran into a mounted policeman while texting. That's right; one of our own was so busy, so wrapped up in the digital world, that they walked into a thousand- pound quadruped. I also recently witnessed a girl on her cell phone step off the curb and directly into the path of an oncoming cyclist. We've recently learned that texting while driving is just as dangerous as drunken driving. A Virginia Tech study found that the collision risk for drivers who are texting is twenty three times greater than those who are not.
But technology does not just reduce our life expectancy through absent-minded dedication to your phone; it threatens the very foundations of our society. This may sound dramatic, but consider the fact that you can no longer go study at the library without hearing someone's phone go off. Usually it doesn't just ring, it also gets answered. And then you and everyone else get to hear Susie badmouth her roommate or recount the previous evening's escapades to her mom. In short, technology is making us rude.
Just the other day I was holding the door of the library for the young man entering after me. My mom taught me to do this. Normally, the person behind me reaches out and grabs the door, occasionally thanking me, and then enters the library. But on this special day the young man behind me, who was on his phone I might add, passed right through the open door like he was a king. He was so wrapped up in his conversation via light waves that I was left hanging, literally.
I have had the pleasure of witnessing one of my fellow students taking a ""which True Blood character are you"" facebook quiz in the middle of lecture. I have over heard a telephone interview being conducted at Espresso Royale. And I was also encouraged to tweet in the middle of Michael Pollan's lecture.
What did students do in lecture before the advent of Wi-Fi and Facebook? What happened to the days when private conversations took place in private? How did we survive the Distinguished Lecturer Series without Tweets? What happened to just plain old mouth-to-ear conversation?
Most importantly, what happened to the good old days of boys actually calling girls to ask them out on a date? Call me old fashioned, but e-mails, text messages and wall posts are just somehow less romantic.
If we do not get our heads out of our Blackberrys and laptops we're going to miss the beautiful world around us. Not only will we fail to see that horse or bike or car headed our way, but more importantly, we will miss out on life.
Life does not take place in the digital realm. No matter how many friends you may have on Facebook, if you can't hold the door open for the person behind you, look them in the eye, and say ""thank you,"" your life will be very empty.
Regardless of how successful and accomplished your social networking skills are, if you can't hold a conversation face-to-face, you will never succeed in the real world. A recent Stanford study found that digital multi-tasking ultimately lead to very little actual productivity, as in nothing gets accomplished when you attempt to Twitter, Facebook, e-mail, chat and study at the same time.
Regardless of how accustomed you have become to digital multi-tasking, I challenge you to go out with your friends and leave your cell phone at home. See what happens when all of your attention is focused on the real live interactions with those you care about the most. Show your friends some love and give them your undivided attention when you are together.
Have some respect for your professors by listening attentively for fifty minutes (who knows, you might even get an ‘A' on the mid-term). What it so important, so crucial, that we can't go fifty minutes without checking our inbox? I promise, if someone texts you during class, the message will still be there when the bell rings.
Demonstrate some common courtesy for your fellow human by being aware of your surroundings. Don't alienate yourself from the real world and its flesh-and-blood interactions. If or when all else goes away, the Internet crashes or electricity flows no more, people will still be here (hopefully.) & Hpfly ull stil rmbr how 2 communic8.
Kathy Dittrich is a senior majoring in English and French. We welcome all feedback. Please send responses to firstname.lastname@example.org.