A Matter of Time “We don’t own the social graph. The social graph is this thing that exists in the world, and it always has and it always will. It’s really most natural for people to communicate through it, because it’s with the people around you, friends and business connections or whatever construct as accurate of a model as possible of the way the social graph looks in the world” (Levy 426). This was said by the creator of the world-renowned networking site Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg.
Now, there’s nothing wrong with social networking, especially since it is much encouraged in daily development, but it does become problematic when the technology becomes one’s priority, replacing human relationships and putting us on time schedules. It is often overlooked how much one relies on technology to get through the day. We check our emails before we use the restroom in the morning, cell phones are permanently attached to our hands, we listen to the radio in our cars or stream it on public transportation, and some take it one step further, using it to raise their children.
We suffer from a technological addiction, and most of those in our society are completely unaware of this, thus showing how connected we are, but at the same time, how disconnected we are. “On Tuesday, July 31, Shara Karasic’s world came to a temporary halt. Facebook was down…when she couldn’t get in for a few hours, she realized something: ‘I’m addicted to Facebook’” (Levy 424). She is not the only one. Many people are in this same position, no matter what age they are. Karasic may sound like your typical college student, but in honesty, she is actually a 40 year old mom with a young son.
There are a vast variety of users on the web, using these networking sites, such as Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace, where users choose to put their lives on display for anyone who wishes to access it. They provide their name, age, location and personal facts. There is no stereotypical web user on these sites, and regulating the users, the content, or who can access it is difficult. Along with access to such intimate information, MySpace is also known for garnering what is known as “E-popularity” and transforming everyday people into B-class celebrities. One of those people would be Tila Tequila. Her real name is Thien Thanh Thi
Nguyen, born in Singapore to Vietnamese parents in 1981. The twenty-eight year old spent most of her life in the United States and was first discovered at a local shopping mall for Playboy Magazine. She gained her current popularity status by uploading risque photographs of herself in lingerie-like garb and recording bad music. By continuously and shamelessly putting herself out there and making such information available, she attracted much media attention, thus making her into a star. She even got a television show on MTV, the Bachelor-esque “A Shot At Love With Tila Tequila” in which members of both genders competed for her affection.
She is just one of hundreds who has “made a name” for herself in this manner, and she is definitely will not be the last to do so. Millions of users access the web every day, and sometimes they become addicted to these notifications, even if you don’t have the slightest clue as to who this person is. There is a catch, however. On the internet, you have the ability to be a fourteen-year-old girl when you might actually be a fifty-seven-year-old man. At least two million dollars has been spent over the last ten years in order to provide technological access in public schools.
These computers would be designated to enhance the education offered to the students, but they would be taken advantage of for personal enjoyment by these students. “In practice, however, computers make our worst educational nightmares come true computers discount words in favor of pictures and pictures in favor of video. Dismiss linear argument and promote fast, shallow romps across the information landscape. While we worry about basic skills, we allow into the classroom software that will do a student’s arithmetic or correct his spelling” (Gelernter 314).
The misuse of technology is actually dumbing down the students instead of educating them, and technology has also taken over the parenting role in these kids’ lives, especially at a young age, when a parent sits their child in front of a television and pops in the Baby Einstein. This is meant to educate the child. In some form, it does stimulate the mind, but it also deprives the child of that much-needed human relation formed with the parent and others around them and physical access to the actual world. This can lead to the child being non-active in outdoor activities and sports, which immensely affects their physical and mental ealth. Interestingly enough, some games toddlers engage in physical activity. In one game a stationary bike plugs into the television set and the toddler “goes for a ride. ” This does not mean that these advancements in technology are necessarily bad or good, it depends on the use or misuse of them. Gelernter’s short essay “Unplugged,” concludes with, “We should not forget what computers are. Like books-better in some ways, worse in others-they are devices that help children mobilize their own resources and learn for themselves” (316).
When a child is deprived of that much-needed human relationship, it affects the way they see the world and those around them. This is visible in the case of a young man who was asked to draw a depiction of his parents as he viewed them, and his drawing exhibited “a man with his hands held up in surrender and surrounded by clocks, carried the caption: ‘This is my father. ’ A ninth grader drew a picture of his mother as a clock” (Rosenblatt 379). This illustrates how much of an impact time has on our culture. The United States, as a whole, is run by time. This is due to the pressure to get as much done in as little time possible.
Human relations seem to have become an inconvenience to our everyday lives. It’s the same way in Japan, except that the Japanese have better time management so that they are still able to preserve that important human relation with one another. Different cultures have different values, and one of those values is definitely the human relationship. For example, if one was to visit a Native American reservation, they would find that this small but tight-knit culture places a huge emphasis on getting to know each other on a very personal basis, something we tend to overlook.
A friend of mine recently made a visit to an out-of-state reservation and spent some time with the natives. In doing so, he was enlightened to find that they were truly intrigued by who he was as a person, in terms of his sociability and willingness to become connected personally. One girl in particular stood out to him. She possessed the capability to read a person and obtain a sense of who they are. The tight knit community she was raised in gave her insight to personal connections and the ability to discover a genuine person.
If we were able to devote even half that much time to get to know each other on a personal level as these people do, we would have stronger relations and bonds with each other, as well as an incredibly strong sense of self. A person who spends all their time being someone on the internet will never have the ability to truly express who they are, and also, they have no real sense of who they are themselves. If you were to ask who they are, they would probably hesitate and try to figure out the best way to answer that.
Instead of being comfortable with themselves, they’d identify as whoever they’d like to appear as online. It’s important to build true human relationships with one another, and interaction between people has drastically changed and it will continue to do so. We as a society deserve to see each other as individuals with needs and desires, instead of inanimate objects that somehow depict and terrorize our lives with stress and schedules. People need to know how to express themselves in the real world outside of technological personas, because when online, one is simply hiding behind a digital mask.
Works Cited Rosenblatt, Roger. “Can the Family Be Saved? The Society That Pretends To Love Children. ” The New York Times. 8 Oct 1995, Print. Gelernter, David. “Unplugged” The Concious Reader Ed. Caroline Shrodes et. al. 11th ed. New York: Pearson, 2009. 314-316 Print. Levy, Steven. “Facebook Grows Up” The Concious Reader Ed. Caroline Shrodes et. al. 11th ed. New York: Pearson, 2009. 424-430 Print. “Tila Tequila Biography. ” tilatequilabiography. com ©2009 WordPress Theme. “A Matter of Time” library. thinkquest. org ©2007 ThinkQuest.