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The Daily Illini

Technology isn’t driving us further apart

Saketh Vasamsetti, Columnist

With every passing day, 353,000 babies are born and will slowly grow up in the most connected generation of children our world has ever seen. Evolution is a phenomenon that takes time to be seen, but with technology’s endless ceiling of restrictions we can witness it every single day.

Ross Douthat, an Op-Ed columnist for The New York Times, argued for a social and political movement he called “digital temperance” in his most recent column. Douthat is concerned that within certain limits, society can enjoy the benefits of technology, but it has come to the point where technology is now needed in order for the user to grow …  rather than the other way around.

From the sound of it, digital temperance seems like both heaven and hell.

In today’s time, it is a phenomenal feat for a group of friends to last an entire dinner without one of them pulling out a phone at least once. At the same time, however, it gives me anxiety just thinking about going off to my classes without having my phone on me.

Douthat essentially symbolizes technology as the “tyrant in your pocket,” which is true, to a certain extent. However, we owe much of mankind’s success to technology. It is a physical display of progress. It constantly inspires and spurs hunger to help the world evolve now rather than years from now.

A psychological study uncovered that young adults are on their phone for about five hours per day. While that number doesn’t seem very big, the startling idea was that the psychologists stated that participants in the study checked their phones more than double the amount they had estimated. A majority of general technology use is becoming unconscious — We can’t remember if we checked our phone a minute ago, so why not check again?

This is where “digital temperance” might come into play as a benefit. Excessive use of technology is known to disrupt sleeping patterns, cause stress and diminish productivity levels.

So yes, a break from technology would be nice, but an all out exile isn’t necessary.

Technology shows its benefits in both small and large ways. Being the first generation of my family to grow up in the United States, there is a lot of culture and history that has been left behind with my family living in India.

But with a simple video call, I can easily speak with them and bridge that gap between our lives.

Not only can we use technology for our own benefits, but it also encourages everyone to step up and be their own creators.

Corporations such as Kickstarter are dedicated to global crowdfunding of various projects. Thousands of people display their innovative ideas and hope to raise enough money to fund their projects and send them off into the real world. Kickstarter is one example that has paved the way for people to go out and create, not only for themselves but for the well-being of the world.

Most of today’s success stories contain tales of grit, of grace under pressure and most importantly of creativity in pursuing that success.

The number of start-up companies coming into the spotlight with creators in their 20s is increasing rapidly and is sure enough a representation of how society is becoming more technologically oriented.

The “tyrant” in our pocket is a tyrant for progressiveness, and that’s something humanity will always need.

Saketh is a freshman in DGS.

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