Bridging the gap in today’s technology

A long time ago, in a galaxy far away, a new invention changed the way people communicate: the Internet.

The Internet evolved in 1989 when British physicist Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web. Technology was changing in the 1990s — I’m sure you had a Discman for your music and cell phones were as large as a television remote.

While we’re texting, Skyping, Facebook-ing, tweeting, etc., our parents may still be trying to grasp all of these “new” social media inventions. They had to use a typewriter to write papers, and they didn’t have a (gasp!) “delete” button to erase a mistake.

Technology, specifically communicating through the Internet, has changed in so many ways.

Remember when everyone had a Myspace or a Xanga and only the college kids had a Facebook? I remember setting up my Facebook account my sophomore year in high school and “friending” my classmates. It was weird to use the chat function and write on people’s walls, when it was much easier to just tell the person face-to-face what you wanted to tell them.

But there’s a growing trend that more and more people are using the Internet and other forms of media to communicate with one another rather than, say, meeting for coffee — but doesn’t that change the relationship you have with that person?

Some people claim they feel “naked” without their (insert most often used) technology devices at every waking minute, and I fully believe that. I need to check my bag at least five times to make sure I have my phone, my iPod and my computer with me at all times. As weird as this may sound, I can’t imagine my life without them, not even for one minute.

I was in a communications class last semester, learning all about the wonders of the World Wide Web. For one of the assignments, I had to do a “new media” fast, where I had to give up any sort of media-related technology from the 1980s to the present for a full 24 hours. I decided to give up the Internet and really challenge myself; it was a lot harder than I thought.

I had to write a research paper for another class, and without the Internet, I was limited to researching the old-fashioned way through books. Instead of going to Google and searching for information, I hit the encyclopedias and went to work. It definitely took me a lot longer and it was difficult not to be tempted by the open screens at the UGL.

But after the fast was over, I didn’t immediately open up Facebook and post a new status. I learned something from the fast: We’re human, but our use of technology makes us look like robots. We’re so accustomed to everything being right at our fingertips and have to have the latest piece of technology to blend in with the rest of society. Even giving up the simplest piece of technology seems impossible to us. But I dare you to try it. You might learn that technology isn’t everything.

Yet it is still amazing to see how much technology consumes our daily lives, especially compared to our parents’ days.

If you’re like me, there’s probably at least one member of your family (not including siblings) that is on some form of social media. I taught my parents how to Skype when I first went away to college. They know how to text, although they often send me just a little too much information at every waking moment. Both my parents wanted to learn how to use Facebook; my mom couldn’t figure out how to use it, and I had to explain to her what a “news feed” was, while my dad embraced this new “innovation” with open arms, “friending” old acquaintances from high school and college, updating his status about what my mom is cooking for dinner, and posting photos of family vacations. I think he’s a little more obsessed with Facebook than I am. And my mom recently got a Twitter. Although she’s still trying to learn what a “tweet” is.

As for our parent’s generation, I wasn’t surprised when Facebook and Twitter became such a huge hit. It is a great way to connect with old classmates and long-lost relatives, but when you mix the two generations, things might get awkward.

An episode of Saturday Night Live made a parody of a “magic” button to use if your parents are on Facebook. When they comment on any picture of you drinking and partying and become suspicious of your new “friends,” you can press the “button” and it will make a more parent-appropriate picture to share with them. If only that button worked in real life.

But while we might be poking (no pun intended) fun at our parents and grandparents for using social media the way we do, in the next five or 10 years, another innovation will evolve and we’ll be the ones being made fun of.

_Hannah Gettleman is a senior in Media._