Alex Gregg - Manifesto

All middle schools should incorporate the use of technology into the mandatory curriculum.

Although I had a “computer class” in grade school, I never really learned how to apply those skills in meaningful ways. The class was separated from other content areas and left me wondering, “so when will I actually use this in the real world?” Technology is so important in our schools because it prepares students for lives in the future. I use technology every single day, and that fact is not going to change any time soon. Many kids know how to use a computer, but that’s not the point. We need to teach how to use the technology as a tool for organizing, researching, and communicating information. A great way to teach these skills would be to integrate a class project that requires multi-media supplements that related to classroom curriculum. This would also show that technology engages students to the wider world.

Technology should no longer be used to mislead or manipulate an audience.

Today, photo-editing software can manipulate any photo that is uploaded on the Internet. For all of the benefits of Photoshop, there is some serious negativity that surrounds it. Photo editing software has made any photograph obsolete of the truth. We can no longer look at a photograph as proof or evidence of some experience or event. The increased manipulation of photographic images may suit a person’s need for continuous self-remodeling. Photoshop enables a novice photographer to touch up recent photos, but also allows experienced graphic design professionals to create advertisements, logos and marketing pieces. These advertisements can mislead the public into believing something is true or will give you only a half-truth. A misleading ad promises all kinds of things, which may establish the wrong priorities. Ads assure consumers that goods can make them more attractive to the opposite sex, give them power, lift their spirits and bring them instant self-gratification. This can cause people to feel poorly about themselves because they see an unrealistic version of an image.

The U.S government should regulate sales on of violent video games.

Technology has allowed video game developers to create games that are extremely realistic. Although the intention of video games is for entertainment, the gaming world has become something completely different with the violence it depicts. Because players are actively involved with video games, the violent acts are more damaging to a child’s mind than the graphic violence in movies and on TV. Studies show that playing violent video games "increases aggressive thought and behavior" and "engenders poor school performance" in minors. Basically, high levels of violent video game exposure have been linked to delinquency, fighting at school, and potentially violent criminal behavior. Such exposure to violence, sexuality, and aggression will undoubtedly desensitize a child to real-world experiences. The government should enforce the law that prohibits minors from obtaining mature video games. Although there is a law that exists, it is not enforced, and it is up to the government to do so.

We must respect and protect privacy on the Internet.

The Internet is a place to broadcast information—including personal information. Databases of personal information have grown exponentially in number and in variety. Data-mining algorithms can specifically pick out meaningful patterns from extremely large amounts of information and then marketing professionals take that to target their attention to precisely defined subgroups. Is this okay to have information about us as individuals being bought and sold to people without our knowledge? I definitely don’t think so. Personal information now routinely flows across various boundaries. Social networking technologies, such as Facebook, track the movements of people and things. People can follow your every move if you let them, so it’s important to be knowledgeable about privacy issues and know how to protect yourself.

Humans ought to remember that in-person communication is an important part of our lives.

Facebooking, tweeting, emailing, IM-ing, skyping, texting, BBMing… all of these are digital modes of communication. All of these can be extremely helpful when we want to connect with others. However, we can’t forget the good ole’ face-to-face conversations that is necessary for human existence. Electronic communication can be done at any time of the day and can allow you to send the perfect message with much thought behind it. Many times people don’t pick up the phone and call anymore or meet face-to-face. Voice inflection, facial expressions, and body gestures are almost lost as a form of communication. Reading words without knowing the feelings behind them means that emotions are being disregarded. We are all responsible for using less and less personal interaction and relying on technology more and more.

In the digital age, we ought to maintain an environment that will always remind us of our humanity.

Everywhere we go today we are bombarded with the fact that technology is advancing in leaps and bounds and making our lives easier by the second. We are never more than arms length away from our own personal phone, even when driving. As professor Collier says, “We are always plugged in.” In order to remind yourself of your humanity in this technological world, we should get a sense of where our environment can be re-infused with humanity. Placing a plant on your desk, a hand-made drawing on the walls, arranging yourself to see sunlight, disconnecting from your computer and phones to read a book, taking time out of everyday to spend some time outside. We need to begin to limit our exposure to the technological bombardment that surrounds most of us each and every day.

Sherry Turkle’s, Alone Together