Kelsey Jaeger: Manifesto

We should not allow our constant connectedness to technology hamper our independence.

In Alone Together, Sherry Turkle discussed how constantly being tethered to our technologies has greatly hindered the growing up process for many people. She writes that “tethered” children today “know they have a parent on tap—a text or a call away” (172). In this cell phone generation, it is hard to take initiative and figure out any questions we have for ourselves when help from parents or the Internet is a couple button presses away. I adopted this principle because, although I feel I am independent enough living eight hours away from any family, I still call my parents when I have an issue I feel I can’t solve myself. My windshield cracked about a week ago, and I immediately called my dad to see what I should do; and right away he took control of the situation. He called a company to make an appointment to fix my windshield without my ever having to lift a finger. I didn’t even need to drive anywhere; the repairman came right to my car. If I didn’t have a cell phone, or any way to contact my dad, I would have had to take the initiative and get the windshield fixed myself; and if that were the situation, I know I would have been able to figure it out. And yet, I didn’t have to, and I probably won’t the next time. Turkle writes “…And adolescents don’t face the same pressure to develop the independence we have associated with moving forward into young adulthood,” (173) and I agree. Because we are “always-on,” we do not feel the pressure to solve problems ourselves. And when this topic was brought up in class, the majority believed technology definitely has the ability to hinder our independence, and that is why this principle is so important.

Technology should not replace human interactions.

Amanda Hess, a writer for Slate Magazine, has dubbed technology the main reason behind the loss of courtship; and I fully agree. It has been said that this generation hides behind technology; that we use our cell phones and computers to portray a different persona than what we really are. It is a lot easier to be who we want to be using our lap tops and cell phones. We choose social media sites and texting over actually meeting up with or talking to someone. Technology killed courtship, yes, but that’s just the beginning. Yes, romantic relationships have drastically changed over the years, but familial and business relationships have also changed. I know that many of us are still capable of holding a conversation, of successfully completing an interview, but talking in person, or even on the phone, is something we often try to avoid. But, no matter how much technology changes social situations, we cannot avoid them forever. Online communities are great, and we should embrace them, but that should not be the only interaction we have with people. In the long run, human interactions are much more beneficial and rewarding than those interactions that we have with technology. This principle should be taken seriously because it has become so easy to use technology in place of actual human interactions. It will never be the norm to not be able to hold a simple conversation, and that may be the direction we are heading in.

We ought to be aware of what we put on social media sites.

Throughout this semester, the topic of social media and what we put on those sites has been very prevalent and hits very close to home for all of us. I can say with much certainty that each one of us in this class is a part of at least one social media site or another; and sometimes we are not as concerned about what we add to those sites as we should be. Sure, sites such as Twitter and Facebook can improve communication, and relay information to hundreds of people at once about an important event or occasion. But, it can also pass on information that we don’t necessarily want hundreds of people to see. The line has become blurred as to what information should be put on these sites and what information we should only allow a select few people to see. More and more frequently, potential employers are looking at our social media sites to see if we are fit for the job or not; and that can be potentially disastrous. An article on CNN confirmed that around seventy percent of business managers have decided not to hire a candidate because of what they have found online. My brother’s girlfriend works at a PR company in New York, and has said her boss relies heavily on a potential candidate’s Twitter feed; if the posts are appropriate or not, and if they are up-to-date on current media happenings and issues. This principle should be taken seriously because it is a large part of many of our lives, and although we are all fairly aware of social media’s possible implications on our future, we still may not be as aware as we need to be.

We should not fight the unavoidable growth of technology.

This is another topic brought up often in class; that ever-changing technology is inevitable, and instead of fighting it, we should embrace it. This is a subject that Kevin Kelly feels strongly about; that we feel the progression of technology is up to us, that it is our choice, yet each new technology that comes along we all have to have. It is definitely a choice whether or not to embrace new and greater technologies, but unfortunately, that will most likely mean those that don’t move forward with the technology will get left behind. I agree with many people that the constant change can be irritating. Sometimes it feels that I have just purchased the latest cell phone when the next version comes out. But, after a time with yet another new technology, I feel that all of us question what we ever did before this certain technology came around. I know that now that I have an iPhone, I wonder how I ever got through the day having a phone without Internet; I don’t think I could go back now. Oftentimes it seems as if some technologies are made just because we always want new things, but other times, a new technology is invented to make an older version even better. It’s the theory of evolution. An article written by Mohammad Sheykhi states that “man’s development is dependent on science and technology;” if technology ceases to progress, how are we ever supposed to progress? We are run by technology, whether we want to admit it or not, and if science stops advancing, so do we, and that is why it is such an important principle to adopt.

We should be wary of what we read on the Internet.

David Weinberger is very adamant about this topic, that we cannot believe everything we read, even if a supposed “expert” is writing the information. Anyone, whether old or young, educated or not, can add whatever information they want online, and we need to be very conscious of this issue and not completely believe most of everything that we read. The Internet has given us unrestricted access to unlimited amounts of information, but everyone else in the world has been given that access as well. There are sites that we trust to give us the correct information, with what we assume are fact checkers behind the scenes that are thoroughly looking at all the information, but as Weinberger states, “…Push on a fact hard enough, and you’ll find someone contradicting it. Try to use facts to ground an argument, and you’ll find links to those who disagree with you all the way down to the ground” (41). What searching the Internet for information has come to is “reliable enough.” We all know that all facts and data may not be one hundred percent accurate all of the time, but when we are researching for a paper, project, etc, many of us may decide, although we may not be entirely sure, that what we are reading is accurate, and that it is “reliable enough” information to use. The Internet and all its information is a part of our daily lives, and it is important that we can be sure of that information that we are constantly reading.

Education should remain in the classroom.

Virtual schools and online classes have become much more prevalent today, and continue to grow in popularity. Online classes have been around for awhile, and I’m sure many of us have taken at least one or two, and I think they can be great. But, children as young as kindergarteners are now being introduced to this new, virtual way of learning, and that may be detrimental for them in the long run. I think that physically being in the classroom and having a teacher present is a crucial step in growing up. As college students, we are capable of handling an online class or two, but is a five year old capable? Especially today, many families do not have a parent that is around all day to aid their child in this virtual learning experience, so six and seven year olds are expected to get online and do this work without being told, and without any supervision. An article for the Washington Post wrote that students that did not have an adult coach “were left home alone and did little or no schoolwork.” Virtual learning also takes away important lessons that a typical student would learn while in school. David M. Foster, a member of the Board of Education is Virginia, said that “I’m not sure I want to encourage that… collaborative problem solving, socialization, working with other people is key not just to the global economy but to getting along in life.” In addition to giving responsibility to children as young as five to do their schoolwork, virtual learning also deprives students of other vital life lessons that they should know and need to experience.