Recognize Internet, life as connected


Technology is the new society. Just ask the 2,000 college students from across the world who participated in a study conducted by the International Center for Media and Public Affairs at the University of Maryland. The study asked these students to give up their cellphones, the Internet and other devices for 24 hours and then record their experiences. Perhaps you will be shocked to learn that many students who participated experienced symptoms of withdrawal similar to the sort of things that drug addicts experience. Then again, why would you be shocked by this? Technology is no longer just a part of life — for many, it is life.

Think about it: As a University student, could you successfully go 24 hours without the Internet? That's highly doubtful. How would you get in touch with your professors or access assigned readings posted online? Even if your homework assignments were doable without the Internet, there is a good chance you wouldn't be able to access your syllabus to even check the assignment, as many professors upload their syllabi to Sakai.

Then there's the question of maintaining your purely social relationships. When was the last time you set up a social gathering of some sort without Facebook or a cellphone? Think, too, of how much you would miss out on — invitations to parties, group study sessions and even simple chats with your friends or relatives. Many of our day-to-day social activities require technology to orchestrate them. For example, it would be terribly difficult to maintain a close relationship with your parents while away at school if you did not have a cellphone to call them anytime you wanted.

Asking these students to go 24 hours without technology is, in today's world, asking them to go 24 hours without social connections. Like it or not, social bonds are maintained and cultural innovations and transmitted in large part via the Internet. The question of whether this is a good thing is a topic for another day. Right now, we only want to draw attention to the fact that we have become embedded in technology to the point that it is a part of nearly every aspect of our lives.


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