It has been a most interesting weekend here at school. No, I’m not talking about incredible conversations with deep and probing questions, hilarious stories that will live for generations to come, or even a really great meal at saga. It has been a weekend filled with Halloween parties. On Friday night, it was the TKE party, and last night it was the KDRs, and the SAEs. The good news about this is that we are over half way through the round of parties! Only the LCAs and PDTs still have to go. The bad news is that there is still another weekend where so many of my fellow students feel the need to get all dressed up in ridiculous and frequently indecent costumes, and get drunk out of their minds.
As I was walking back to my dorm building after church this morning, I was surprised at the amount of activity on campus. There were lots of people walking around. It is normally pretty dead on Sunday morning. As I got closer to groups of people, I noticed that many of them were still wearing their costumes from the night before. There were some very obvious hangover issues. This afternoon, the pictures started popping up on facebook. It was absolutely incredible to see some of the things people were willing to do, willing to be photographed doing, and willing to put online for the whole world to see. I have been sitting here, mourning for my generation, when it hit me: We brought this on ourselves.
Last summer, I read an article from the Associated press about things that were popular amongst college students. This survey said that iPod was more popular and more “in” amongst college students than beer. In the 18 years that this survey has been taken, that has only happened one other time: in 1997, when the Internet briefly reigned supreme. With the margin of error in this particular survey, the top three items (iPod, beer, and facebook) are probably tied.
Doesn’t that say a lot about the priorities of my generation? Every day, I walk out of class, and as soon as the door is cleared, most people are on their cell phones. Checking voicemail, making calls, or texting. I will admit to being guilty of this too. There isn’t any conversation about what we have just learned. We aren’t interacting with the people we are going to share somewhere around 50 hours of our life with over the course of the semester. We are on our cell phones.
When the time comes to write a research paper, most of us plop down at our personal computers in our dorm rooms, and in a matter of seconds, we have all of the information at our fingertips that we need. No more sitting in the library inundated with stacks of books. A quick search on JSTOR, or Project Muse has revealed everything we ever wanted to know (plus some) about the topic at hand. We copy and paste our quotes into word documents that are nicely typed and double spaced. The word count tool is easily accessible to make sure that we don’t write one single sentence more than is required. After the big paper is done, the ever-present lifeline (also known as the cell phone) is temporarily laid aside for a guitar hero controller, or a Wii stick, or the computer keyboard for facebook and IM.
My generation is completely consumed with technology. I wonder if we would be able to survive a day without computers, iPods, cell phones, and video games? But back to the topic at hand… Why are so many of my peers willing to get themselves into such ridiculous situations, then post incriminating evidence on their very own profiles? It could be because we are just plain stupid and don’t think through our actions… But as I have sat here thinking about it tonight, I think that the technology, and more importantly, our response to it is a bigger culprit.
So much of our communication and interaction takes place through the dim, reassuring light of a LCD screen that we forget (or perhaps never learned) how to interact in “real life.” That little screen provides a barrier between us and the world. It doesn’t matter what gets put up, because it is just facebook. Facebook is just for fun, and so is everything on it. It is very easy to forget that the images represent something that is very real when they are instantly rendered in LCD on our digital cameras and cell phones. This makes it possible for my peers, some of whom are quite capable of thinking, to abandon all semblance of reason, and post pictures from frat parties on facebook. Do I think there are deeper, spiritual issues here as well? Absolutely. But I also think that technology, while not the main culprit, plays a bigger role than we typically think about.
Should I go find a milk crate to stand on in the middle of campus, and shout my findings to anyone who will listen? Perhaps I should take a very large, venerable tome of learning and smash the computer that I used to write this blog post into very tiny pieces. Maybe I should stop thinking and just go to bed…
… I think I’m going to go check my facebook.