Section: archive

Technology Faceoff: What we have to lose

By Simon Szybist

Everything is moving so fast.

Think about it. Ten years ago, I was still going to school every day listening to my Discman. This meant that when I left the house, I had to make the important decision of figuring out what album I wanted to listen to that day. Sometimes I would make mixtapes, but the point was that I was stuck listening to those same 15 or so songs for the rest of that day. I became very familiar with certain albums, and I would listen to some of them for weeks at a time.

I remember my first iPod. I was so excited that I surfed the Internet for weeks, downloading as much music as I could possibly fit on the 10-gigabyte device. I no longer had to choose between The Rolling Stones and Red Hot Chili Peppers, because it all fit in my pocket.

Now, I own an iPhone, with all the amenities of my laptop. Its crazy to think that just 10 years ago, I was walking around New York City without the assistance of Google Maps and carrying around CDs if I wanted to listen to music.

This progress isnt bad its unbelievable. We are now able to hold the entirety of the Internet in the palms of our hands. This is what technology aims to do: make life easier for everybody.

Theres so much good to be said about technological progress that its easy to miss certain things that have been left behind in the rush. The most important thing that has been lost to us in the mix of all this technological advancement is patience.

In youth culture today, patience is a lost virtue. This is most likely because weve become used to a certain standard of living: the standard of immediate gratification.

The biggest downside to this growing trend of immediacy is that all of this information and technology is taken for granted. If I dont respond to an email or text message within a day, somebody is liable to be irritated with me. Stepping away from it all becomes harder and harder. We are in constant contact with society, at all times.

I find that people will rarely listen to whole albums anymore, because they have so much music on their iPods that the choices are overwhelming. I have known many people who carry around 10,000 songs on their iPod and havent even listened to half of them.

The modern person is oversaturated with information. With the advent of the Kindle, we are now capable of carrying around hundreds of books, with a good chance of not finishing most of them. Why bother finishing this book when its starting to get boring and I have so many more right here?

This image does not apply to everybody. Many people can adequately compartmentalize the information being constantly thrown at them. But from what Ive seen, this is rare, and its becoming more so. There is less value placed on individual bits of information and more value placed on the mass acquisition of all information. Because of this, the individual gets lost.

The question is this: in a world where our senses are constantly overstimulated by information, how do we hold on to those things that make us human, that connect us to reality? It may sound like Im being overdramatic, but I believe that the more society becomes attached to its technological gifts, the less it will be able to stay grounded in the real world.

Im not saying progress needs to stop. The good definitely outweighs the bad of this there is no question. However, I believe that what it means to be a human being is also changing rapidly, and that maybe this is something that should be examined. I see it in popular music and in social media: artistic values are shifting, and not always in such a good way.

Maybe I just long for the purely instrumental music of the good old days, maybe I miss television before it was saturated with special effects and maybe I miss having no choice but to listen to an entire album on my Discman. Maybe, sometimes, less really is more.

Like I said, technological progress is making life easier for everybody, but I sincerely hope that the appreciation for the smell of a newly bought paperback, or the feeling of buying a CD and listening to the whole thing at home, does not disappear in the chaos.

Here on the hill, the community is so small and we are in such close proximity to one another that it seems foolish to lose sight of human connection. Instead of sending a text, why not walk over to your friends room? Even if hes not there, youll run into somebody else you know on the way.

And I dont care how hipster it is, buy yourself a record player, listen to some vinyl, invite some friends over and have a few drinks. I guarantee youll appreciate it more than fighting over who gets to play the next song on YouTube. Dont lose sight of what makes life great. Im trying really hard not to.

Simon Szybist 14 is a philosophy major. His email address is

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