THE BLOG
11/04/2014 11:36 am ET Updated Jan 04, 2015

140 Characters, and Into The Future

When I have the time I prefer to stop and converse with professors during my daily frizzle frazzle through CSUMB. It is especially fascinating to think that most of them are the first wave of educators to experience this sudden era of technology, in both life and their workplace. One professor in particular was recently expressing his confusion on how people have become so attached to smart phone usage.

By this point in the technological revolution we have all heard this complaint at least 47 times. However, my teacher added a little twist to his critique that I had not particularly thought about. He seemed to be especially baffled by the size of these screens that we spend on average 3.9 years of our lifetimes looking at.

What a thought! Suddenly, a huge part of daily interaction all takes place on a screen no larger than a checkbook. Society is obviously changing due to the normality of communication through text and screens. But, what happens when the screen shrinks and it takes less time to fill it with text? From what I can tell, it makes short conversation the new normality.

Whilst among my peers I have observed a general unwelcoming, or perhaps an annoyance, with longer than average text messages. People may complain "Ugh! My friend just wrote me a novel, and I'm not his damn therapist" and might scoff at this hideous over-expression. Perhaps even you, my dear reader, will internally scowl at the sight of a lengthy text message as it settles into your inbox. I know I certainly have.

You don't have time for this, right? After all, to write and reply to a long thought-out sentiment does go against everything texting represents; easy, fast, convenient, fun, instant gratification, social detachment, virtual reality, etc... But when these screens are so small, messages that appear lengthy are only a small paragraph when displayed on a broad computer screen, or I dare say.... an actual piece of paper.

Why is society so critical of my smartphone? Is it really true? Are we losing our humanity to technology like all of the sci-fi movies said we would? But technology is cool and makes my life easier!

Indeed! No one can deny this fact. So many things can be expedited, simplified, and even calculated automatically now. So much can be accomplished in little time, on a tiny, handheld platform. And, there are quite a few quirky aspects of "being connected" all the time that people may not ever even think about.

For example, in a (not creepy) way, social media and texting automatically create a recorded scrapbook/diary/memoir of your life. This may seem petty at first thought, but I think its an underrated aspect of taking part in electronic communities. At any point on any day, people can just look through their profile history and see exactly what they've been saying and doing for the past however many years. This is a contemplative gold mine if any given individual is seeking self-reflection. As the world progresses and information is so readily available to the general public, it is my hope that pondering one's self and the world will gradually become a nifty side-effect. I always encourage self-reflection.

The point is, times are rapidly morphing into a new age. Sure, it may seem like humans are slowly sacrificing their humanity to the iPhone at first. But, the change is inevitable! We can't expect ourselves to flow into "the new" so smoothly and immediately. After all, today is the day when anybody with a smartphone can have a futuristic video conference call. Previously, this was only a fantasy that one could find dancing through the dreams of prehistoric sci-fi nerds.

This clunky process of adaptation is to be expected, is it not? We are merely in the transitional phase from the old to the new. The timeless idea of "Going back the good old days" is going to carry a whole new weight, as the gap between then and now grows so large it becomes difficult to comprehend what it was like on the other side. Things are going to be quite strange from now on.