By Joshua Elmore:
I have spoken in my last three columns about the importance of technology in facilitating meaningful connections between cultures.
I’d like to clarify that the routes suggested are for global interaction and, in many cases, should exclude the local. By local I mean within a half hour from where you live.
At the local scale, social media platforms are useful for coordinating events and making connections with those outside of your friend group.
Social networking websites help professionals broaden their business opportunities.
However, business and personal relationships on average develop more substantially when established in person.
The problem is social media’s effectiveness in removing the individual from physical interaction.
Among other factors is its ability to eliminate subtleties in personality most often revealed through non-verbal communication, i.e., body language, and reactionary responses that only come in real-time.
This is important to note because although cultural understanding can come from conversations held online, cultural transmission is much more nuanced through the ways we communicate.
If you were taking social cues from someone focused on their phone during a physical world interaction you may consider it appropriate to also become lost in the novelty.
By novelty I am referring to the many ways in which publicly accessible technology is entertainment endowed with misguided importance, and in some cases, even mistaken for learning tools
Los Angeles Unified School District has distributed iPads to its students, effectively undermining teacher-student interaction and distancing the lesson from the classroom.
This can have a damaging effect on what should be considered an opportunity to gain insight from others.
It is similar to the differences between reading a book in a nice quiet library and attempting to achieve the same level of concentration while reading next to a freeway. You are understandably distracted.
When you cognitively enter your phone while out with friends, not only do you isolate yourself, but you miss out on an opportunity for growth.
Many of the great ideas we learn here at City College have come from people who spent their lives devoted to their fields. But devotion also comes with ability to spot trends and variations in the environment.
The only way to grow applicable conclusions about the world is to observe your surroundings and draw conclusions from them.
If you are disconnected from the world, as seemingly more people frequently are, then where will those insights of what can be drawn from outside digital interaction come from?
Social media generally distracts and for the large majority of people is not used as a means to measure the world.
It should mostly be used for connecting ideologies and closing physical distances.