Founded in 1974, the Women’s Center was established to:
Dismantle, from a feminist perspective, all forms of oppression, including but not limited to those based on ability, age, class, ethnicity, gender, race, and sexual orientation.
Advocate for an equitable environment free from violence and harassment based on gender, race, and sexual orientation.
Create an anti-racist, non-sexist, queer-affirmative space where all people can feel valued and safe.
Facilitate and strengthen connections among people across lines of difference through programming and educational campaigns.
Integrate an appreciation of Women's Gender and Multicultural Studies across the disciplines.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Are Cellphones killing our social skills?

 Alright, let's look at topic that relates to 99% of us: using our cellphones. We do it nearly non-stop, all day, every day. These little electronic wonder machines have basically become an extension of ourselves, an integral part of our lives. I mean when we lose them; we basically start reacting like Gollum from "Lord of The Rings" (AKA having a panic attack and attacking people around us, especially those filthy Hobbits!). So looking as this objectively, I think it's safe to say we developed a bit of an obsession with our cell phones. But the real question is, are our cell phones hurting out social skills? 

(I assume you've already stopped reading this blog post, and gone back to checking your texts by now...)

I know I know, it must be unthinkable to think that our precious cellphones are actually hurting our ability to connect with other people. You might say something like:

"James, you simpleton, with my cellphone I can stay connected with all my friends, no matter how far away they are! That's total social connectivity! I'm so rad!"

(This is totally your face right now, I'm 100% sure of it.)

While I admit that cellphones do let us stay connected with people all over, I'm going to argue that they're actually killing our face-to-face social skills. All this digital interaction, especially texting, is slowly but surely removing our ability to communicate in real life. We're becoming this generation that is far more comfortable with communication taking place from behind a screen, and not in person. Texting is removed and impersonal, which makes it far easier to deliver communication that we might not feel comfortable saying in person. 

How many times have you met a person that sounds completely different over text than they do in person? Usually, they're much quieter, maybe even completely different in person than they are over the phone. This comes from the fact that texting imbues us with a false sense of confidence that we don't have in person. The fact that we don't have to actually see or react to the human being we're communicating with is removing our actual feelings from conversations. It's making us cold and removed, while simultaneously breaking down our ability to converse in person.

"You mean I can't say 'LOL S0RRY L0SER' in real life?!"

A perfect example of this is the "break-up" text; a brand new type of terrible interaction that has appeared with our new generation. Look, breaking up with some one on a phone call is already bad enough, but doing it over TEXT?! It confounds me that people can actually do that to a person they supposedly "cared about". But because it's so much easier to send a damaging message from behind a screen, it has now become relatively common place. People would rather deal with it through digital key-strokes than have to actually face the distress they're about to put their ex-partner through. 

We're forgetting how to deliver important news in person, since we feel safer doing it from behind a screen. It's no surprise that cyber-bullying is on the rise since it's SO much easier to put somebody down when you don't have to actually look them in the face. Think about how many times somebody has said something to you that you KNOW they would never actually say in person. This is NOT a good trait for a whole generation to develop.

(I know, I know, talking to real people is difficult and scary, but still...)

Now look, I admit that I am JUST as guilty of this as anybody else. I've done it all: Avoided people at school so I could text them later, said stuff I'd never say in person, all that jazz. I'm not proud of it, but hey, I'm sure none of us really are.

 I just think that collectively we should take steps towards becoming more personal with the people in our lives again. Drop the cellphones for a bit, take a minute to appreciate the people and things around us, and get back to the real world. No more texting through dinner dates (another huge pet peeve), no more just constantly staring at our screens when walking around campus, none of that. I have no hate for cellphones, I think they're wonderful things; but they shouldn't be consuming so much of our lives. 

So let's take a step back from all our cyber handhelds, and put a little more human personality into our interactions, ok?


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