New to the blogosphere, and ready for an adventure.
Well, here I am, on a new website with a new account and all the good stuff that comes along with it: another username and password to keep track of, more emails flooding into my inbox, and another bookmarked web address. In this age of new technology and constant, almost instant, updates, I find it difficult to keep up with all of it. First there was email, and what a concept that was. I used to think, “Will people really stop sending letters and notes to friends and family and start typing to each other? Will people sit staring at a screen to read someones email? No way!” Turns out I
missed the mark was way off, as email has evolved into a vital form of communication, both personally and, perhaps even moreso, professionally.
As I sit here, exploring this new realm of internet space- this thing called the blogosphere- in preparation for my first taste of international reporting in Jordan and Turkey in the coming months of May and June, I wonder: is this really the future? Has our society come to individuals sitting, mostly alone, and staring at computer screens? Even in public spaces, where folks formerly spoke to one another and conversed, maybe even with a stranger, the most common sight nowadays is a sea of individuals, each one minding his or her own business; one business man sending out an email; another following the stock market up and down; a schoolgirl with headphones in, contemplating what she’ll listen to next. Is the internet destroying our interpersonal and societal skills? These skills that have taken ages to develop? From the day we are born, we make sounds, and eventually those become mutually understood sounds, sometimes called words. Now, it seems, the only sounds are those of footsteps and the clickity-clack of a keyboard, or the button-pressing someone typing a text message from their cell phone instead of, oh, I don’t know, calling someone from it.
It is for these reasons, among others, I sometimes wished we still lived in a simpler world, where things weren’t so… strange. I think technology is great, don’t get me wrong, and has assisted humans in ways I can’t even comprehend, but perhaps it is also a disservice. As I look ahead to the coming weeks, when I will be traveling around a Middle Eastern, third-world nation, I eagerly await the lack of a cell phone. Sure, I will still have my laptop and camera with me in order to publish my adventures along the way and share all that I am learning with all of you. But, it will mostly be packed away in a hotel room or bag some place- well, the laptop, that is. The camera will be attached to my hand, unless I come across some food, in which case I may pause to photograph it before continuing to indulge in what I can only imagine will be delicious Jordanian delicacies. My point is, I’m really excited to not have a cell phone with me all the time. Here, home in the states, it’s unacceptable to go about my daily life without it. My dad will get angry if he calls and I don’t answer, as will my aunts. Friends will give me grief (endlessly) for failing to answer a text message. My brother will leave
obnoxiously long, (mostly) entertaining voicemails.
It is just the way of our society today. We live in and for each moment and expect our life to be available at every moment. Thinking about this obsession we all seem to have for instant gratification, I long for the days when I would travel on a bus to school and walk to and from the bus stop with a group of friends. Now, I can’t see myself those groups of high schoolers strolling down the street after the bell rings, but not because they are no longer there. It isn’t that at all. It’s the way they walk, now. Back in the late 1990’s and first decade of the 21st century, my friends and I would share tales of our day and talk about the people we met, the things we learned. We would shoot the breeze, make plans for the evening or coming weekend, we would laugh. Now, as I watch these 16 and 17 year olds “hanging out,” I get the feeling that they’re confused and think they are alone in their rooms. No one speaks. Each one is occupied by their own cell phone, iPad, iPod or other new-age, portable device. I bet some of them spend time with their friends not speaking to anyone and tapping away on some device I haven’t even heard of yet! And this from a 21 year old university student living in a bustling urban environment. I don’t hide under a rock or avoid the new technology, because I believe in the pending war between humanity and the machines we’ve created (a la the Matrix.) That is, of course, unless we kill each other before our technological advances reach such heights that they will pose a threat to us.
So, in closing this first blog post, I’ll say that I can’t wait to be in Jordan, where I hope I’ll see fewer people on cell phones, a more cohesive and communal society, and an amazing new world. I truly believe that this trip will be incredible and eye-opening experience, and I look forward to sharing it with 18 soon-to-be friends and colleagues, 3 professors, and a multitude of unknown acquaintances.