IMs and Text Rob Myspace Generation of Art of Conversation

“We can’t deal with the face to face / so we let technology replace the space that people are supposed to fill” –My Space, Shannon Matesky

During those long nights, sometime between that nine page paper that needs editing by tomorrow and a Family Guy commercial, you check your Facebook for the tenth time in two minutes; or, you’re tired of listening to your professor blather on so you plug in those iPod headphones and tune out.

These and similar technologies are really only a few years old and already they’ve been incorporated into our lives like rituals. They’re convenient and entertaining, so what’s the problem?

Well, convenience is killing being personable–the art of social interaction.

Last week, a pair of my friends started explaining to me why they text each other so much (since I think that text messaging is a waste of time). Once again, convenience appeared as a factor as did the speed of the transaction.

She types in the message, and he receives it in seconds. All valid arguments, but they live across the hall from each other. Is it really that exacting on the human body to get up, open a door, cross a three and a half foot hall, knock on a door, and talk?

Nowadays, there really is no reason to see another human being in a day’s time.

You can shop online, call mom to get news on the family, text your pal informing them of your weekend, post a Myspace bulletin to ask all your friends a question, turn on the TV for the news, and (if you’re feeling really old school, really adventurous) you can crack open a book and burn an entire evening.

Before technology streamlined life to the domain of thumbs and a clicking mouse, social etiquette was actually a requirement to function in life.

People went to finishing schools; men were trained to behave gentlemanly and ladies learned how to behave genteelly because, frankly, human interaction was required in order for anything to get done.

The human element has been near removed from life. The Internet was hailed as the tool that made the world flat again. People continents away could communicate with ease, precisely because there was no need for physical contact.

At least with the telephone we had a voice, but this is the generation of the vacuum: silent talk, profile pictures, and comment boxes.

These innovations are so pervasive in life that they’re even disturbing the English language itself.

In a article from Yahoo! News I read during spring, I learned of how middle and high school teachers are coping with students writing essays with instant messaging lingo.

Papers littered with “b4” and other slang appear to the point where teachers must teach their students not to do it.

I may sound like an ornery old person, but I am not trying to cast ill-repute over technology (I use it too). Rather, I insist on creating a boundary between reason and foolish excess.

If your friend is at the beach and you’re in the dorm go ahead and text her; if you’re standing five feet from each other, just say “hello.”

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