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Four Years at the Mount

Freshman year

This month we asked our students to watch this 1991 United Airline
and asked them to weight in on its relevancy today. 
As always, their response surprised us.

Connecting and creating

Kaitlyn Marks
Class of 2021

(2/2018) My childhood is a chapter of my life that is tinted golden, the memories swirling with feelings of joy and nostalgia. As a little girl, my sister and I spent our days playing together. Technology quickly became a large part of our lives, but many of our games didn’t involve any form of technology. We spent lots of time outside, imagining lives and creating worlds, playing with dolls, and starting small, pretend businesses in our play room. However, we were also raised to be adaptable. I can still remember when I got my very first laptop, something all mine, and I was able to learn and play and connect with family. Even though I am older now, and technology is a much bigger part of my life, I often think back to the intertwining roots that I feel I experienced between generations: somewhere between now, when technology is in the hands of toddlers and small children constantly, and the time where this was much less common.

While I can clearly visualize the dangers, the consequences and the drawbacks of such accessible and abundant technology, our society has improved and our daily lives have many more capabilities due to its use. One critique I have experienced, especially with the commercial we writers were tasked with viewing this month, is that technology separates us from one another. The critics explain that it creates a divide between businesses and consumers, between celebrities and ordinary people, between everyday friends and family members. The logic behind these devastating conclusions is that technology allows us to avoid face-to-face interactions, phone calls, and personal, deep connections. While I understand the possibility for using technology in a way that creates a sort of divide, I moreover anticipate and admire its ability to connect us. I can, in an instant, see snapshots of my younger cousins’ lives. At college, I can be connected constantly to my family. Instead of just a phone call, I can video-call my parents and ease the homesickness I may be facing. When I have good news, my family and friends can all hear at once. Even more powerful, I use technology to run my own personal blog. I can connect with readers from across America, and across the world. There is a magic, a brilliance, within the virtual world that allows us to bridge gaps of space and time, to reach out and experience connections in so many places.

I have an infinite amount of respect for the generations before me who used physical, tangible maps to navigate on a road trip. My navigational skills are flawed, at best. Much as I try, I find myself always relying on a GPS app on my phone. Family and friends who know me best laugh at me over the childlike wonder with which I view the world around me. How wonderful is it that we can find our way to any destination we like, with a tiny piece of technology at our fingertips? How magical is it that I can write a reflective blog article, publish it on a website I designed myself, and suddenly touch the hearts of people far away from me?

Even if there are negative uses of technology, like credit card company answering machines and automated receivers instead of human customer service departments, there is certainly a magical element to the infinite possibilities and ease that technology offers. I was able to teach my beautiful, kind grandmother, who I miss dearly when I am away at school, to use Facebook and other social media sites, and she loves getting to experience and read snippets of my daily life, especially when things are hectic and I may not have an abundance of time to talk on the phone. However, even the technology within making a phone call has changed and developed for the better. I can talk safely to my family when I am driving, updating them on my progress, with Bluetooth calling, meaning I am hands-free and able to focus on the road. If I have a long day of exams, I can text my younger sister in an instant and wish her luck at a track meet. There are such wonderful capabilities made possible thanks to technology.

Technology also gives us the chance to choose. This may sound strange; we have choices in everything we do. However, technology allows us to have a wealth of knowledge just waiting for us to devour, right at our fingertips. My papers, projects, and ability to learn at school are more diverse and rich, thanks to the ease of access to scholarly journal articles and other information, from anywhere—not just in the campus library. If I don’t have a chance to visit a family member, and they want to see a copy of this newspaper, I can direct them to a webpage, a collective of my articles. I am always so amazed by the ability I have to share with others, and to view the work and lives of others online.

Dangers accompany progress, and there are of course a number of consequences to technology. There are predators able to access the accounts of young teenagers. There are fake profiles on social media, a decline of intimate human connection due to the ‘age of texting’, and of course, damage to linguistic styles due to the incorporation of texting and other shorthand methods of communication. However, I believe that technology is a wonderfully transformative tool. If you want to be informed about political issues, you can find truthful, unbiased information using technology. Libraries have access programs that teach a variety of people to use technology. In order to best develop the technology we are lucky enough to use, we need to be responsible with both how we use it, and with ensuring its accessibility to everyone in the country. In rural areas, minority living areas, and areas of poverty, there is a major global issue called the digital divide, causing rifts and achievement gaps for people who do not have consistent access to technology. With improved programs to increase digital literacy and provide access and knowledge of technology’s uses, I believe it is a magical and important tool that revolutionizes society for the better.

Read other articles by Kaitlyn Marks