The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

FRANSEN: Technology is getting in the way of our real relationships

Elena Fransen_newYou’re waiting outside a class or for an elevator by yourself when, suddenly, another person comes up. You haven’t spoken to them before and don’t really know what to say to them. So what do you do?

If you said you would strike up a conversation with them, you’re an anomaly and probably don’t have a smartphone. The impulse reaction for most is to pull out whatever electronic device we have to check Facebook, pretend to text or flip through the same emails for the millionth time.

It’s great that we can do these things any place we go that has WiFi, but it seems as though we resort to them too often. We now use our electronics when it’s unnecessary to avoid the threat of uncomfortable human contact.

As we get more caught up in technology, it becomes more of a barrier to our interactions with other people.

Spike Jonze’s new film, “Her,” starring Joaquin Phoenix and the seductive voice of Scarlett Johansson, depicts an antisocial writer who engages in a romantic relationship with his new operating system in the not-so-distant future.

The human characters isolate themselves from each other, attached instead to their artificial intelligence and other newfangled forms of technology. Everyday interpersonal communication becomes a burden with technology doing most of the work. 

Looking around campus and noticing how attached we’ve become to the security offered by technology, I think this may not be so far off from reality.

I was freaked out by this hypothetical future, and I am taking some time away from Siri, who, before seeing the film, I had changed to have a male voice. I wonder if we are really becoming over-attached to technology while falling short in our attachments to other people.

Smartphones, tablets and laptops may make life easier, but there are noticeable drawbacks to our technologically proficient generation. Texting and emailing are becoming the preferred means of contact, while  face-to-face interaction (with eye contact), can be a challenge.

I too am guilty of relying on technology, but I still maintain some trust issues. I try not to get too attached to my computer and IPhone as I know someday they both may spontaneously crash. This wouldn’t be a precursor to the apocalypse, but for some people, it’s pretty close.

It might be good for us to distance ourselves from technology. Maybe then we can work on communicating with others and focus on real relationships. We should remember how technology can help us but is not a substitute for our family and friends. While Skype, email and texts help us stay connected, they are no replacement for human contact.

Hopefully we won’t come to having relationships with artificial intelligence and can use the hypothetical foresight of “Her” as a wake-up call to curb our over-dependence on technology. So try talking to that person by the elevator rather than reaching for your phone. It beats falling in love with a computer system.

Though I don’t think that will be a problem with my Siri; I could never make it work with someone who has never seen “The Princess Bride.” Yes, I asked.

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