Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Technology is Not Social, People Are

I came across this statement online a few weeks ago and have been thinking about it ever since. It's so true and recently I've been reading a lot about how most people believe the opposite. True, technology can make you feel more social, but just because you have 800+ friends on Facebook, you might not really be all that social.

Don't get me wrong, I love technology. I work on a Web site so I can't lie and say that technology is a bad thing. Social networking has allowed me to keep in touch with friends from home, this blog has given me an outlet for my thoughts, and technology has allowed us to be much more efficient. But sometimes I wonder if we are actually losing the art of being social. Lately I feel that it's harder and harder for people to live in the "offline" world.

Just today, Mashable.com posted an article summarizing the results of a survey they gave to professionals which found that smartphones and intimate relationships tied at 40% for the number one thing respondents can’t live without.

Yesterday, I read an article in the Des Moines Register where the head of my undergrad university's journalism school said, "Cell phones convey one message and one only, whether calling, texting or watching a movie, and it's that something somewhere else is more important than the person we are with."

Everyday I watch my fellow commuters immersed in their Blackberries all the way to work. I come home and watch my roommates chat online and send and receive emails all night. Walk into a bar and everyone sitting there will have a phone out in front of them. Customers in stores often talk on their phones through their entire interaction with the sales clerk.

Life is busy and I admit that I am guilty of doing the same things from time to time but I hope that I never lose that desire to interact with the real world. It makes me sad that all of this technology now means that it can be rare to even have a conversation where both parties are fully present and sometimes I just long for old school face-to-face interaction.

Monday, April 12, 2010

New York is Like Living on Another Planet Sometimes

I went to DC for the first time this past weekend. A friend and I decided to head down to catch part of the National Cherry Blossom Festival and also meet up with some friends who were there for the weekend too.

Our route to DC took us through New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland. As I watched the scenery change along 95, it hit me that I hadn't left the city since November. Blocks and blocks of high rises, bodegas and 24 hour fast food joints gave way to houses with lush lawns, sprawling Home Depots and gas stations. My friend looked over at me and said, "I forget this is what America is."

I thought about it for a minute and realized she was right. This is what the majority of America is. It's what I know. I grew up with chain restaurants, shopping malls and parking lots an acre large. But for some reason it looked really weird to me as I side gazed.

It was like I had forgotten this because living in NYC is like living on another planet sometimes. There's so much going on here that it's easy to get absorbed in the immediacy of the city. Everything in this city takes place on another level. It truly is a place where you can have anything you want whenever and wherever you want it.

I had no idea I had gotten so accustomed to it this quickly and I sometimes forget that not everyone else gets the opportunity to experience that. And sometimes I also forget that New York makes me forget how much I can miss the rest.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The unseasonably warm day was fading into twilight. All she wanted was to spend some time feeling. She wanted to feel the grass tickle her feet. She wanted to feel the warm breeze caress her bare arms. She wanted to feel like she had accomplished something on this day. She wanted to feel that someone wanted to listen.

As the lights in the park came on, she gathered up her things and switched on the music. Loud enough to feel it.

She slowly walked towards the bus taking in every detail of her surroundings. She wanted to feel excited about living in the city. She wanted to feel excited that half her work week was over.

But as darkness took her in all she felt was the fact that she felt excited about nothing.

She couldn't remember happiness and that made her sad.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

I Hope It Will Be Worth What I Give Up

A friend of mine is moving this weekend. She is leaving Iowa for a bigger city and a new adventure. I've talked to her a lot about this decision over the past year or two because I clearly remember the first steps in my journey.

The sunny, September Saturday morning that I loaded all my stuff into the back of my dad's pickup truck is so clear it seems like yesterday. The Friday before was my last day of work which gave me almost no time to fully realize the impact of the decision to attend Emerson. Once everything was loaded, I hugged my mom and as we pulled out of the driveway, I had no idea I wouldn't be returning to Iowa in a little over a year.

It was dark and raining as we pulled off the Mass Turnpike and into Brighton two days later. I was about to see my new home for the next year. I started to feel a bit nervous as we turned onto Brock Street. I was moving in with two girls I had never met in a city I had never seen to go to a school I had never visited.

We pulled up to a dark house. It was Labor Day weekend and my new roommates were both off enjoying the last weekend of summer. I found the key Sarah had left for me and let myself in. The weather was humid and made unpacking my things miserable. Once we got everything inside and the bed set up, my dad left to go to his hotel for the night.

Exhausted, I climbed into bed. I laid there, listening to the rain, wondering what I had gotten myself into.

I would be starting school in just two days. It was an intensive one year program and I was worried about the program, making new friends, and learning my way around my new city.

The loneliness I felt in the first few weeks was great. This was magnified every time I talked to friends back home and they commented on how exciting they thought my life must be now that I was in Boston. This made me feel more frustrated that I wasn't feeling happier with my decision.

So I can completely relate to what this friend is going through at the moment. I haven't lied to her and said it's going to be easy. There will be moments of loneliness, of second guessing, of wanting to give up. But, I am confident she can do this, and, looking back on all of it from four years down the road, I can absolutely guarantee it will be worth it.

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor, catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover."
~ Mark Twain