The Collegian
Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Are you smarter than your smartphone?

I was driving off campus last semester when I stopped at a traffic light adjacent to a panhandler. He held a sign that said, "Anything will help."

In my car, "anything" turns out to be three pennies caked with melted Chapstick and the "NOW! 22" CD.

I contemplated whether giving a homeless person a CD would be a sick joke. But, when I looked back at him I saw something I didn't notice before. He was listening to an iPod.

I decided to keep my "anything" to myself, partially because I didn't appreciate his lack of effort (I've seen more convincing vagrants at hobo-and-high-society-themed frat parties), but mostly because I figured he would laugh in my face.

My three cents and "NOW! That's What I Call Music" CD wouldn't be enough to get him his fix. Had I given him the entire "NOW!" compilation, he would probably squander it all on podcasts and Beats by Dre headphones.

Yet, I assume his addiction to high tech gadgetry pales in comparison to the average college student.

Technology is evolving so rapidly that we'll probably be able to play "Words with Friends" with Jesus from our smartphones soon enough. (Or should I say, "Words with the Lamb of God.")

I used to think it was called a "smartphone" because smart people owned them. I've since realized it has actually made me more stupider.

Last week, after staying up late because I was creating a PowerPoint, watching Netflix, muploading and online shopping simultaneously, I woke up with a severe digital hangover.

My brain was so swollen with information that I Googled "what should I eat for breakfast?" (Answer: Eggs. Well played, Yahoo! answers.)

You might be thinking that this moment of brain failure is due to my own idiocy rather than technology. To which I would have to say, touche.

But I can't help but notice that the majority of our routine activities involve a computer or mechanical device.

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I can't recall the last project I was assigned that didn't require an Internet connection. I can hardly even drive off campus beyond Three Chopt without using a GPS.

My dependence on technology has become so severe that whenever I misplace something, my first instinct is to tell everyone to be quiet so I can hear my shoe vibrate when I call it.

Even our social lives are becoming solely dependent on technology. Which means that if your name is Kristy Burkhardt, then it actually means the demise of your already-pathetic social life.

And on that note, to whatever prick decided to create the text-message feature that allows people to see if the recipient read their message, I hate you.

My low point was when a friend asked via text whether I was OK because I didn't call or write on her Facebook wall for her birthday.

Then she asked me in person why I read her text and still didn't respond.

I thought the answer to that one was pretty self-explanatory -- I lost my phone, my dog ate my laptop and I forgot how to use handwriting utensils.

Which, of course, she had no choice but to believe because the likelihood of a college student not logging on to Facebook for 24 hours is just plain bonkers!

Voicemails? Forget it. I argue that we eliminate them altogether.

The baby-boomer generation has misused and abused the voicemail system to the point that it has become a method of torture.

Want Osama Bin Laden to turn himself in? Give his cell phone number to my dad.

He'll be crying uncle the next time he wants to listen to his message from his Taliban buddy because he'll have to listen to the 27 identical voicemails my dad left that say: "Hey, Osama, it's me. It's 6:16 a.m. Not calling about anything. Just wanted to hear myself talk."

I proved that I reached an even more stupider level when I asked my dad to start e-mailing me instead.

Now he e-mails me, calls me and then leaves a voicemail asking whether I read his e-mail.

No, I didn't read your e-mail, Dad. And I never got your call because there's no Verizon cell phone tower on campus (shhh).

And I'll be sure to listen to your voicemail the next time I feel like waterboarding myself and shoving bamboo shoots underneath my fingernails.

OK, so I'm a little on edge. The truth is, I'm 22 years old and I'm suffering from prolonged exposure to excessive amounts of technology.

One glance at my Over Quota! e-mail inbox is enough to send me into a violent episode.

Of course, none can deny the benefits of the wealth of technology that we are fortunate enough to have access to.

Heck, if it weren't for spell check, Opinion "Editor" Liz Monahan would have never progressed beyond the third grade.

But, as you foam at the mouth while forming connections on LinkedIn and spend sleepless nights establishing your avatar in SecondLife, remember the tale of my "NOW! 22" CD.

Before you know it, these technologies will be obsolete.

However, ignoring your dad's phone calls (so you can pick your nose a little and write worthless columns) is the pastime that never goes out of style.

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