An Extension of Ourselves

Throughout my life, people have always pondered the question of whether iPhones and the internet bring more benefits or losses to our society as a whole. I remember when I was 14 years old, I was standing on the stage at the Miss Hockessin pageant, and I was asked this exact question. It has always been difficult for me to distinguish whether iPhones and social media truly help us grow or hinder our abilities. And to this day, I still have trouble coming up with an answer.

On one hand, these new technologies have given us the opportunity to communicate much more easily. We can send a quick text or tweet to anyone around the world within only a few seconds. We can share our lives and accomplishments with family and friends we no longer get to see. We can find answers to any questions we may have, right in the palm of our hands. So many benefits. But, what are the losses? As Carr points out, we have lost our sense of concentration. Whereas before, we could sit down and immerse ourself in a book for hours, now we can barely sit through a lecture without looking for the next best thing to grab our attention. Although our personal connection has expanded digitally, we no longer can connect with people face-to-face. When I walk into my classes, no one is talking to each other. They all have their faces shielded down from the real world, as they live through their virtual reality. Some people even use these technologies as a weapon. Behind a screen, individuals are able to anonymously insult and hurt others through multiple social networking sites. Lastly, there have been negative effects on our physical health. In an article from The New York Times, it was said that the constant slouching from our iPhone use can actually be correlated to our loss of memory and a decline in our moods.

So whose to blame? Certainly, Steve Jobs and the other creators of the World Wide Web never intended for their creations to bring about such impacts. I think the best answer to this question comes from Carr. “The products of modern science are not in themselves good or bad; it is the way they are used that determines their value” (3). The iPhone and internet were never meant to be bad or result in a negative impact on people. It’s because of how we use them that makes them bad. We could use our phones and still be able to communicate with people in person, but we choose not too. We have changed what was once just a useful tool, to an actual extension of our body and mind.  We no longer separate ourselves from the technology. We can try to change these negative impacts though. Slowly, but surely, we are trying to understand the happy medium between technology use and personal interaction. I’m curious to read more from Carr and see if he has his own theories on how to stop digital technologies from completely taking over our lives.

Author: Amanda DeFilippis

I am a Sophomore currently studying Communications at the University of Delaware.

6 thoughts on “An Extension of Ourselves”

  1. This is a topic of concern for many people. My grandparents are almost against all modern technology (cell phones and the Internet mainly) because they see it as anti social. Whenever we are at their house and they as us a question, they hate when my family pulls out their cell phone and simple Googles the answer. They like to look things up in books or call their friends to find the answer.
    I think technology is a great enhancement to the human race as it brings tons of new knowledge and connection to our fingertips, but it is also a great hindrance as it can lead us to not seek out human interaction as much as we used to.

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  2. I really like the quote you picked because I think it sums up most of what Carr tries to say in the pages that follow. The creators of technology didn’t have 100% control over how the consumers would use it. The internet and cell phones for example, are all vehicles we use to stay in contact with others. We could do so by other methods but because we know these are the fastest, it is what we want and expect from those around us.

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  3. I think we all can agree that although the phone and other technologies do bring benefits to our chaotic lives, the over consumption of our toys has blocked us from communicating with each other. Nicole, It’s funny that you talk about how your grandparents are so against technology, because my grandparents seem to be the opposite. For Christmas this my 70 year old grandma actually received an apple watch AND the new Amazon Echo. Although my relatives have no idea how to use these objects, they nonetheless still buy them.

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  4. Hey Amanda! Great points on all counts. That’s crazy that you were asked that question when you were 14, I know I wouldn’t have been able to give a very eloquent response, haha! And maybe our wanting to grab the next thing – not being able to sit through a lecture – is a problem that needs a solution of a more interactive lecture? Or learning/teaching needs to changed in order to fit its audience?

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  5. Amanda, what did you say when you were 14?! I’ve been struck in recent years by how different it feels to walk into a classroom. You’re right—everybody is on their phones. It’s like being in a futuristic library. In any case, what I take away from your response here is the idea that we might still be learning how to use these devices. Maybe there’s more room for hope than Carr seems to suggest! ~Joe

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  6. I liked that you connected it to your life (the fact that you were asked this at 14 says that people knew that the whole interwebs thing was becoming a major part of our lives, particularly targeted towards youths). I also liked that you took it back to the fact that technology in itself doesn’t do anything, it is how we use it that impacts our lives.

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