Technology: Decline or Development of Cultural Identity

       He sits patiently on a bench, meticulously scanning the area in search of his target, which includes anyone who seems to be engrossed in their technological devices. When he finds his target, he stops them from moving on and gives a long but powerful lecture on how technology causes them to forget who they are. This is LP, a homeless man who enjoys interacting with people face-to-face by sparking a vibrant conversation with them.

        LP, who did not give us his real name, is originally from Virginia and moved to Denver, but he told us that he walked away from everything because he “believed that the system we’re living in does not work anymore.”

        “… We have a collection of consciousness that we have lost. We need to go back to a more basic way of life,” LP said. He had a grave expression on his face and asserted that people should be “in contact with themselves and things around them… people, not machines.” Pointing at Macy’s, he said,
“True happiness does not come from shopping.”

        Ever since smartphones and laptops were introduced, people have become unaware of what’s around them, since they became too engrossed with the remarkable features of technology and tasks it can do. Such tasks include: checking email, texting friends and family, and doing online shopping. At one time, these tasks were mostly done with more time and effort, such as writing and exchanging letters with one another.

        At least several times in a week, people spend a significant amount of time using  technology. According to a study from Mashable, the average amount of time that adults in America spend on technology is 1to 5 hours. However, in a recent interview with three visitors at Stanford University, it was revealed that people spend more than 3 hours a day.
        “I’m on my computer and iPhone pretty much all day, I’d say maybe around 12 hours. Technology is a way for me to communicate with others. It’s a way to entertain myself and get away from stress,” commented Melissa Rios, who came to Stanford University for work. “I do everything on my technology devices. Spreadsheets, emails, you name it.”

        As LP mentioned earlier, because people are too engrossed with technology, they are slowly forgetting their identity. However, this does not apply to some people.

        “When I see people on their technology, it’s normal; I see it everywhere in America. It may affect others but it doesn’t affect me. I’m okay with leaving my phone for two weeks and I would be fine with that,” commented Melissa.

        However, most people who were interviewed agreed that technology does bring negative impact to one’s social well-being.

        “It [technology] helps my life become more convenient because you can do shopping online, check with others, and make phone calls. But many times, if you use computer and phone so much, you can’t talk well with others and have an intimate relationship with them,” noted Yongjae Lu, a Chinese student who currently studies at California State University. Yongjae said that technology helps him to interact effectively with his Chinese friends.

        Another Stanford visitor, Nicole Arevalo, doubts whether technology is really affecting our cultural identity or not. “I don’t know, really. But for now, I guess the answer is yes and no because I think it takes away face-to-face interaction and who you truly are but you can personalize your technology with buttons built in the device.”


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