Hop on the Technology Bus
Ten years ago, I met a girl on a bus. She complimented my bracelet and showed me hers, saying she wanted to alter it somehow. We brainstormed various additions, and she told me about her life, relationships, and health issues. She was ecstatic that someone who sat next to her on a bus could have a human conversation.
A Bus of Disconnected Humans
I told the girl I was off to college to become an anthropologist, and she found humor in it. I was the only one on this bus full of people who had taken the time to converse. Looking around the bus, most people were sitting silently with headphones on or looking down at their phones. We were on a bus full of humans who were connected somewhere, but not here.
This encounter sparked my interest in exploring whether the expansion of social media and technology is more beneficial or detrimental to humankind’s communication.
Lessons Lost in the Process
When I went to my first archaeology field school, my mentor told me that many wise minds in the world who have the knowledge to share often cannot do so because of the rapidly increasing dependence of the rest of the world on technology.
People who cannot adopt technology miss out on their opportunity to share their insights and information with future generations.
Oral tradition is vital to many cultures. Sometimes, it is the only form of transmission through eras. When elders are unheard of, the future youth miss essential lessons. The architecture of wisdom loses its foundation.
How it Used to Be
I grew up in this digital revolution and remembered what it was like before everyone owned a smartphone. I remember being out and about, and I would call my mother from a payphone for a ride. I remember when long calls with friends were a treat.
Now my phone feels like a disembodied leash. Everyone can reach me at any time. But I also do not want to abandon technology completely. I know people who chose not to conform, and they have spoken of feeling out of the loop. The goal here is balance. To find a place where the digital is an enhancement to real life. Learning to set boundaries with technology is a big part of this goal.
When I spoke to the girl on the bus, I felt a more human connection, and a part of her stayed with me. Oral tradition creates a bond of experience and memory that the digital misses. We feel it.