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The humanity of technology

We have a reputation. We’re the technology generation and depending on who you talk to, it may not be a good thing. Even here at Concordia, walking through campus can be lonely when your fellow travelers all have their noses buried in their smartphones. Likewise, breaks in mealtime conversation are, as often as not, punctuated by texts and Facebook posts. Even surrounded by our friends we distance ourselves through electronic media.

Arguments can be made that our focus on communication mediated through avenues such as texting and social media have damaged our ability to have simple conversations with one another. I can understand that point of view and even sympathize to some extent (it’s not like I’ve never been irked when someone pulled out a phone in the middle of a conversation) but I can’t help but feel that what we have gained outweighs the irritation of the inevitable techno faux-pas.

Social media services like Facebook and Twitter have opened up our lines of communication to the entire world, allowing the spread of information at speeds that would make Paul Revere’s head spin clean off. With that exchange of information has come not only the ability to connect with people from a great distance, but the ability to connect with them in a deep, meaningful way.

Last spring when a friend from home with muscular dystrophy fell from his wheelchair, his family started a blog through, a blog hosting site that provides service specifically for individuals and families experiencing a medical hardship. His condition was critical and after several surgeries and a stay in intensive care, he passed in his sleep surrounded by his family.

It pained me that I was unable to visit my friend when I had the chance, but through the blog updated regularly by his family, I was able to follow his struggle and reach out to his family with support and what I hope were comforting words. With the aid of today’s technology I was able to express my grief in a way that I wouldn’t have been able to even 10 years ago.

Technology has expanded our capacity to connect with one another and in some ways redefined it. Ultimately it’s true worth will come down to the way we use it.

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