The final assignment for my Media, Culture, and Technology class was to create a digital story that chronicled my interaction with a technology of my choice. A small description of my project can be found here. By documenting how I reacted to the various books I read this semester, I came to understand how technology as a whole affects my life and discovered what makes me so addicted to technology.
I’ve been a literature lover my entire life. I read whatever I can get my hands on and I have always had a tendency to become too emotionally attached to the books I read. I laugh and cry with the characters and when I turn the last page of the book, I often look up in shock as I realize that everyone else in this world were going about their normal lives. It wasn’t until taking this class, and doing this project, that I realized how much I actually depended on these books.
Most people my age are becoming more and more dependent (some would say addicted) to more modern technologies like the internet, social media, and video games (Sura, 2012; Herzfeld, 2011; Mandell, 2007; Parker-Pope, 2010; Fader, 2013). Since I am not “addicted” to any of these things (my parents may disagree) I chose to analyze my relationship through a medium that has had a dramatic impact on my life. I started this semester with 30 required readings for my various classes.
Starting with book number 12, Dave Egger’s The Circle, I kept tabs on how I engaged with the literature. I read a wide variety of books–non-fiction, classic literature, short stories–but my reaction to all of them before this project was the same. I became so engrossed in the worlds of the books that, at times, I was actually living vicariously through the fictional characters.
Once I started to really pay attention to how I reacted to these books, however, I read less and less until eventually, I wasn’t reading at all. Before this semester, there were only two books I didn’t finish throughout my entire student career. Now, there are four books I never even started and two more books I didn’t finish. I was so afraid of immersing myself too deep in these narratives that I chose to not engage them at all. For the first time in my life, I was afraid to read. This made me nervous, negative, and overall less productive in all other areas of my life because I was forced to face the reality of the real world without any means of escape or comfort.
As Sura suggests in her Huffington Post article “Technology Addiction” (2012), it is the very notion of escaping, of separating ourselves from everyone else that causes most people to become “addicted” to technology. Although I was moody and unhappy in those few days I went without books, I did notice that I was spending much more time with people in the real world. I was enhancing real relationships rather than wishing I was friends with characters in a book. As some critics suggest, our growing dependence on technology is making our real world relationships suffer (Rheingold, 2012; Sura, 2012) and until I did this project I didn’t realize how much I was missing out on in the real world while I created worlds of my own through my books.
It was this epiphany that gave me the answer to the “what makes technology so addictive?” question. When I read a book, I can create hundreds of different worlds without ever leaving the comfort of my dorm room. Movie watchers do the same thing as they sit in the theater eating popcorn. Gamers do it when they sit on the couch and play their favorite game for hours on end. This is what makes technology so amazing–the idea that we can be whoever and wherever we want whenever we want. All of these technologies allow users to become completely immersed in worlds they help create–making technology not only addictive, but the modern drug of choice.
Sura (2010). “Addicted to Technology.” The Huffington Post. Web.
Herzfeld, Ronit (2011). “Unplug and Recharge: Are You Living in a Techno-Daze?” The Huffington Post. Web.
Mandell, Jonathan (2007). “Are Gadgets, and the Internet, Actually Addictive?” CNN.com. Web.
Parker-Pope, Tara (2010). “An Ugly Toll of Technology: Impatience and Forgetfulness.” The New York Times. Web.
Fader, Jonathan (2013). “Are You Addicted to Your Phone? Change Technology Addiction.” Psychology Today. Web.
Rheingold, Howard (2012). Net Smart: How to Thrive Online. Print.