By Kayli Smendec
Freshman, Political Science and English Major
“That girl you called a slut in class today… She’s a virgin. The ‘gay boy’ you punched in the hall today… He committed suicide a few minutes ago. The boy you called poor… He has to work every night to support his family. That girl you pushed down the other day… She’s already being abused at home. That girl you called fat… She’s starving herself. The old man you made fun of because of the ugly scars… He fought for our country. The boy you made fun of for crying… His mother is dying. You think you know them. Guess what? You don’t!”
The previous quote is what my eyes skimmed over on my Facebook newsfeed this morning. Wow, that is definitely not what I am used to seeing as a Facebook status. The shocking impact these statements had on me led me to think about our technology-based world today. All over campus, you see people talking on the phone, texting, listening to music with headphones, or perhaps just scrolling through their phones avoiding eye contact with others.
It is strange to think that eye contact with strangers has become an awkward concept. Before technology had evolved, the only way to meet people was by interacting in person. Today, most people avoid engaging in such interaction at all costs. I think we are all guilty of pulling out our phones to stare at or to hold to our ear as we cross Turlington Plaza, trying to avoid receiving another flyer.
Unfortunately, there is a cost for such behavior. Due to the lack of getting to know people, judgments are determined by appearance. Yet, the saying that things are not always what they seem to be remains true. Technology has accomplished wonders, allowing the world to be at our very fingertips. People communicate with each other at a global level, and research has never been easier. While technology provides great channels to unite people, it also creates an impersonal realm on which we have all become dependent.
Communication through social media, for instance, is not always positive. Utilizing the Internet as a forum for cyberbullying is a serious issue. Furthermore, the efficiency of e-mails cannot replace the thoughtfulness of handwritten letters. Texting “LOL” cannot replace the sound of human laughter. Getting to know someone cannot be adequately accomplished through technology alone. I challenge you to avoid technology and utilize it simultaneously for good purposes.
First, I advise you to avoid technology when you are in public. Make friends by starting a conversation with someone on the bus or sitting next to you in class. Compliment a stranger. Accept a flyer from someone in Turlington. Ultimately, you are capable of making someone’s day. Next, I advise you to utilize technology to get to know people and to be an uplifting friend. To clarify my encouragement to get to know people, I do not advise making new friends on Facebook by adding strangers! Please do not do that! Rather, check up on your friends and see how they are doing. Post something nice for someone if they are going through a difficult time or even randomly, because you never know what someone is really going through in his or her life. I also suggest that you only post on the Internet what you are genuinely content with the entire world seeing. In other words, if you do not have something nice to say, do not say it at all.
In summary, you can never fully understand a person’s life. Judgment is not an attempt to know someone; it is an attempt to bring someone that you do not know down. Getting to know someone requires non-judgment. I challenge you to keep this article in mind every time you think you know someone. It is my hope that you accept this challenge.