Our obsession with technology is an infection that can’t be contained

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With nothing to do during quarantine, we have resorted to spending infinitely more time on our phones as a distraction from the outside world.  Photo by bongkarn thanyakij from Pexels

With nothing to do during quarantine, we have resorted to spending infinitely more time on our phones as a distraction from the outside world. Photo by bongkarn thanyakij from Pexels

Well would you look at that, we meet again for the first time in what feels like months! Wait, you mean to tell me it’s only been a week since my last column’s publication? Geez, I’ve lost my grasp of time! No, but in all seriousness, this whole quarantine (or “coronantine,” as I’ve so affectionately dubbed it) makes me feel like I’m losing years from my life, and I know I’m not alone in that sentiment. Sure, on paper the idea of gaining some free time while we’re all cooped up inside our homes sounds great, but in practice it’s been rather excruciating so far. Now you surely ask, why? What’s so bad about working from home, as we stop following strict schedules, loosen up our basic standards of professionalism and stick ourselves behind screens all day? Not much, actually —  unless you take things too far and allow your technological devices to overtake your life.

Our first culprit of technological overload is admittedly unavoidable at this time, and that’s online class instruction and virtual meetings. Indeed the show must go on; after all, we can’t simply cancel our education, job commitments and other such responsibilities due to the pandemic (as appealing as that proposition may be). But the effectiveness of these means of operation has been a mixed bag. Asynchronous online classes provide students with flexibility in how and when to complete coursework, which can be a blessing and a curse. Other classes that still meet and submit assignments at set times provide more structure (thereby mitigating the probability of lapsing), but perhaps too much of it, to the point where students feel overwhelmed, experience technical difficulties or otherwise lack the means to partake in their classes. Virtual meetings beyond the class setting face similar issues; I swear, it’s a coin flip as to whether or not my microphone will work properly whenever I join a Google Hangouts session! And some things are just bound to be lost in translation without the ability to truly interact in-person. Oh, if only there were a better way…


Another main way to lose track of time is by watching TV shows. New mini-series “Tiger King” has become a smash hit during the midst of quarantine.  Photo via IMDb.com

Another main way to lose track of time is by watching TV shows. New mini-series “Tiger King” has become a smash hit during the midst of quarantine. Photo via IMDb.com

Looking beyond our academic obligations, technology’s arguably an even greater source of entertainment than ever under these circumstances. But whether or not that’s a positive development remains to be seen. With every major sports league having suspended or outright cancelled its season, appealing TV offerings have been few and far between for me. But hey, at least there’s still the legendary all-winners season of “Survivor”… and now I can finally catch up on those incessant reruns of “The Office!” Naturally I, among many of you, have turned to Netflix and other streaming services for a wider variety of new programming options. In fact, just this weekend a couple of my friends introduced me to that “Tiger King” docuseries, which is one of the most disturbing yet fascinating and entertaining things I’ve watched in awhile. Video games are another entertainment outlet that’s been explored more widely in these times; I for one will start playing “Animal Crossing: New Horizons” soon (and don’t worry, the irony of this sudden shift from “Tiger King” to “Animal Crossing” isn’t lost on me. Even in these trying times I maintain my sense of humor!).

Such activities are quite harmless in moderation, but the biggest offender has to be our uptick in social media consumption. I’ve spent countless hours each day scrolling through my Twitter feed, which consists exclusively of political outcry, NFL free agency updates (a.k.a. the only true sports news on tap), sickeningly funny coronavirus memes and all things “Animal Crossing” (evidently I’m not the only one seeking a home away from home). I mean, how can I resist such captivating content? Certainly I, alongside many of you, have been struggling to determine how best to occupy my time beyond schoolwork (which I’m barely even motivated to focus on at this point). After all, it’s difficult when you can’t simply lose your mind over “Super Smash Bros. Ultimate” with your apartment mates, or hang out with your friends for a night of fun and laughs. I understand that we must fill up our newly vacated schedules somehow, but we should be careful not to become too consumed within these sedentary hobbies (and to devise alternatives in case our internet connections die out).

Unlike the coronavirus, our obsession with technology appears to be an infection that can’t be contained. Regardless, we must do our best to mitigate it in order to remain somewhat productive and benefit our collective wellbeing.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by individual writers in the opinion section do not reflect the views and opinions of The Daily Campus or other staff members. Only articles labeled “Editorial” are the official opinions of The Daily Campus.

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Michael Katz is a weekly columnist for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at michael.i.katz@uconn.edu.

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