Sherri Winans
Whatcom Community College
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Valerie Chin
English 201
Essay 4
December 2002

Generation Technology

Looking back, I cannot recall much of life without having access to the computers or Internet. Being from my generation, born in the early 80’s, computers had already become a commodity: a part of everyday life. We simply grew up with them. This same idea applies to the Internet as well. I have vague recollections of even learning how to use it, which is why I was taken back by a recent discussion in my English class.

In the discussion we talked about the Internet and technology--a few of its benefits and our doubts about it. These opinions come from a class that consists of a few who are older and wiser, but mainly the class formulates around a group of old-aged teenagers and youngsters in their early to mid-twenties. This was what surprised me. I figured that growing up in generation that had quickly adapted to fast paced technology would look down on writing letters by hand and researching by books. But from what I observed it seemed like more than half the class who participated in this discussion verbalized negative thoughts about the Internet. Most people talked about the Internet being too impersonal. Someone mentioned the ridiculousness of taking time out of their day to check their e-mail only to find junk mail in their box. Most mentioned that they preferred old-fashioned face to face communication. And while they all made very lucid arguments, I sat quietly in the back reflecting on my experiences with computers and the Internet, thinking that my opinion about the Internet is just the opposite. The way I see it, the Internet is a world of opportunity, and for me, the benefits of e-mail, Instant Messaging and surfing the Web are just what I need.

E-mail has truly become a part of my life. Sometimes I am able to type out my thoughts, problems, concerns or whatever is on my mind at the time and with the click of a button, send this digital letter to a friend or family member in another area code or time zone and receive feed back all in the same day! Usually it is the utmost highlight of my regular days. Most connections are so fast as well as the rate of sending and receiving that mail. It’s an amazing gift. For me it’s the equivalent of getting letters from loved ones in the mail everyday.

Aside from its easy stay-in-touch communication, I’ve learned that e-mail has allowed me to express myself freely. Face to face confrontation has always been intimidating to me. In the past it's been hard for me to confront people, such as my parents, or let people know how I feel emotionally and mentally by verbal communication. Don't get me wrong, I'm a social animal, but I find confrontation and expressing my exact thoughts difficult. However, I've found that when I write down my feelings I am able to emotionally and mentally state exactly how I feel. This applies to writing on computers as well. In both cases, I love looking at the neat, bright white screen. I love that with the solid press of a button, you can erase or cut and paste your thoughts in a heartbeat. With no mess left behind! I love that I have the choice to listen to some soothing music on my home computer, courtesy of Winamp and listen to the tapping of the keys as I record a flow of words and (very quickly might I add) new ideas onto this window of opportunity in front of me. Typing on computers or writing an e-mail are creations which have allowed my hands to keep up with my mind. This way I can think out my thoughts and reveal them in an organized manner instead of spontaneous blabber.

However convenient computers and e-mail may already be, the Internet geniuses have created an even faster way to communicate than by e-mail. This is known as Instant Messaging. I have found that it is a great way to keep in touch with people near or far. The benefit of it is that you can choose to chat with your friends, or not, with the option of "blocking" them, or signing on as a different name. The choice is yours. You can even pick colors and writing styles for character. It allows you to talk simultaneously to your roommate (ten feet away) and to a friend in Boston (2000 miles away).

So for those of you who feel intimidated or think the Internet is too "impersonal," you may be looking in the wrong direction. Instant Messaging is about as personal as you can get. Even though there are loads of options for you to choose from online (now people are paying online, joining chat rooms and designing their own websites and video clips while posting them on the web), my advice is to stick to simpler, less exposing areas of the Internet, such as e-mail and Instant messaging. Sure, you’ll get junk mail in your e-mail box, but isn’t it as frustrating when you receive phony advertisements through your actual mail box? And what do you do with it? You throw it away. It’s just as simple online. You delete it. See, computers and the Internet have been created mainly to help make life simple. Remember, it’s just a form of communication. I guess what I’m trying to say to you is that I feel it’s okay to rely on computers and Internet. It’s just as risky as depending on a friend or the post office to deliver a message or your mail to the correct person or address. The Internet is just a faster way of doing it.

Though I know there are alternatives to computers and the Internet I have realized that looking into the past, present and future, technology has become mandatory to incorporate it into our lives. I say this from the perspective of being a member of a young generation who grew up with these conveniences. And I say this also knowing that others, even in my generation, may not share the same experiences. But whether you enjoy computers and the Internet or not, I think we are all wondering and fearing the same thing; will technology will take over the world someday? It's a growing trade and new creations are being thought up day by day. I am wondering if we are a society trying to ignore the fact that technology has not reached its final destination. Will we ever think up some kind of device that could outsmart mankind? How ironic would that be? It is a scary thought.

Technology is spreading and more and more businesses require computer experience. Nowadays, college professors are even posting their lectures on their own web pages. People are downloading pictures, communicating with people in different time zones, shopping online and even coordinating the World Wide Web into their cellular phones. My point is, that in this high-tech society, you don’t necessarily have to use all of these options when using the Internet (or even your cell phone). These are generated to simply make things in everyday life more convenient. Such a world we live in today, one that is complex in technology (whether good or bad), has created a wave of security and luxury that the world has become mercilessly dependent on. Do I agree with the concept of downloading pictures onto your wireless cell phone? In my opinion, it has its pros and cons. Do I feel that it is okay to respond and communicate by technology such as e-mail and IM and rely on devices such as the computer to write this paper?

For that, my answer is yes.


Copyright 2003
Valerie Chin


Funded through the U.S. Dept. of Education, Title III Grant PO31A980143
Sherri Winans, Whatcom Community College, Bellingham, WA