My View: Our so-called lives -- Is techno-chatter replacing relationships?


About the author: Samantha Bergeson of Portola Valley is a freshman at Menlo School in Atherton.

By Samantha Bergeson

It is said that life is what happens when we are too busy texting friends, e-mailing clients, and arranging birthday parties — or something of the sort.

High school itself seems to be lost in such a country.

Data from Nielsen Co. surveys shows that the average teenager types more than 80 text messages a day. How many moments of living are we missing?

In this technological age, life is not fully being experienced, and is instead replaced with abbreviations of emotions, a "LOL" instead of hearing someone laugh. Classmates now meet first on Facebook, the magic of introductions lost. Our lives are being consumed by the loss of instant moments, of true personal connections and simple communication.

Such a lack of contact between people is diminishing relationships, particularly among the young. Many of today's youth do not recall a time without a small, handheld cell phone.

According to the New York Times, texting, Twittering, and other "social media" threaten to affect how youth comprehend academic material. Research has shown that a student's relationships affect academic and social performance. A classroom filled with students sneaking text and Facebook checks may seriously detract from an individual's success in education.

Words themselves have become melded into easier, quicker ways to communicate. Texts barely contain vowels, with strings of sentences overlapping to make an obscure form of sense.

How can such simple letters replace a hug to a friend in need? Perhaps some view these new forms of technology as safer, more distanced. To some, it is easier to write than talk, hiding behind computers to find the comfort they need.

Yet emotions can get lost in translation, a typed smiley face viewed not as a welcoming, friendly approach but instead shown as sarcastic and mocking.

A romantic white orchid is now replaced with an "i luv u" text message, a birthday card with an e-mail from a singing pet.

No, these are not the courting days of Jane Austen's Darcy, nor even of Bridget Jones. Today, we show feelings, whether angry or kind, loving or worried, through abbreviated texts and instant messages.

How long will this anti-relationship frenzy last among high school students? If this isolation continues, how will our society change? What will the new definition of living be?

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Like this comment
Posted by Angela
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Mar 6, 2010 at 10:57 am

Samantha, I don't know you, but I'm so thrilled to read your marvelous column. May you continue to resist the empty trends you write about. And may you continue to express real emotions face-to-face, grow and thrive in the real world, and hug your friends, often and sincerely.

When you do choose to sit down an an electronic keyboard, though, please continue writing for all of us. I get the feeling you have some valuable things to say.

Like this comment
Posted by Grandmother of a Menlo Student
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Mar 8, 2010 at 1:28 pm

Good for you!! Hope all the Menlo kids read this.

Like this comment
Posted by Michael
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Mar 8, 2010 at 1:44 pm

Well done, Samantha! There may be many people who hold opposing points of view to yours, but I don't believe anyone can question the eloquence and cogency with which you make your point.

I would encourage you to continue to develop your writing. You clearly have "skillz." ;-)

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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