Are Millennials too dependent on technology?
Once again, we Millennials trudge reluctantly back to school, clutching tightly our precious electronic gadgetry, attached to us like umbilical cords — so that even our desperate teachers hesitate before confiscating them.
Like electric cars, we cannot function if we remain unplugged for too long. In fact, we lose our identity if we are not wired. Are we still friends, lovers, sons or daughters if we do not have instant access to our cellphones? Are we still functioning students without our iPod music to relax us and our laptops to provide us with Wikipedian answers?
Known as the Millennial or the Net Generation, teenagers today are heavily dependent upon technology. Whether it is for school research, networking with friends or entertainment, "I'll Google it" and "I'll Wiki it" have become the answers for almost every question.
With knowledge at our fingertips, we do not need to flip through huge encyclopedias to find the name of the Rwandan president, or to wobble home from the library lugging heavy books about genetics. However, the instant gratification of the Internet has its drawbacks.
The information highway has equipped teens with a broad expanse of generic knowledge (sometimes incorrect), while stripping them of creative thought. And society, with its research-based No Child Left Behind Act, is exacerbating this problem in its attempt to pigeonhole us through standardized testing.
Perhaps we should also be called the Multiple-Choice Generation — confident in our knowledge that the only theme worth considering in "Beowulf" is D: The triumph of good over evil.
From widgets in the testing factory to formulaic adults, we will collect other people's ideas, analyses and experiences. Gone are the days of the meditative monks, of the great thinkers like René Descartes or the great questioners like Socrates, for our generation abhors silence and distrusts originality.
Texting, Facebooking, Twittering have become the most vital verbs in the lives of teens today. While no one can deny the incredible use of instant communication — for example, this year, social networking served a great role in gaining support for the Tunisian and Egyptian revolutions — these networks lessen the need for physical contact.
Like in Darwin's law — the survival of the fittest — will nature soon select only those who have multiple-jointed opposable fingers and thumbs? Or even go far enough to relieve us of any vestigial organs or body parts, such as our legs and the cortex of our brain (where the thinking occurs), and provide us with essential organs that can store vast amounts of data and play internal video games?
When asked to imagine their lives without technology, students and teachers alike answered with some difficulty. "Zero technology? No." said Mr. Yocum, a history teacher at Marysville Charter Academy for the Arts.
Madeline Kellogg, a senior, said, "It would make life a lot simpler," while senior Izanie Love said, "Life would be more complicated without it." Makayla Synak, also a senior, said, "How can we? Technology has simply become a way of life."
Natalie Landau is a senior at Marysville Charter Academy for the Arts. Her column appears every six weeks in Education.