The Collegiate Laws of Life Essay Contest asked Penn State Students to explore ethical values and intercultural issues, and their talent for expressing their views in writing.

Below, you will find the honorable mention essay from Adam Oren, responding to the prompt:

“It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity.” ~Albert Einstein.

Has the rise in technology and social media disabled our ability to communicate? Or has it enabled us?

Our Obsessive Relationship with Social Media

By: Oren Adam


It’s an ever-present obsession, almost like an addiction. It’s as if our generation would suddenly cease to function without it. As every text, tweet, and notification pops up, we refuse to turn away from the bright screen that is our cell phone. Whether it is between classes, on the bus to my apartment, or even in the rare instances when I’m sitting with my family at home eating dinner, the urge to tune in to the digital world is undeniable. Our generation obsesses over the need to tweet or post every moment of our lives, and I would be remiss not to include myself. In essence we are obsessed with obsessing over ourselves. Society as a whole is quickly moving away from face-to-face interaction and towards face-to-screen interaction. Of course there are positives to technology and social media: it has effectively removed barriers of geography and language, has democratized the world’s information, and has even enhanced the way we do business. But it has come at a cost. We have begun to lose our humanity. The desire to explore the once unexplored world has now been replaced with Google, YouTube, and anything that glues us to a computer screen, and gives us instant gratification. I often see six, seven, and eight year olds sporting iPhones, iPads, and laptops, while back when I was their age, the only thing I ever wanted to do was play in the mud and run around. I believe that social media, while powerful, hinders our communication and removes emotion and value behind what we write and post. We become so immersed in the digital world that we often forget to appreciate what’s around us. It seems as if social media diminishes the beauty behind “real” life as we so desperately feel the need to share these experiences with the world rather than just sitting back and enjoying it ourselves. This is prevalent in all walks of life, whether at sporting events, concerts, parties, etc. it’s hard not to notice how people seem more concerned about the video or photo taken at the event rather than simply enjoying the event itself. I’d even dare to say that because of social media, our and subsequent generations will become completely out of touch with domestic and world issues. While most of us twiddle our thumbs, there are real problems that many seem to be unaware of. With statistical evidence that points to a majority of young women who would rather win America’s Top Model than the Nobel Peace Prize, it’s not hard to point to social media as a problematic factor. It’s become a form of sensationalized media, where every waking moment of a celebrity’s life is “followed” by millions of people. Famous Poet Slam artist Marshall “Soulful” Jones once stated in his poem, “doubled over we used to sit in tree tops/till we swung down and stood upright/then someone slipped a disc now we are doubled over at desktops/from the Garden of Eden to the branches of Macintosh/ apple picking has always come at a great cost/ iPod iMac iPhone iChat/I can do all of these things without making eye contact.” With employers now using social media as a method of assessing job candidacy, my once obsessive desire to post about every waking moment of my life has quickly diminished. As I said before, social media is powerful, but also dangerous. So I urge all you texters, tweeters, and online chatters to take a break, lift up your heads, and look outside once in awhile, you might actually like what you see.

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