September 3, 2018

GUEST ROOM | My Snapchat Filter

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It’s a well known fact that we have been surrounded by technology in almost all aspects of our lives. With buzzwords such as AI, deep learning, blockchains coming every month, technology now commands a lot of attention. And not in a good way. By surrounding, I mean a constant bombardment. By commanding attention, I mean controlling us. Ironically, we are at the mercy of the a tiny, human device, which was designed to keep us in touch and does anything but that now on a deep level.

Any reader of this line who disagrees and tells me they have over 1000 Facebook friends and/or Instagram followers should carefully consider the superficiality of their assertion. All social media today is an endless bottom pit of posts that reflect how obsessed as a society we are with ourselves and showing off. Enjoying an unexpected, thrilling moment is no longer as fun as trying to recreate an Instagram Boomerang of what just happened. Why are we concerned with showing off to a bunch of people, 90 percent of whom we don’t interact with on a daily basis? Is it an issue of self-worth, that we find joy in knowing that we are a part of someone who has ‘liked’ our post? Whatever it is, it is eating our society, and fast. We are constantly on our devices — I have noticed friends “meeting” for a meal only to be on their respective phones the entire time, and watched the new normal, which is a family of four all on their gadgets while having dinner. There is conversation — but of the kind that even a third grader would understand. Besides making me feel extremely embarrassed and saddened, I reminisce of a time when dinnertime had some value, and when people actually talked about their lives openly during a meal.

I do not deny that I have occasionally made mistakes of the kinds that I have stated above and that I am above this. What is different about them is that I have come to develop a conscious understanding of what I am doing, and as a result I have refrained from a lot of these activities. It is important to know this because a lot of times being surrounded by screens makes people irritated when they return to the real world without their realizing, and this causes them to fixate more on their gadgets. It is easy to blame tech companies for our addiction, and in part it is true — our social media accounts have been carefully designed by people who sit in rooms and plan on how we can spend more time on their devices so that they can make more money. However, if we are not careful to realize this, it may be too late. After all, we must realize that it is we who are in control of the device, and not the other way around. So who are the humans we deal with everyday? Are they the people we know or have they just applied a filter of some kinds on themselves?

Raghav Batra is a senior in the College of Arts and Sciences. Guest Room runs periodically. Comments can be sent to opinion@cornellsun.com