Give your laptop a break

McClatchy Tribune

McClatchy Tribune

Daniel Vasilchuk

Technology has advanced the ways we interact with others, but these improvements are encouraging people to become more focused on gadgets and programs instead of really communicating.

Our generation can connect with a multitude of players around the globe, just to play a game.

This type of online interaction is nothing new.

What is new is the high-resolution, super-realistic environments that video game consoles and computers provide.

“It’s not a game. It’s a world,” are the words that entice potential gamers at World of Warcraft’s sign-up page.

World of Warcraft, a multiplayer online role-playing game, unites gamers through battles and alliances in a huge fantasy world.

These gamers focus on making an impact in an online community rather than their real community.

Because of this, being able to interact with others face-to-face begins to become less important.

Social networking websites like MySpace and Facebook have the same negative impact.

These websites draw users in by connecting them to friends or acquaintances.

Although these websites are beneficial, after continued use, they may lead a person into feeling that the website profile is absolutely necessary.

Daily routines become centered on checking messages, uploading pictures and browsing profiles – this is what my life was like before deleting my MySpace profile in 2007.

At various events or activities, I was no longer snapping photos just for the memories.

I was doing it to share the pictures with my online friends.

The sharing of photos, videos, status updates and the like simply gives a whole new dimension to interaction with friends.

Apple iPhone’s Facebook application has allowed people to become even more obsessed with the website.

It has fueled our obsession with smartphones, or mobile phones with PC-like capabilities.

Technological developments over the years have provided smartphones with fast internet connections.

They have become a portal to another universe, and it is at times hard to focus on the people around us.

Phone companies are constantly working to create a better smartphone that would provide the best experience for the user.

This is leading to a gadget-centric life.

Mark Stoner, professor of communication studies, recently attended a gypsy punk concert by Gogol Bordello. He said that before the concert began, most of the people in the audience concentrated on their phones.

“These people were spending more time texting others or just staring at the screen, as opposed to having a conversation with the person next them – I think that’s a really strange development,” Stoner said.

To gain even more user attention, there is an iPhone app for everything, it seems.

A personal radio station, the news network and a virtual pool game are all at the touch of our fingertips.

Along with wasting our time and money, these apps can lead to less time spent hanging out with friends.

Instead of playing a virtual pool game, why not just hit up a local billiards parlor with a friend?

The iPhone does provide entertainment, but an app cannot fully substitute for a real conversation or activity.

That is all technology will ever be: a pathetic substitute for real life.

We were perfectly fine without all this before – we can be again.