Opinion: Louis C.K., cellphones and social networking

Shawn Mercer

Shawn Mercer

Shawn Mercer is a senior integrated life sciences major and a columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected]

The great bard, Louis C.K., upon appearing on Conan last Thursday had something to say: chiefly, that he was not going to get his kids a cellphone.

Among the reasons Louis C.K. cited was no less than cellphones take away a child’s humanity. Important qualities such as being able “to just sit there” make eye contact and empathize with another human are hindered by our phone’s ability to keep us casually satisfied. That is the key’ we are just satisfied.

The inherent sadness and uncertainty that creeps into our lives from time to time is held at bay by our products. Accordingly, Louis C.K. points out there is no rainbow without the rain, and we are merely semi-validating ourselves with whomever texts us back or likes our posts on Facebook.

At times, I am guilty of Louis C.K.’s criticisms, and I am inclined to agree we need time to just be with ourselves. Cellphones, social media and technology in general are supposed to augment our lives, not replace them. I have come to realize there is nothing more real than spending time with your friends and loving people you care about. Simply talking face to face, asking somebody how their day was, the nuances of posture and language, vocal inflection and even the chemical signals our bodies give off, are all parts of communication that are utterly lost in the airwaves as we send a text or Facebook message.

Our cellphones and social media can be a means of escaping our problems rather than facing them. Accordingly, they can dull the mind and harden the soul to those around us. We can throw insults, make political statements, troll arguments and hurt feelings without a second thought to the humanity of it all. At times anonymity can be synonymous with cruelty.

Cellphones and social media are of course not all bad but rather must be looked at as a means to an end. Cellphones are great little gadgets when used as a complement to our daily lives. We seldom get lost or have to ask for directions, we have a decent camera on us at all times, and we are able to keep our friends and family in the loop about developing plans, our location and ultimately, our safety. Facebook, among other social networking sites, can be used to plan parties and send out invitations, share photos or share important happenings in our life.

This leaves us is with a call to enhance and embrace the love and lives of others through technology. In the realm of cellphones and social media, it seems it would be best to encourage, empower and better plan for a happy and productive life here in the real world. Thus, we must constantly be aware of these things so that we do not become incapable of living our lives without the crutch of our cellphones and social media.