Social Media Downside–A better Answer?

A law professor at Pace University noticed that the students he observed in a colleague’s classroom all took notes when the professor was speaking, but the rest of the time, when students were commenting, for example, they used their laptops to shop or check on Facebook. He then decided to ban all laptops in his own classroom. What he discovered was that when students were without laptops they interacted with each other. The discussions were livelier and hopefully more interesting. He explains in his NYT article that to him training good lawyers includes skills in human values and human interaction, so the banning of laptop was a teaching tool. But for the rest of us the whole issue is more than being a good lawyer. It is being a good human being. That indeed involves knowing how to interact with people, how to read them, be sensitive to what they say and how they act. Laptops are an essential part of our lives and I for one do not wish to go back to the time when they did not exist. That however ought not to make us blind to how they reflect a negative aspect of much of the technology which makes our lives easier. We gain in efficiency, time, we expand less effort to do given tasks, but trite as it’s become, we lose the human touch. It’s particularly evident in texting and in tweets. Our thoughts and emotions are truncated, do away with nuances, acquire a directness which at times runs close to being rude or insensitive. The answer given to such downside of technology is usually to disconnect. I am not at all sure that that is the answer. To my mind the answer is forethought, awareness, recognition of how these media affect us. In itself this kind of reflection would make us place using social media in perspective, hopefully not make it the chief way we communicate with people, but allow us to at least try to complement and compensate by adding human contact. Our mindfulness in using texts, tweets et al might even make us more sensitive.