A Student Perspective on the way Digital Devices Influence Relationships

Steven Wade croppedSteven Wade, a fourth-year Film Studies student at UC Davis, offers an interesting perspective on the way digital devices influence relationships in the below essay, which he wrote in response to the “Perfect Page of Prose” assignment for Dr. Andy’s Technocultural Studies 191: Writing Across Media.

Wade aspires to be a screenwriter and illustrator for film, especially in the horror genre.


The Social Collective

Star Trek’s Borg may be an apt, albeit unintended, metaphor for the average smartphone/tablet/netbook user. Whereas the Borg cube is a vessel in the Star Trek universe which assimilates terrified alien species into the Borg collective, our real world equivalents are cell phone retailers, who facilitate entry into the social media collective. In our real world, entry into social media networks is voluntary and often necessary for those who desire to maintain some level of social interaction. This interaction occurs within environments which encourage group-thought such as Facebook and Twitter, among others, which represent our own “collective” of social network users.

The merits of maintaining constant connectivity with the people in one’s life are undeniable. Yet for some, this connectivity can largely replace physical conduct. This trend epitomizes the Borg analogy: a person can constantly monitor his phone or other device, engrossed in the “collective” while in physical proximity to another human being.  Like a Borg drone, this person has no need to communicate verbally since he has access to the collective, and therefore the thoughts of each other member of the “collective.”

Overexposure to thoughts, feelings, and opinions of others within the “collective” may influence the increasing emotional distance to those encountered within the physical world. While the overarching implications of this trend are difficult to see, the annoyance on your friend’s face when he must repeat himself for the third time because you were checking your Facebook should be clearly visible. As free-thinkers, we should maintain a clear divide between one’s physical and electronic interactions, lest they fuse together inextricably.

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