One of the worst ways we can be distracted by technology is by texting and driving. Carsten Frauenheim | Mustang News

Abdullah Sulaiman is a general engineering senior and Mustang News columnist. The views expressed in this column do not reflect the viewpoints and editorial coverage of Mustang News.

Is your phone becoming slow? Have you seen the newest movie? Have you binged the latest Netflix series? Do you know the stats of your favorite sports team? Have you checked your Facebook, scrolled through Instagram, posted something on your Snapchat story? Do you have the newest gaming console? Are you being entertained or doing something fun this weekend?

These are questions many people worry themselves with.

How are we going to change the government so that it acts in the interest of the people? How are we going to get back net neutrality? Are we going to passively accept this front-loaded tax plan? How are we going to solve the disparity in income? How are we going to unite a divided nation/world? Can we achieve a state of widespread peace? Where do we start?

These are questions many people are not worrying about enough, or at least have not been addressing in an effective manner.

There is a common avenue we all use today which has shaped our perspectives and the questions we ask ourselves: media entertainment and materialism.  Which we are exposed to through the advanced technology in computers and televisions. Technology in the 21st century has changed the way we live in nearly all aspects of life, from the way we learn to the way we teach, travel, communicate or access any kind of information, such as news, cooking recipes, statistics, academic knowledge and more. Technology’s grasp and integration in our lives and on future intellectual and physical progress is unbreakable.

The modern-day computer, such as the smartphone, is an amazing piece of technology that has a multitude of benefits, most notably access to information and ease of global communication. The increased access to information through any form of media, academic and nonacademic, is nothing short of amazing.

Although computers and televisions can have the benefits previously mentioned, what happens when we are constantly exposed to a plethora of media such as Facebook, video games, movies, shows and others? Many of us become, or already are, distracted; myself included. We try to live our lives by the examples that are presented to us, or at the very least we become complacent and apathetic because we are satisfied with what we have and are overwhelmed with the hard and intimidating task of change.

I believe the most notable byproduct is we stop gaining beneficial information, the type that has practical benefits to ourselves or society. We stop concerning ourselves with problems that plague our society and the world because we have an outlet for something that brings easy pleasure rather than depressing and harder-to-fix problems. The average person will spend nearly two hours (approximately 116 minutes) on social media every day according to The Telegraph. Furthermore, according to the A.C. Nielsen Co., the average American watches more than four hours of TV each day.

But the reality is that if more of us use these facets of technology to become more aware and engaged with these problems, then we can use all forms of media and technology to communicate and share information and stand together to have a voice that is heard.

This is a multi-step process that necessitates personal awareness first and foremost followed by spreading that awareness, which can generate a movement based on a moral imperative. A simple example of this is the ALS ice bucket challenge which generated $138 million in 2014 — $115 million more than it did the previous year.

Technology is an amazing platform to inspire change that has untapped potential. You just have to believe in yourselves and that your efforts can have an effect no matter how little it may seem. It might take some time but I promise, slowly but surely it will happen. Nothing happens overnight and we don’t need every person out there to try and influence positive change, we just need to reach critical mass.

So although you might not realize the effects that constant exposure and connectedness to our phones and media may be having on you or the massive potential that technology has, you just have to stop and think.

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