Are We Slaves to the Internet?

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Do you find yourself at the library casually scrolling down your Facebook feed? Do you find yourself looking at every single person’s Snapchat story in the middle of class? Maybe you need a break from that new, sleek iPhone 7 of yours and try to hang out at Starbucks with your friends. But the plot-twist? Leave the technology at home. The Internet does not own you…no matter how much you think it does.

How Important does the Internet’s Role Play in Students’ Lives?

Social media calls your name as soon as you pick up your phone to decide your plans for the weekend. Checking out Facebook or Snapchat for the most exciting event on a Friday night may help to finalize your evening. Maybe you missed the Grammy’s and want to read up on the gossip so you find your way to Google. Regardless, the Internet is calling your name.

2017 seems like the year in which every college student uses the Internet at one point or another. Keeping up-to-date with Saturday night plans, networking on LinkedIn or following trending news about Kylie’s new set of lips keeps students addicted to social media platforms like Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, Tumblr. The list can go on forever. “The Internet has become an important part of our lives and our culture, so not being connected is being ‘out of the loop,’” said Professor of Psychology at Rider University Dr. John Suler.

Try not to forget how significant the use of the Internet becomes in the S-word too…School. Professors love using the modern age of the Internet to assign tasks requiring students to spend hours and hours on their laptops. From research papers to discussion boards, the Internet remains an inevitable part of student’s lives.

The Internet’s intent for academic purposes claims to be efficient, yet the effectiveness seems to distract more than anything. Ever feel tempted during biology class to see how many likes you got on your new Facebook profile picture? Did you take your phone out of your backpack and become instantly distracted by the endless notifications on your home screen?

Every student can be guilty of doing this.

“I rarely get through an assignment or class without checking Facebook or Instagram. As I’m taking notes in class, I will get notifications and go check them and then get sidetracked from the lecture,” said Florida State University junior Madison Fox. The Internet has become an interconnected force in students’ lives, combining two seemingly unrelated things: academics and social life.

So Are College Students All Captive to an Internet Addiction?

Are students slaves or perpetrators of Internet usage? “I was raised by the Internet,” Lena Dunham, creator and star of Girls, once said. Dunham, like all millennials, belongs to the first generation to grow up and become dependent on the Internet. “I think we all have become ‘addicted’ to the Internet. If anyone thinks otherwise, tell them to turn off their devices for one full day,” said Dr. Suler. For one full day? College students have trouble distancing themselves from their devices for an hour, especially when watching their favorite re-runs of Friday Night Lights.

Maybe those notifications on iPhones and laptops that encourage the addiction serve as the culprit of Internet addiction. “Remember that tech companies want us to be ‘addicted,’ which is why they invented things like notifications that keep pulling us back into cyberspace,” said Dr. Suler. When your phone rests on your desk during an hour and 30-minute lecture, and those Snapchat notifications keep popping up, it can be hard to ignore them.

But remind yourself that maybe the guilt lies with you as the perpetrator rather than as the victim of your Internet addiction.

“I think phones and computers are just devices, but some people treat them as an entity that is way more important than that. They can become attached in my opinion as not necessarily ‘slaves,’ but I mean attached in a sense that they are sort of imprisoned by their own self-reliance to their devices,” said Radford University senior Brendan Smith. Students believe the Internet trapped them. But in reality, they trapped themselves, kind of like James Franco in 127 Hours (harsh, but true).

No, We Are Not Slaves to The Internet

Remember the groundbreaking virtual love story in the movie Her when Joaquin Phoenix literally fell in love with the Internet? How exactly does he fall in love with an intangible object? Spoiler alert: Just like all of you, he became dependent on her. AKA the Internet.

Well, maybe your virtual weakness lies in something different than Phoenix’s.

Perhaps your weakness pertains to scrolling down your Instagram feed during dinner with your friends. Or tweeting about your professor during class. Regardless of where your weakness resides, it may be time to separate yourself from the encircling convenient bubble of cyberspace.

“Sometimes less is more,” said Dr. Suler. Easing away from the Internet can be hard but definitely worth it. Yes, it is tempting to Facebook stalk your recent ex for hours on end or binge watch every season of Breaking Bad from the comfort of your couch. But remember you own the Internet. It does not own you.

Alex is a senior at Florida State University studying History and International Affairs. When she isn’t attending music festivals, she is busy watching Saturday Night Live and keeping up with contemporary trends. Born and raised in New York, Alex has adopted writing as a way to convey her fast paced and dynamic life.

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