Open Letter to My Fellow Teenagers

By: Kaitlyn Long // Apex AOIT – Class of 2016

We are children of the technology era. Our parents are the ones that developed the concept of machines that are smarter than humans, and our grandparents drew the blueprints for the earliest shadow of computing.

Today, we are becoming increasingly dependent on the technology at our fingertips. Where classrooms previously buzzed with conversation prior to the bell, we now sit idly mesmerized by a 4-inch screen. Where social gatherings previously relied on the voices of those involved to generate laughter, different Vines are now the source of our temporary giggles. The term “hanging out” has morphed from several people getting together to enjoy each other’s company and personalities to several people getting together to scroll through Twitter.

You see, technology has given us an out. When a situation turns into one that may not be slightly favorable, we turn to our phones to fill up empty space. What happens when our source of social refuge is suddenly gone?

I have a question for you.

How would you survive if you couldn’t use a cell phone? No Snapchatting, no tweeting, no Instagram, no texting, no Vine. Nothing that relates to modern technology for one day. No laptops, no tablets, no TV’s, no MP3s, no phones, nothing.

What would you do? What would keep you entertained? What’s your passion?

We all have that one thing. That thing we love doing that makes us feel as though we are in a world comprised solely of ourselves and the joy brought to us by that activity. Everyone has one, though you may not have an easy time coming up with one that doesn’t involve technology. Think back to your childhood, when touch screens were for the elite of the upper echelon and cell phones still had antennae. What did you love to do then? Maybe it was going outside and throwing a ball with someone; maybe it was drawing or writing or building a tower with blocks.

My point is, whatever your passion may be, pursue it.

Our generation has a strong tendency to be controlled by hashtags and retweets and likes. Our people skills are growing barren, consisting only of the raw skeletons on which our basic knowledge of the subject lies. Lest of course, they are consistently taught and practiced.

All of this has been caused by innovations of the developed world, in an attempt to compete with the rest of the privileged population. And all of this, in the name of “success” and “progress.”

What interesting words. They have meanings generally associated with doctors and lawyers and CEOs and other 6+ figure salaries. But, what about the farmer that went from a family farm trying to put dinner on the table to a commercial farm that feeds 233 people? Is that not success? Is that not progress?

Our teachers and parents and mentors have all told us different things about their idea of success. But, though all of these successes and progressions are unique and good in their own right, how will we define our successes, our progressions? Will we commit our daytimes to a profession we despise so that we can dry our tears with the dollars we make? Or will we adamantly and without remorse pursue a existence that beams our smiles and warms our heart?

How has our society—more specifically, our generation—gotten so disconnected where we should be permanently tethered, and bonded to all of the things that keep us temporarily engaged? And for what? For an entirely digitized planet? For a computer that can out-think the human brain?

Instead of encouraging technology to control our lives, while we long ago lost our grip on the means of control that we had on it, why aren’t we fostering relationships? Why aren’t we building skills?

Why is our world revolving around the epicenter that is progress? Why aren’t we chasing our passions?

Because now, the only passion left is for progress.

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