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Let’s talk, not text

Brian Hartnett | Sunday, December 8, 2013

Over the last few weeks, I’ve had way too many thoughts about what I consider the dreaded “G” word – graduation.
In full disclosure, I’m not one of the approximately 2,000 seniors set to graduate in May. My graduation date doesn’t arrive for another year and a half.
Still, as I’ve been preparing to study abroad next semester, I’ve had to combat the sad realization that I only have two semesters and about 10 days remaining on campus.
Naturally, facing this realization evokes several emotions, the most common of which is regret.
Now, regret is a term I like to avoid, mainly because it seems to marginalize the impacts of the actual choices one has made. And I’m certainly happy with the sum of my decisions here at Notre Dame.
But at the same time, regret does cause one to look at the roots of missed past opportunities and see what changes they can make to take advantage of future opportunities.
In my case, that involved looking at some of the reasons why I didn’t try to get to know those around me better – fellow residents of my dorm, classmates, members of some of the activities I participate in, etc.
And in investigating these reasons, I came up with one common thread – my over-reliance on technology.
I’ll be the first to admit that if there were an Olympic competition for internet surfing, I might have a good shot at medaling. I’ve spent more time than I can count perusing news sites and social media outlets.
And while these ventures into the web have filled my brain with plenty of inane facts, it’s also detracted from the time I could have spent with others, people who have richer stories than can be found in a wall of text.
I still remember a recommendation my mother made during my first few days of college: “Don’t get too caught up in social media. Your friends and family will still be there when you get back.”
I wish I had heeded her warning right then and there. While it’s important to maintain past relationships, it’s equally important to cultivate new ones.
Fortunately, I’ve realized this tech obsession is not just limited to me. I can’t even begin to count the number of times I’ve gone to a dinner or party and seen everyone texting more than actually talking.
Unfortunately, this issue will never quite go away, especially as technology evolves. But I do have a pretty simple solution for it. Over these final few days of the semester, put down the phones and laptops (except when you need them to study, of course).
They’ll still be there when you get back.