NORMAN — There is a community of 30,000 students on my campus, yet it feels like we are on our own isolated islands, specialized to our uniqueness. At the University of Oklahoma, students pass one another on the South Oval like ships in the night, each on a set course.
We’ve mastered walking with our heads down, staring at our phones, ear buds in place, while avoiding each other in perfectly orchestrated steps. We do not hear the birds singing or the buses chugging along to pick up their next load of students. Instead, we hear our favorite songs or funny podcasts.
Students obsessively check their text messages and email, Facebook and Twitter accounts. Always connected, never engaged in any authentic interpersonal relationships. People become numbers that continually increase your “friends.” It does not matter if you’ve never heard of your “friend” that has requested to be added to your list. Simply add them.
Students arrive at class and immediately set up their laptops so they can sign into Facebook and see what their friends are doing. What they find is that their friends are also on Facebook just wondering what they’re doing. So everyone is living — or not living — online in a world perfectly framed in Instagram. Everyone’s world comes with fancy photo filters: sepia, black and white, warm, cool and vintage.
We are not enjoying our best friend’s birthday dinner because we’re busy trying to capture a photo to post to Twitter that will show everyone how we’re living it up. Look at my delicious dinner entrée, envy my summer vacation to Paris, look how beautiful all my girlfriends are. Oh, and yes, that is my gorgeous boyfriend.
Isn’t college where you meet the sweetheart that you will marry? Isn’t it where you will meet that friend who will throw you a baby shower when you’re pregnant with your first child?