Technology Addicts

There is a new breed of addict on the street, the breed that can only exist in a world full of technological marvels. These are the people who never make eye contact with you; they stare at their phone. These are the people who wait in line to buy the next Apple product at midnight, right as they’re stocking the shelves. And these are the people who insist on turning every activity into a selfie.

We all know people like this. They coexist with us in the strange world. In fact, you might even be in a room with one now, whether or not you know it. There is even a small chance, you might be one too.

But that is okay! In the world we live in, we all rely on technology for certain events in our lives. We’ve all been guilty of binge watching shows on Netflix, immersing ourselves in a video game marathon, and losing ourselves in the vast nothingness that is YouTube. These types of behaviors have become socially acceptable (for the most part) because we’ve all been caught doing it. Yet, does that truly make it right to do?

Even though we are all guilty of giving into our technological desires, there is still a stigma around these activities. Technology has begun to take on a very complex mantel. On the one hand, we love it. It helps us with daily activities and provides us with a form of relaxation. Yet, in stark contrast to this, we all fear technology. We’ve all seen those generic sci-fi films with the robots who take over the world and end humanity. So truly, between technology and people exists a love-hate relationship.

So how do we deal with this? We can’t exactly go completely towards or away from technology; we need it (this is somewhat debatable). Well, once again I don’t have a perfect answer. However, if you’ve read this blog, it’s a start. At the very least, by acknowledging this complex situation we can better acclimate to the world we live in.

Mobile Phones And Abercrombie
Documenting life in 2010.

*This unmodified picture is from:


Why do we Work?

People like money. Did you know that? In fact, I’d go as far to say that some people love money. I would not be surprised in the least to find out that somebody, somewhere, worships money; and this is very telling about the state of humanity.

When I first started thinking about college the first question was, what major? Almost immediately, there was a tornado of people telling me what to do with my life. Unsurprisingly, there was a resounding agreement on a few things I shouldn’t do as well. Namely, “don’t major in philosophy” and “Whatever you do, just don’t pick art history”. Disclaimer: no, I don’t say this to bash those majors, in fact it’s quite the opposite. Without even realizing it, I instinctively made the connection that because there were few job opportunities in those fields that I would not be happy. Yet, there is one key element missing here. It’s not the major that makes you unhappy, it’s the lack of work which begets a lack of money; and there’s the kicker. People seem to directly correlate wealth with happiness and, quite often, the line isn’t as clear as we think.

My professor loves to point out his situation. Archaeology has one of the lowest return rates of any college major, yet the people in the field have ludicrously high job satisfaction. How can this be? How can someone be happy and not spend their days swimming around in piles of their own wealth? The answer is simple. They love their jobs more than the love money *gasp-wheeze-girly scream*.

In America we love to compete. In fact, our entire economy is based on competition. Whether we are playing video games, attending college, or working in an office, we can’t help but feel the pressure of other people trying to outdo us; and they are right to try. In our society, you “get ahead” by putting someone else behind you. Welcome to capitalism.

At this point, it may seem to you that I hate our economic system, yet that is not true. I love the idea that one day I could rise to the top and be a part of that small little oligarchy of wealth. This possibility is what allows me to ignore the fact that this system inherently is designed to have people at the bottom. Sure, morally I feel a little guilty, but that’s just the way things have to be… or is it?

3422554_f9c8b10398_oCapitalism is America’s game. We love it. We adore it. We walk around in t-shirts with the word literally splattered across our chests. So no, changing the system really isn’t a fantastic idea. Yet, there are two important statements I would like to make. One, if we continue this system as it is, people need to understand that it is a choice. We don’t have to live the way we do, but we, as a majority, choose to. This may seem like an unfair statement to some, but if we really wanted to, we could change it. I believe this firmly.

Secondly, if capitalism is a game, we can choose not to play it. *more gasping and screaming* Wait… what did you say? Yeah, you heard me. No one said you can’t take the rule sheet out of the Monopoly box and scribble your own rules in. That being said, we still need to make money to survive, this is undeniable. Yet, we have the option to choose what we define as success. You don’t have to pick the job that pays more if it makes you miserable. Money makes life easier, not necessarily better, and that is a very significant distinction.

*The unmodified picture is from: /photos/jakecaptive/3422554

The Tipping-Point

creativity-819371_960_720In one of my recent blogs I used the phrase “Tipping-Point” to describe the moment when the division of labor between humans and machines reached a critical point. When I wrote this I was thinking when there was an even 50-50 between people and machines. Yet, I’ve recently been thinking that maybe it doesn’t even have to reach that point to become irrevocable. In many cases, simply by creating a technology the harm is already done. Technology is a fine example of the idea behind Pandora’s box. Once a certain technology is “let-out” there is no going back. And perhaps this is the actual “tipping-point” that I’ve been trying to identify.

This brings up the question that Professor Best loves to ask. “Will we know we’ve gone too far, before we’ve gone too far?” (or something to that effect, the exact words escape me). The problem is, every time we invent something, there is a risk that it may be one step passed what we can manage, and we can’t seem resist temptation. So as an engineer what do we do? Do we stop inventing? To site Best once again in regards to the Brooklyn bridge, “the Brooklyn bridge was not built to cross the East river, rather simply because it had to be built.” I think this encapsulates part of the essence of humanity. We have a drive to invent, to achieve, and to understand. In this way, we struggle to resist these core desires. So if we deny ourselves invention, are we not denying an integral part of our humanity? Yet, if we keep inventing without reserve, are we setting ourselves on a collision course with our extinction?

As soon as I figure out this problem, I’ll let you all know. Right now though, I’ll just focus on passing my finals.


Freshman Year

Perhaps I’m being a bit premature, but with only a month left I find myself reflecting on my first year at college. Technically, yes, I’m still a freshman. However, after seeing all of the new candidates sitting in on classes, and carrying their little white bags around, I realized I don’t really fit in with that class anymore. I’m in the puberty phase of college. It’s that awkward phase where you transition from “high-schooler” to full fledged university student.

Recently, while grabbing lunch at Hawks Nest, a woman walked up to me and asked how I was liking my time here at Lehigh. She proceeded to bring over her son, and they asked me a few more questions. I didn’t realize the significance of this moment immediately. Sure, it felt really nice that I could help this family out. Yet, more profoundly it finally hit me that I knew Lehigh. Not the “I know of Lehigh” or “I know my way around campus”; but a genuine understanding of how things work here. I know what it’s like to spend a day playing Frisbee on the lawn in front of Dravo. I know what it’s like to stay up for hours with a bunch of friends building blanket forts in each others rooms. I also know what it’s like to spend a day cramming for an exam, and the painfully restless night that ensues. So yes, I know Lehigh. And yet, there is still so much more to learn.

No, I don’t know what it’s like at other colleges. Yet, I know Lehigh and that is a truly blessed feeling. So again, maybe this a bit premature, but I wanted to get this out before finals came around in full swing. Lehigh is a wonderful school, and I’m glad to be a part of this community.3008159759_89dc405a81

*This unmodified picture is from:

The Cost of Efficiency

Time for a little story,

Once upon a time, my sister and I were given some money to spend on some food. So of course, the question became, “Where do we go?” As soon as I heard there was a Red Robin in the area, I knew my destiny. So we drove twenty minutes off campus and parked in the signature Red Robin parking lot. When we got inside, a waitress took us to our seats, prompted us to order our drinks and then pointed to a  little contraption sitting on the table. This little black tablet was designed to take our orders without waiter assistance. We could order our food at the literal press of a button (Yes, I’m counting touch-screens as buttons for the sake of that phrase). Of course, we didn’t really like that, so we tried to call her back whenever we could. Finally, after finishing our meals we decided to get desert and we flagged our waitress down. After telling her what we wanted, she reached over, and plugged our order into that little machine.

Before I start pointing out why this bothers me, let me just acknowledge that this piece of technology isn’t a bad idea. To be fair, in a busy restaurant like Red Robin, to have a server available at all times just isn’t feasible. However, my concern stems from when people start opting to only interact with the machine. Look at grocery stores, those new self check-out machines are growing in popularity (to my knowledge) while cashier registers gather dust. What will people do when technology replaces them in the workplace? We are growing ever closer to this “tipping-point” and I don’t think people have realized it. I site the waitress using the very technology that makes her obsolete to support this obliviousness.

Now I’m not arguing to remove this technology. I personally like having the option to order without having to flag someone down. I also understand the practicality of this piece of technology. Yet, I find it hard to believe that both of these options will be able to coexist for long. What does this mean for my dream of being a cashier at my local grocery store? I guess we’ll have to wait and see. maxresdefault


Exams: In Retrospect

As I recently mentioned the student body at Lehigh finds itself immersed in the exam process. We schedule are weeks (and work schedules) around the days we don’t have exams. This makes sense and is intuitive. You would not plan to do something on a day when you’re suffering from pre-exam pain and suffering.

I find myself thinking about the great feeling I had last semester when exams were finally over. Sure, I spent entire days rereading past lecture notes to study. However, in the end, when that moment finally hits you and you realize you are free; pure ecstasy. Strangely though this semester has been a bit rougher and I’ve been trying to figure out why. It hit me today. Like a brick.

Now this isn’t really a life-changing epiphany, and it also may be a bit obvious. That said, the difference between these two semesters is that in the current one, my exams are spread out. Initially, this might seem great. Cramming for two exams at once is like pulling teeth. Yet, my exam week has turned into three. For the past three weeks all I think about is the exam I had to study for that week. In this way, I’ve been stressed about exams for this entire time. Last semester I only had one week, and sure it was brutal; but it was quick. Note to future self: a week with three exams may hurt like the dickens, but freedom is just around the corner.


*This unmodified picture is from:


In a Mirror Darkly

I recently became aware of a show called “Black Mirror” and decided to watch the first episode. To add some context, the show is designed to be a spiritual successor to the renowned “Twilight Zone” and reflects on the darker aspects of human society.

To my surprise, even though I was sick and exhausted at 11:30 p.m. I was powerfully drawn into the show. Without spoiling anything, it made me question things like: “What is the value of a human life?” and ” Why are people fascinated by some of the most grotesque situations?”

To expand on the first question, the show creates a situation that weighs the value of a browser-98386_1280
political career and livelihood with that of a human life. As much as I would love to believe
that the answer is simple, it’s difficult to fully understand the gravity of the situation without being in it. I think most people would like to think that the value of the life should win outright. However, with how closely-knit and judgmental our peer groups are today, sacrificing our social status has a significantly greater impact than just the damage to our pride. This is augmented in no small part by social media and our constant connectivity to one another.

To address my secondary question, I must first admit that perhaps my opinion is a bit subjective. Back when I was in high school I was talking to a few of my friends about the television phenomena known as “The Walking Dead,” perhaps you have heard of it. On a few occasions my friends seemed to express an interest in living in a post-apocalyptic world. Yet, almost immediately they seemed to add the disclaimer: “but I wouldn’t really want that,” or something to that extent. In part, the pilot to “Black Mirror” draws out the absurdity of this innate duality of human desires. On the one hand, we seek pleasure and happiness. Then again, in stark contrast we all love to see an R- rated action film in theaters. Without rambling too much more, my point here is to simply point out that we are very complex beings. Sometimes the best way to understand and better ourselves is to simply be aware of our internal motivations; whether they be right or wrong. As my current calculus three professor loves to say: “All understanding begins with admiration” (Yukich, 2016)(though I think he might have been quoting someone else).