Ever since we unabashedly started carrying the internet with us to the toilet, it’s been a welcome instrument to sap up our mental energy in just about all ways we deem worthy. Or unworthy. Personally, I use it to infinitely swipe through the mythic legend that is “the two good photos of me that exist”. Whether it’s from your own choices or the choices of the people around you, access to personal laptops, tablets and smartphones will always create more opportunities to interfere with our attention, in the form of:
- Facebook Messenger
- Dating sites (Tinder, PoF, Bumble)
- Online Games
- News Sites
- and more the internet hasn’t thought of yet.
In regards to the behaviors of engagement in the people around you, it can sometimes (read: infinitely more than sometimes) create frustrating difficulties in the university classroom.
Speaking anecdotally as a long-time on-and-off attendee of different post-secondary institutions in Calgary: students are frequently citing problems and venting their irritations specifically towards the classroom environment. A frequent issue that arises when other students are quite obviously engaged in non-academic material. This by itself however, is not the crux of the problem. It seems that the involuntary observers are annoyed at this breach of classroom code because of the fact they are involuntary observers. For those who legitimately have no idea what I’m talking about, oh my god.
You see, in a violation of a mostly unspoken classroom etiquette (unspoken of course, up until the flash-mob-esque impromptu debriefing session that always takes place immediately after, clear across campus, and bonds everyone within a 15 foot radius in a group chat and a blood ceremony for life), the classmate made no effort to hide what they were doing; they didn’t try to sit near the back of the class or out of the way; and the content being viewed was quite possibly the most out-of-context and distracting subject matter that they could possibly think of (I watched the first season of Jersey Shore along with the entire back row of Intro to Geology in 2010). Except they didn’t think of it, they stumbled into a ravine of blood boiling hatred coming from 30 chronically dehydrated and sleep-deprived alcoholics. The perpetrator gave no thought to the space they were in, while appearing to pay very little care to the fact that others could obviously see what he or she was doing. In this case, many would say that it’s rude (it is) and they should sit out of the way (they should). University students love absolutely nothing more than to mind their own business and pay no mind to anybody else – so when your placement of attention evolves from a choice of personal engagement into an involuntary public viewing and the death grip of a group chat, they will detest you on principle. University students love nothing more than to detest something on principle, so good luck crawling out of that ditch.
With all of this in mind, three students offered their perspectives on personal technology in their lectures, based on their current experiences in university. Andrew Fletcher is a 30-year-old mechanical engineer and current graduate student, in his final year of an MBA program; Nadine Storm is a 28-year-old undergraduate student in her second year of studying Linguistics; and Ihncheol Jung is a 20-year-old undergraduate student in his second year of studying Zoology. You can listen to their experiences and perspectives here: