Hoverboards on campus: Has technology gone too far?

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The first time I saw a hoverboard (one of those little plank-like contraptions with two wheels that people stand on to get to class these days), I, like everyone else on the SMU campus, stared. I bet some people were thinking “Wait how cool!” or “How is he not falling off of that thing?”

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(Courtesy of YouTube)

However, my initial reaction consisted of me saying something along the lines of “Well, it seems we don’t even need our legs anymore.” And as I continue to see these boards around campus, I can’t help but think of a few things: our health, the impact technology is having on our human relationships, and what we choose, as college students, to spend our money on.

I may be biased because I like being active and “enjoy” running and walking outside, but I honestly don’t understand why we need to replace walking with a machine. I keep track of how many steps I take a day, and on a normal day walking around campus, I walk over 10,000 steps, which is roughly four miles and a 350 calorie burn. You don’t even realize it, but just walking from class to class is a workout in itself. While most of us sit behind a desk all day, it makes me feel better to know that I am using my legs. Let’s not turn into the obese humans from the Disney movie Wall-E that rely on technology to move.

Don’t get me wrong, I love getting from place to place as quickly and efficiently as possible. So going from class to class on a hoverboard makes sense, right? Quicker, more efficient, not as tiring? Wrong.

SMU students, we are forgetting the value that walking with our peers to class has on our daily lives. A couple of weeks ago, I watched an SMU student try to have a conversation while on a hoverboard with two or three other students who were walking beside him. The students walking were able to engage with one another, make hand gestures, and communicate with body language, while the student on the hoverboard was focused on dodging bodies and trying not to drive the board into the grass – all while trying to enter his friends’ conversation. (He ended up picking up the board and walking, by the way).

Lastly, these boards cost anywhere from $300-$900. Do I really need to explain why I prefer walking to class? You’re better off buying an old-fashioned, non-chargeable bike (if they even make those anymore).

I’m not hating on technology improvements; most are great, and I think new technologies are able to help people around the world in ways that we have never been able to before. But there is a fine line between helping and hurting, and at what point are we willing to ask ourselves if we have let technology go too far?

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