Better Technology, Horrible Connection

A monologue about a relationship turned sour because of a cell phone starts a conversations about technology, social media, and communication. Featuring conversations with a group of high school students from the Academy at Palumbo and tech life expert Stephanie Humphrey.


We live in a generation where we can’t speak without abbreviation. All this wrong we have we can fix but this time we can’t use auto correct.
— from "Better Technology, Horrible Connection" by Brandon Dejesus
Better Technology Album (2).png

If you’re reading this, chances are social media was not a huge part of your high school experience.

That may be a gross generalization, but let’s go with it.

Imagine folding a digital reality into the already fraught social dynamics of middle school and high school.

“Do you like me, check ‘yes’ or ‘no’” written on a piece of paper passed across the classroom under the watchful eye of a teacher has nothing on “likes” on Instagram and “streaks” on Snapchat. Yes, streaks.

“It’s basically Snapchatting a person every day,” a student at the Academy of Palumbo told us. “It’s like a little fire thing that pops up and it shows how long you guys have been doing that.”

Her longest streak? 300 days.

Of course not every social media interaction, including streaks, is romantic in nature, but again, let’s go with it. Imagine one day, suddenly, your crush doesn’t Snapchat you. Out of nowhere, your streak is gone, and the relationship is thrown into unfamiliar territory: digital silence.

But is that really all that different from what teenagers having been doing since the beginning of time?

Tech-life expert Stephanie Humphrey thinks not: “I think the overarching thing that parents and adults need to understand is that nothing has really changed about the way that kids interact with each other on a fundamental level. They just have better tools than we did back in the day if you will.”

the conversation

Tech-Life Expert Stephanie Humphrey merges her passion for lifestyle media with in-depth tech expertise to show everyday people how empowering, enriching and fun technology can be. Stephanie is driven by the sole purpose of connecting people, particularly those underrepresented in technology, with the tech know-how to transform their worlds. Stephanie is proud to say that she has realized her dream of becoming a nationally syndicated media personality as the current technology contributor to ‘The Harry Show’, hosted by Harry Connick, Jr, as well as a frequent guest on NewsOne with Roland Martin on TV One. Stephanie has also contributed her tech-life expertise to national media outlets including Al-Jazeera America, HuffPostLive, TheGrio.com, and BlackEnterprise.com. She is an on-air tech contributor to Fox 29’s “Good Day Philadelphia” (WTXF) where she delivers tech news. Stephanie was also the technology writer for EBONY.com and a contributor to EBONY magazine, where she provided readers with the latest in apps, gadgets, and social media. She was the originator of the popular “Tech2Go” column on TheRoot.com, and was most recently the spokesperson for HP, Inc. on the QVC shopping channel. And Stephanie uses social media to help hundreds of people understand tech basics with her weekly 60-Second Tech Break on Instagram & Twitter. Clips of some of Stephanie’s work can be viewed on her YouTube channel.    Helping students is the passion that drives Stephanie, and she has channeled this motivation into a seminar called ‘Til Death Do You Tweet’. The seminar, tailored to either students or parents, helps them understand the potential negative consequences of online behavior - especially through social media - and gives helpful advice on how young people can maintain a positive reputation in cyberspace. Stephanie is inspired by an innate curiosity to know why things work and an entrepreneurial spirit, which was the spark that started her on her present journey into tech-life media. Her expertise is built upon nearly a decade as a Senior Systems Engineer at Lockheed Martin and engineering degrees from Florida A&M University and the University of Pennsylvania.

Tech-Life Expert Stephanie Humphrey merges her passion for lifestyle media with in-depth tech expertise to show everyday people how empowering, enriching and fun technology can be. Stephanie is driven by the sole purpose of connecting people, particularly those underrepresented in technology, with the tech know-how to transform their worlds.

Stephanie is proud to say that she has realized her dream of becoming a nationally syndicated media personality as the current technology contributor to ‘The Harry Show’, hosted by Harry Connick, Jr, as well as a frequent guest on NewsOne with Roland Martin on TV One. Stephanie has also contributed her tech-life expertise to national media outlets including Al-Jazeera America, HuffPostLive, TheGrio.com, and BlackEnterprise.com. She is an on-air tech contributor to Fox 29’s “Good Day Philadelphia” (WTXF) where she delivers tech news. Stephanie was also the technology writer for EBONY.com and a contributor to EBONY magazine, where she provided readers with the latest in apps, gadgets, and social media. She was the originator of the popular “Tech2Go” column on TheRoot.com, and was most recently the spokesperson for HP, Inc. on the QVC shopping channel. And Stephanie uses social media to help hundreds of people understand tech basics with her weekly 60-Second Tech Break on Instagram & Twitter. Clips of some of Stephanie’s work can be viewed on her YouTube channel.   

Helping students is the passion that drives Stephanie, and she has channeled this motivation into a seminar called ‘Til Death Do You Tweet’. The seminar, tailored to either students or parents, helps them understand the potential negative consequences of online behavior - especially through social media - and gives helpful advice on how young people can maintain a positive reputation in cyberspace.

Stephanie is inspired by an innate curiosity to know why things work and an entrepreneurial spirit, which was the spark that started her on her present journey into tech-life media. Her expertise is built upon nearly a decade as a Senior Systems Engineer at Lockheed Martin and engineering degrees from Florida A&M University and the University of Pennsylvania.

further reading & resources

For tons of resources for parents, guardians, and educators about all things media and technology, check out Common Sense Media.

Watch the trailer for the documentary Screenagers and check out the resources and screening information on their website.

Read this article from NYMag's The Cut about how social media can taint adult friendships.

Consider the sometimes eerie ways social media and technology are beginning to blur the line between reality and fiction in this article from The Atlantic.

Click here to learn more about Philadelphia Young Playwrights.


commentary

We should always remember to focus on what’s important in the real world and not what’s important on our phone!
— Trinity Williams

Read rising high school senior Trinity Williams' take on Episode Eight here.


"Better Technology, Horrible Connection" is performed by Adbul Sesay under the direction of Christina May for the 2017 Young Voices Monologue Festival.

Mouthful will be featured as part of the Fifth Annual Philadelphia Podcast Festival this summer! Mark your calendars for Sunday, July 23rd at 6 pm when we will be having a live show at the Kitchen Table Gallery in Kensington.