Clatter from the bells resounds from Storke Tower, meaning it is already time for another class. The throngs of pajama-clad students fill the quad and walkways with laughter and words, but something is a little off here. All the commotion isn’t coming from the crowd having a good time; rather it is the scattered voices yelling into their cell phones causing all the clamor.

Nobody in sight is conversing with each other. The temptation to check messages or look busy talking to obviously important people on the receiving end of these calls appears to be far more interesting than human contact. I even see groups of students walking by, obviously together but each intently wrapped up in a cell phone conversation. I ponder how much their relationships can possibly be strengthened by this activity.

The social skills of the present generation are definitely lacking, and people seem to be satisfied with solitary activities and inhuman communication throughout the day.

College seems like it should be the ultimate social atmosphere. Twenty thousand people all around the same age are thrown together to figure out what life is all about. However, something went wrong in this situation. Nothing can be discovered if we refuse to step out of the all-encompassing world that is ourselves.

On the way home, I try to think of clever ways to mock the clutter of non-interactive social butterflies. Stopping by a friend’s house for some genuine bonding, I walk through the door without knocking to a house of silence. In the search for signs of life all I discover are three of my friends each on their separate computers “chatting” with other online loners, and a fourth friend writing an e-mail. I decide to keep the comments to myself.

This technology that advances the human race toward the future also suffocates our ability to build relationships and learn people skills. We are so highly developed that we have even shed the burden of actually interacting with people.

Instead of writing a letter or visiting, we send impersonal e-mails. Instead of calling, we use devoid-of-emotion instant messages. Instead of conversing at school, we check phone messages.

This is also evident when I walk into class. Sitting in relatively the same spot as always, I notice that everyone is at least two or three seats apart from each other. Most people try to look busy, fidgeting with text messages on their phones or scribbling on a Palm Pilot, searching for an excuse not to greet those nearby. People seem too caught up in their own little world, convincing themselves of a life far too busy for actual social contact.

Relationships cannot be built if we limit ourselves, and what a cold world it will be when the only friend in sight exists in the mirror.

The solution here is to turn off your computer and talk to someone new while the opportunity still exists. We seem to have given up on taking interest in other people enough to drop the phone and walk next door.

Admittedly it is difficult to meet new people, but infinitely harder is hitting it off with someone who is talking on the phone. I also have yet to build a meaningful relationship online that enhances my life like a close friend that lives nearby.

Adam Brown is a sophomore English major.