Voracious Appetite for Tech : Negative Effects of Technology on Society

Wingeyes Random Thoughts on

Technology

I remember as a child running into the rain without complete and utter abandon.  There was no worry about whether I would get wet, or that if I did get wet my shirt would be completely see through. I ran in the rain because it felt good on my skin , there was something completely liberating in the sensation.

Of course today I rarely indulge in these childhood pursuits.  The world has changed, and small and little pleasures like riding your bike in the morning sun and getting wet in the rain doesn’t seem like it would hold  a candle to Facebook, gaming and television.

It’s hard to think back to those simple days when a board game was enough for entertained, where people had conversations with your neighbors and where imagination was enough. A couple of years back, I was a counselor for a tech camp in the United States. The kids literally went from monitor to monitor : From the computer screen, to the playstation, to another online game to their cell phone. There was very little time where they were not plugged in to some electronic device. I looked around and saw that their faces were pasty, their tone was irritable and if you talked to them and they lacked an ability to interact with the other kids at their camp. I wonder how many kids today are so distracted by countless gadgets that it has a lasting effect on their psyche.

Technology is coming to us at an alarming rate. What’s worse, we seem to think we have no control over it.  We just naturally give into an avid and voracious thirst of the masses to get the Next Best Thing.

I always chuckle at the need kids now have to talk on chat/ cell phones/Facebook to people who are literally in the next room. It seems that in doing this we are losing our ability to interact with one another and to live completely in the moment.

How many times have we gone on a trip, outing or what not and spent an insane amount of time ” posing” for the perfect travel pic? It’s almost as if the event itself is not important but what others think of it that is relevant.

We live in extraordinary times where so many new technological advances happen within a blink of the eye. There is a need to stop and carefully study how a new technology will significantly effect our lives before we readily embrace it. Even a simple technology can cause an entire cultural paradigm shift and completely transform how we lead our lives.  The rate by which we have new technology goes so fast, and we are so afraid of getting behind that we gobble it up with such a black hole intensity. This massive appetite for technology decreases our ability to truly understand the complex way it has changed us.

Furthermore, our voracious appetite for the Next Best Thing is also affecting the environment around us. The Supply and Demand is so excessive and the rate by which we discard this technology is unfathomable. You probably are pretty familiar with the following video post :

The Story of Stuff

There are other complex things to consider as well. A lot of technology was created in the ” first world” and operate exclusively for ” first world ” clients. However, developing countries  can consume the same amount as those first world clients…. and this can completely upset a very delicate balance within a cultural community.  Facebook itself is based on the American concept of privacy, which is completely different from even the Spanish concept of privacy.  In the book ” The Facebook Effect” one chapter explores how cultures have changed automatically by embracing Facebook.  Is this a good or a bad thing? I have no idea but it is something we don’t really seek to examine.

Furthermore, technology  is something we decide to consume mainly based on the assumption that we ” need ” it. Steve Jobs said it best, we let people know of a need that they thought they didn’t have before.  This technology is a status symbol, which gives us the Cool Factor but really it’s part of a very well crafted advertising campaign.


the power of advertising

What happens then is this voracious appetite for consumption also causes a huge breach between those who Have It and those who Don’t. The problem with this mentality is that it never is enough. By the time you buy the new iPad there is a new one coming out. That somehow, this is the solution to all our problems. Furthermore, this creates such a dichotomy that it results in violent behavior when you cannot have it such as the London Riots.

Consumerism


The way the current technology model works is the faster we have technology, the more effective it is. We value time above all else. This also interferes with how quickly we digest information in technology. Because we are inherently taught that we have to be First in sharing the Next Best Thing, we tend to not stop to think what and how this might affect us.

Kony 2012 is an exmaple of this. People automatically shared this video based on two notions : 1) that it tugged your heart strings and you wanted to share it and 2) If you waited too long someone might jump the gun and post it before you. Furthermore, through facebook our very friends have a significant effect on what we digest as truth and reality. It was only AFTER we shared the video that we stopped to think if the information was a good thing or not. There is a degree of a lack of accountability in how we use technology, as if somehow no one is truly responsible for it’s outcome.

Getting the latest technological advances is not necessarily a negative thing and it’s painful and tedious to think that somehow we need to examine how technology affects us. One thing is for sure : Once something is invented, we can’t go back to what was before. ( I will examine the shift in how education has changed with new technology in another post…) We should embrace technology, but we also should not let it dominate our lives.

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