Technology and Its Impact on Society

The first world’s shift towards interacting more and more with devices rather than people has had some awful consequences which we must now learn to curb. Young children are spending hours on their tablets instead of being occupied by a parent or peer. A device is something one has complete control over, if something disturbs you, you can close the window, app, or turn the device off. You can find graphic sexual content and violent content abundantly and fantasize about sex and violence to your heart’s content. This control over, objectification of, and trivialization of, the most intimate and horrible acts a person can commit has somehow failed to translate into increased sexual and violent crime rates in the United States over the last two decades, however the media’s bias towards such stories has not made this seem the case to the average citizen. Fortunately, despite technology’s negative influences, the world is not going to hell. This isn’t to say that the full impact of consumer technology has been realized yet–and there are some crucial differences in the ways people interact with devices as opposed to the ways they interact with other people.

A device cannot judge you, laugh at you, call you names–but it can be a vehicle to show you other people doing so. The layer of protection, whether distance or anonymity brings out the worst in people. People behave badly online with little or no repercussions most of the time. If someone said something about you in person, you could confront them and preserve your self-esteem. Doing so online becomes a strange proxy battle so removed from reality that both sides will make outrageous threats and statements that escalate the situation beyond its original import. It is how we interact with other people that is most important, but how we use technology throughout our lives influences this. Who hasn’t went on social media to see a friend or acquaintance posting about doing something enjoyable and instead of feeling glad for them, felt envious or disappointed with how they spent their own afternoon? Technology has the power to influence how human beings interact with each other, partially because spending so much time engrossed in technology, especially as children, keeps us from learning how to handle certain types of interpersonal interactions. Some have theorized this is why there is such a focus on bullying in the education system and that this technology has coincided with the 2010s phenomena of political correctness and people very easily offended–“snowflakes.” Now are these phenomena also perhaps indicative of an enhanced understanding of and compassion for the plights of others? Are they as author Tony Robbins asserted more a result of an inclination towards “victimhood?” Clearly it required a combination of these reasons for the phenomena to arise. But then is technology only a potentially hazardous influence? Or might it actually be able to improve interactions between people in certain cases?

Of course technology connects us with others over long distances, but are these relationships significant or merely hollow shadows of what they would be if the people were able to interact face-to-face? Things such as Skype and FaceTime allow the next best thing to this sort of interaction which have no doubt helped, for example, military people stay connected to loved ones at home. But are these really any more intimate than a telephone call–a technology which has been widely available since the early 20th century? The argument could be made that they are since they allow one to see another’s facial expression, but tone, volume, and cadence of voice can give one a pretty good idea of another’s expression. Technology does allow one to translate much more easily than they could before with a phrase book in hand, and this is one way it facilitates an interaction between people. Perhaps these are two instances in which technology has actually improved an interaction between people, but much more often, technology is used as a replacement for interaction as opposed to an enhancement of one.

I don’t think the evidence supports the notion that technology’s influence has been or will continue to be primarily negative in regards to human interaction, but in the scheme of things it really hasn’t been around long enough to be sure. I won’t attempt to speculate as to why violent and sexual crime rates are dropping in the United States aside from suggesting that it may be the fact that the country has the highest percentage of its population incarcerated in the world. According to the BBC, violent and sex crime rates in England and Wales rose significantly over the past year. Other first world nations may not be enjoying the same reduction in these crime rates as the U.S. is. Time will tell how technology is impacting us behaviorally and psychologically, as technology races ahead to complicate the analysis.



The first Earthrise photographed by humans

Image via Wikipedia

Spoiler: our society is flawed. I am not just talking about the society of the United States of America either, although we are just as guilty, and in some regards more so, than anyone else. “Okay,” you’re thinking, “what an ingenious observation, please do tell more,” sarcastically, and what you’re actually thinking is, “Well freakin’ DUH! But what do we do about it and where do we start, jackass?” Well, I am not sure. Right now, I am simply trying to watch. Really watch, and see what’s going on around me. Not what the sensationalist, yet censored media says is going on.

If you disagree that it’s censored, then count how many times in your life you’ve seen soldiers’ caskets on television or any other even semi-graphic images of the reality of war or poverty. I am not saying that the Romans shouldn’t have fed Christians to the lions for sport, or that the Allies shouldn’t have penalized Germany so ruthlessly after the Great War, or that scientists shouldn’t have invented the nuclear bomb, or that we all shouldn’t allow people to starve and die of diarrhea all over the globe, or that George W. Bush and like-minded conservatives destroyed the western economy, or that abortion should be illegal and pot should be in the pharmacies (perhaps I’m suffering from diarrhea of the typing fingers and constipation of the brain as borrowed (though modified) from the mind of author Christopher Paul Curtis).

What I am trying to say is this: all of our problems are caused by pride, greed, wrath, sloth, lust, gluttony, and envy, which are results of frustration, terror, bewilderment, dishonesty, and ingratitude. This will be the work of our human race to eliminate these defects as much as possible. First, let us do away with the concept of currency. It breeds only inequity, dissatisfaction, and selfishness. Aristotle and the Western philosophers will tell you that money is an instrumental good, that it, drugs, and weapons are desired solely for the sake of gaining something else, and therefore, will never make a person happy. This is as opposed to intrinsic goods, which are desired in their own right, such as the arts, anonymous altruism, and personal character building.

Man has also been prideful, assuming that God intended us to numerically and physically dominate the Earth, and that we will naturally solve all of our self-imposed crises. The problems are; we don’t dominate the Earth in either respect and that we are ruining it for everyone and everything else with flagrant disregard. Why do we have agriculture? So we don’t need to follow herds of animals and harvest fruit and nuts for the winters? Perhaps that was the idea at first, a sort of safety-net against starvation. But how many people on the planet are hungry right now? Hundreds of millions? Is it safe to say billions? Yet how many are obese, dying of heart disease, and eating pounds of food each day? So, remind me, again, what has agriculture done for us? Allowed us to expand our populations and become more resilient and stronger through numbers you say. Maybe, but at what cost? When will people realize that running out of petroleum is the least of our problems? That clean water, yes H2O is already a commodity. Our current population growth rate is rapid, more and more babies are born into being pushed to the sides while a few live like kings that hit the lottery? We are the living dead.

However, there is hope. We are a miracle, God’s greatest miracle. And what is resurrection to a miracle (Og Mandino)? The people possess the faculties and will to reverse the gears of change. And it starts with individuals. If all us butterflies flap our wings together, we will be astonished at what we can overcome. It has happened in the past, and it will happen again. We have seen dark nights and bright days. We have swum upstream, and made it back to the mountain valleys from whence the river was born. Martin Luther King Jr. had a dream, Woodrow Wilson had an idea, Gandhi had a cause, East and West Germany had a wall to demolish, Magellan and Elcano had a world to explore, John F. Kennedy had a challenge. Revolution begins in the mind, and continues with communication and action. Know that action precedes motivation and not the other way around. Open your eyes and your mind. Assalam-alaikum, hermanos y hermanas.