I love technology. I love my computer, broadband connection, mp3 player, Bose speakers, HDTV, HD camcorder, and all other tech gadgets that are available in the numerous electronics store circulars that overflow my mailbox. Technology helps me communicate, get more done in less time and re-experience life with the push of a button.
Advances in medical treatments, entertainment, communication, and even warfare are reported daily as we develop better, faster, more impressive technologies to replace the old. We continually push to achieve the next breakthrough in hopes of satisfying our ravenous, tech hungry society.
What we don’t see, or choose to ignore, is the hidden truth that lies under the shiny silicon surface.
Under the microscope, technology’s impact on society isn’t as positive as you might think. I believe that technology doesn’t improve our lives, but instead will negatively effect our social interactions, minds, and overall advancement as a society.
Bringing Us Together… by Pushing Us Apart
The summer before my sixth grade year of school, my parents moved back to my home state of Pennsylvania. My stepfather, whose company had promoted him to a management position in Georgia 3 years before, promoted him again.
Though I was moving back home where my biological father lived, along with the rest of my family, it was still hard leaving my friends behind. Especially my 2 best friends; Adam Rotter and Chad Ownby (let’s hope they do vanity searches on Google). This was a time before the Internet, email, and Vonage. Long distance was expensive, so keeping in touch by phone wasn’t an option, which left only one solution; snail mail.
We exchanged information, promised to write, and I left. We never wrote and now anyone I knew from my time there is just a memory. Had today’s technology been there then, our fate might have been different.
It is stories like these that blind us and make us think technology is a good thing. They make us believe that it can keep us together and allow relationships to exist regardless of distance. Don’t be fooled.
If a relationship is worth having, you will find a way for it to happen. If I truly wanted to know how my friends in Georgia were doing, I would have wrote, I would have found a way to call, and I would have even looked for ways to visit.
Technology has allowed us to be more casual in our interactions. No longer do you have to meet someone in person to have a conversation. You don’t need to look or even talk to them. You just have to type a few letters on your keyboard or cell phone and press “Send”.
What’s the problem?
We, like many mammals, are social creatures. Though some are loners, we all need an amount of physical contact and the presence of others like us to satisfy our needs. Technology has provided a medium for us to separate and sterilize ourselves from each other. It cheapens our interactions and effectively increases their quantity, but severely lessens their quality.
Ultimately, this slowly disconnects us from each other, turning humans into screenames where soon we’ll be a society of isolated individuals with a synthetic connection to everyone in the world.
Removing Us from Sanity
During my sophomore year of high school, I was assigned a research paper in biology class. The teacher, Mrs. Barnett, handed out a list of topics for us to choose from and I selected, “The Advantages and Disadvantages of Zoos.” The goal was to research our topic and formulate an argument for, or against it.
During my research, I found a number of stories about zoo animals being mistreated. How these majestic animals, once free, were captured, separated from their families, and forced into substandard living conditions to satisfy our curiosity for exotic life.
Though appalling, this wasn’t my most interesting discovery. It came from a story about a polar bear in New York’s Central Park named “Gus” (and no, he is not indigenous to the area).
Everyday, Gus would jump into the water on one side of his habitat and swim to the opposite side. Once there, he’d return to the water and swim back to where he started.
He would do this for hours.
What made this so unusual is Gus didn’t exhibit this behavior until being at the New York facility for months. He, like many zoo animals, developed an obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). These disorders commonly arise in zoo animals because they are removed from their natural environment, where they spend most of the day hunting for food, and placed into one where they are given food.
Their entire day is replaced by a couple 15-minute feeding sessions. What are they to do with all this free time?
Now consider the human animal.
With technology helping to make life easier, we are replacing our natural behaviors with artificial substitutions. We, like Gus, no longer need to be concerned about gathering our own food. With the invention of fast food and other restaurants, we don’t even need to prepare it. Water is provided directly to our homes, we have cars to take us wherever we want quickly, and we can shop at the mall or online to find what we want in minutes.
We’ve become more concerned with streamlining our lives and need to find replacements for activities that used to consume our time. Now we make time to play video games, watch television, or find ways to make more money. With this lack of mental stimulation, our population is becoming increasely dependent on antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications. Bullied into a belief that faster is better and that if you can’t keep up, you’re left behind, has lead many of us down the same road Gus traveled.
Even with the aid of technology, you can only bend yourself so far, before you break.
Charles Darwin, famous for his theory of natural selection, believed that over the course of time creatures with traits better suited for survival, would have a stronger chance of living longer and reproducing. This, in turn, produced more creatures with these same traits.
He further added that as mutations occurred naturally, due to environmental influences, new traits would develop. If these traits were useful, the resulting mutation would remain and be passed on to future generations. If it was not, the mutation would be naturally eliminated.
For example, consider the albino mutation. Creatures that carry this mutation are easy to spot because they are not able to produce melanin, which makes them uncharacteristically pale. In the wild, these animals are intensely selected against because they are easily spotted by predators and are not attractive to potential mates. Therefore, the albino mutation is seldom passed on.
Now consider a different example. There are 13 species of finches in the Galapagos Islands. Each are closely related, but have a distinct shape to their beak. Each shape is well suited for the kind of food it prefers. In other words, over time, each different species’ characteristics changed and those whose changes made it easier to eat, lived longer to reproduce and share this favorable mutation.
Today, thanks to modern medical advances, the average life expectancy continues to increase and we are living longer. What could possibly be wrong with that? Think about how it affects the process of natural selection.
Medicine has affected natural selection’s basic principle, also known as, “Survival of the Fittest”. With technology, those with favorable and unfavorable mutations alike are able to live longer and reproduce. This pollutes the gene pool with weaker genetic material, in turn slowing evolutionary progress.
Our addiction to technology for survival has taken the natural process that has helped mankind advance, slowly come undone.
- The only way for my posts to get better is to get your opinion! So help me out, and rate this one! Thanks!
The explosive popularity of video content on the web isn’t news. Google bought YouTube and AOL recently started their vide...
Having been in the technology field for over 5 years, one thing that's always frustrated me is the lack of a solid bonus stru...
I'm amazed to see that weight loss supplements with caffeine, and now hoodia, are still gaining nationwide popularity. I sho...