New age of technology prompts isolation
February 24, 2017
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We are in the age of technology. Connections across the world are stronger than ever and according to the PEW research center, in 2016, two-thirds of the world’s population uses the internet. We as humans have always been and always will be continuing to adapt and evolve technology to make connections even easier. But amidst all the rapidly evolving smartphones and thin TV screens, we too have been changing – and perhaps these changes may not exactly be positive ones. Have our screens given only the illusion of human contact? Has technology made us more isolated than before?
Perhaps your first reaction would be one of disbelief. It doesn’t make much sense that being able to Skype someone on the other side of the world would do any harm.
However, technology is starting to expand its dominion. In 1876, the first telephone was invented solely for the purpose of communication. However, now, in 2017, the invention of the smartphone has reshaped, redesigned, and remodeled itself to be a companion of some sorts. Wherever you go, it comes along with you. Cell Phones, whether tucked in a bag or clutched in a vice-like grip in millions of hands, are everywhere. These days, most people wouldn’t even consider leaving their home without their cellular device.
But it doesn’t just have to be a phone. Your computer, tablet, iPad, etc – those are all devices that can consume your life.
Technology has allowed us to escape our reality and in the process of doing so, we lose connection with those we love. Technology has taken over our homes, our schools, and our lives. As technology becomes more prevalent in our society, it becomes increasingly easier to slip away when life becomes too tough to handle.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology social psychologist Sherry Turkle, Ph.D., says that while it is undoubtedly true that technology has made the world connect, it has also made many people “more lonely and distant from one another in their unplugged lives”. Without a smartphone in tucked securely pocket or your laptop in close proximity, many may feel abnormally anxious. People can experience separation anxiety which can cause detrimental effects for the rest of their lives. This may lead you to wonder whether technology will eventually become a “basic need” and be put in the same category as food and water. People nowadays are so used to having their fingers glide over the small keyboard of a tablet that they don’t know how to cope without it. It has become increasingly easier to become lost in the world of the Internet along with all of its wonders and forget about reality. It may not be so outrageous to put technology in the same group as alcohol and drugs, for just as there are recovery centers for those whose lives have been turned upside down by heroin, there are also rehabilitation treatment places for those who are so addicted to technology that they have become incapable of living without it.
But why is a metal object with some fun add-ons so appealing to us? Why do we forego all tasks at hand just to rummage through our pockets to check for new texts every few minutes?
One reason could be technology grants us the attention that we all crave. We can drown ourselves in the vast sea of the internet, for there are infinite things to do online. Real life is limited, and some achievements always seem to be just out of your reach. When you go online, however, it is a whole different story. The possibilities become limitless, allowing you assume the persona you’ve always desired. Perhaps this is the reason why some like to assume false identities online. The act of pretending to be someone else online, dubbed “catfishing”, can allow someone to be a person they could never be in real life. Technology is now also used as a sort of portal that can allow us to transform into the ideal human being, but in the process, we find the physical world less and less appealing. Why return to a world where you may have to make difficult choices when you are already seated comfortably in a world where everything works for you?
Perhaps we are attracted to the idea of being able to wipe the slate clean and create a new face online. Whatever the reason, it is clear that once a person steps crossed the line between what is virtual and what is not, it’s hard to go back.
This, in turn, makes us more isolated, and unwilling to interact with others in the real world. However, this isolation doesn’t have to be our only way to deal with technology. It’s possible to break free of technology’s ever present grip on our lives. As paradoxical as it may sound, all of this is possible. The key to using technology the right way is to remain in control over how much time you spend and what you do online. Set goals for yourself – goals that can only be achieved by interacting with the real world. Be aware of yourself and limit time spent online each day. This may be hard to do, but it will become easier as it becomes second nature – to a point where it will soon be an unbreakable habit.