The Adverse Effects of Technology on Human Life
We have reached a point in course of history where it’s almost impossible to imagine the world without smartphones, computers, and most importantly- the Internet. In fact, we are bent on merging our reality with the fabric of artificiality, so much that tremendous research is underway in the areas of virtual reality, artificial intelligence, etc.
It’s not hard to see how innovation and technological advancement is a double-edged sword. For instance, on one hand, the Internet has led to the rise of social media which has allowed the people to voice their opinions and connect with their loved ones quickly and conveniently. However, on the other hand, it has led to a slew of problems such as addiction, social skills degradation, lack of focus, and health concerns such as insomnia and restlessness.
The negative impact of technology can’t be overlooked just because it has solved problems. In fact, ignorance will only cause these problems, which are currently in the nascent stage, to snowball into powerful global epidemics. However, before action is taken, it’s important to understand what these problems are exactly, and how they are changing our lives for the worse.
Technology-born “Artificial” Relationships
The relationship between a man and a woman is one of the purest, most natural things in the world. However, increased use of mobile devices and digital form of interaction/communication is diluting it at an alarming rate.
According to a Pew Research Centre poll, 25% of cell phone owners in a relationship or marriage find their partner too distracted by their cell phone. What’s more, 10% of the participants had argued with their partners about excessive time spent on the devices.
It shouldn’t be that surprising since it is not uncommon for the people who go out on dates with their partners to slip in and out of conversations just to check their emails or social media updates. It’s annoying, but more than that it is a quintessential example of how our personal devices are taking control of our behavior and basic etiquettes.
There is a dark side of technology-based relationships too. A prime example of this is long distance relationships (LDR), which are becoming more and more common, especially due to social media. According to research, up to 75% of college students have been in an LDR at some point. However, when they reunite, one-third get separated within three months. So, what does it tell us?
The Internet has made it convenient for the people to start relationships without even meeting their partners in person. However, it’s one thing to connect with someone through direct interaction, and another thing when the communication is solely through a digital medium. The latter develops a disconnect which is only observed when an LDR couple meets for the first time. In this situation, usually, the only viable solution is a break-up, which is ironically often done via a plain text.
Physical and Mental Health Problems
Technology has the potential to damage our physical and psychological health, which is evident by a variety of studies. For instance, a recent study conducted by the University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences revealed that the more time young adults spend on social media, the more are the chances of them becoming depressed.
There are various reasons why ultimate social media indulgence can lead to a corrupted emotional intelligence. For starters, the longer a teenager spends time on social media websites such as Facebook or Instagram, more are the chances of them becoming victims of cyber-bullying. Then there are other aspects, such as artificial manifestations of the actual lives on social media which tend to elicit a strong feeling of envy and self-doubt in the observers. In fact, these days people go to lengths just to brag about their “perfect lives,” which is why now and then there is news about something falling to their death from a building in an attempt to take a “glamorous selfie.”
The psychological damage of Internet and technology is evident, but the physical damage can’t be overlooked either. We all know that “sitting has become the new smoking,” especially because the majority of today’s business is done on a desk with a computer, which is one of the many ways technology is affecting our physical health.
Humans were not meant to live sedentary lives. We were hunters and explorers right from the beginning, and that’s how we evolved. But today, few engage in different forms of physical activities, if any. It is no surprise that obesity rates worldwide have doubled in the last three decades.
There is Still Time
Greenfield, who is a renowned professor of psychology and also the director of the UCLA Children’s Digital Media Centre, was the senior author of a study on the impact of digital technology obsession. She found that the sixth graders’ ability to read emotions from nonverbal cues drastically improved in a matter of five days when they went to a camp that encouraged face-to-face interactions.
There is another study that found that college students felt more “bonded” when they talked to each other face to face, and not so much when they communicated via texts, etc. So, is it an exaggeration to say that too much involvement of technology in personal life can be damaging to one’s social life? Perhaps not.
Just like most things in life, technology is right only when indulged in moderation. It is unfortunate how obsession is slowly turning into addiction, as Internet addicts are starting to suffer from symptoms like drug users. The situation is getting out of hand- there is no doubt about that. However, there is still time. It can be difficult to shut off the constant interruptions that technology throws at us in the form of emails, social media notifications, IMs, etc. at first, but gradually and slowly it’s possible to reduce the dependence. With time, it’s feasible to strike a balance between the natural and the artificial, and create a perfect harmony that gets the job done but without at the cost of the human life.