Humanity in the throes of technology:
Technology is objectifying humanity. Our fellow humans have turned into objects because we prefer to ignore them to focus on our devices.
Thanks to technology, we have facts and truths at our finger tips. But unlike facts, relationship knowledge is like a divided highway. There’s mutual give and take in the form of emotion exchange. Processing emotions is a special skill we have as humans. But are we using it to our advantage?
Technology expects us to be show solidarity to its perpetuity by extending our availability 24/7. The tools it provides for our “productivity” are supposed to make us smarter, faster and great at multitasking.
But, are we being intentional about our use of a medium that was just thrusted into our hands without a guide on how to navigate it?
Here’s a glimpse of how our tech lives are playing out each day.
Confusing knowledge for wisdom:
Spending an insane amount of time consuming information doesn’t make us intelligent humans. Age old wisdom has given way to knowledge, and thanks to our Technology revolution, knowledge has given way to information. An overload of it, so much so that we are unable to make sense of all of it. We’re not getting a bigger picture or a holistic view of it.
Confusing scrolling for downtime:
For social media to be an effective tool or a resource of efficient communication and networking, we should be able to work it rather than passively let it work us. How many of us are able to show self control while checking feeds and timelines while using the internet? Our brains haven’t evolved at a rate of how social media apps release their newest versions every few weeks.
Sapiens by Yuval Noah Hariri suggests that our cognitive revolution happened 70,000 years ago to our hunter gatherer forefathers which changed the course of our history. Simply put, our brains have not been primed for the technological revolution.
As a result, we’re developing digital fatigue. Offline, we become moody and irritable because real life is not stimulating enough.
Confusing arm chair activism for civic engagement:
Technology has given the common man a platform for arm chair advocacy and activism. Gone are the days when movements and protests took weeks and months to organize. The means by which activists are making protests, petitions and persuasion tactics for change in mass mentality using online methods has risen to what’s being referred to as Keyboard activism. Like in traditional activism, unfortunately, most people engage in this form of activism if its easy (in this case, a click of button to spread the message), non committal and comes at no particular personal cost.
To stop seeing fake ‘copyright’ status updates which started with “I do declare the following…..”, we’re carefully hiding those updates not realizing all the time we’re wasting. We’re turning into an armchair activists by asking others to support digital equality this or net neutrality that, not fully understanding what those words mean to us. How effective all these calls of actions we are making if we’re not taking time to validate them?
Confusing busyness for productivity:
Busy Distraction: Teach yourself and your children that being busy doesn’t equate productivity. Learn how to use technology the right way and the most efficient way. Realize that you and your children might be under performing because your precious resources like time, attention, money are being spent online and away from your primary goals in life.
Email Tyranny: There’s no doubt email is a necessity in the modern world. Planning events, coordinating family gatherings, sending a quick note to a loved one who lives far away – the advantages are endless. However, we often forget that no one is tying our productivity to the number of seconds it took us to respond to an “urgent” email.
Confusing stimuli for entertainment:
Man’s stupidity and mother nature’s fury is everything that makes up for breaking news. Fake news has influenced Presidential elections and celebrity fashion has changed our ideas about comfort clothing. One look at the comment section on any major news website and you can see that everyone feels like an Anderson Cooper shelling out his opinion like it matters.
Confusing content curation for efficiency:
We see others’ lives as high light reels on our social network walls and imbibe the glamour of it all through our glass screens. We come out of the experience with a sense of self that is skewed. As a result, we live our lives in content curation mode. We’re always making up our faces and our stories.
Instead of eating, we post pictures. Instead of reading, we watch without blinking. Instead of living, we pose and post. Even while shitting, we scroll through feeds of celebrities of their drug use and diets.
Confusing content for creativity:
Creative Choke-hold: When we’re in Big Tech’s company, there’s very little space for private thought. We stop experiencing ourselves in the present moment because we don’t pause to acknowledge our passing thoughts. As a result, we don’t connect the dots of information to create output, because we’re too busy consuming input. Our over stimulated brains on technology stimuli are killing creative reproduction.
As we post content, we all use the same filters, pose with the same pouts and share the same fake news from the same source which is sitting on the other side of the world. We don’t care to leave our own digital footprint and we all become monochromatic.
Earlier, it was our handwriting that made us unique and our personality three dimensional in the real world, but thanks to Big Tech, we’re all becoming like each other. We are replacing a vibrant diverse landscape of individual creativity and personality with monotonous repetitive algorithmic architecture.
Confusing addiction for distraction:
Counter Productivity: Technology was supposed to be a super cool addition to make our hectic lives as efficient as possible. Instead, it has turned out to be the main stay of our lives, while we try to work on our big goals in the margins. We are fighting daily matches of distractions to eek out a few minutes here and there between our social media and Internet consumption to work on our serious personal and professional goals.
Tools of the Trade: Everyday we hear about apps that have the potential to change our efficiency, our productivity and thus, our lives. But the potential of all these apps, devices and technology is not just unilateral. These tools are efficient in the hands of people who know the intention and the value what they want out of technology. In the end, it should serve as an enabler, not make us humans a product of its distraction.
Confusing digital cheers for connection:
Digital Cheers: We are living in times when technology has become a means for self expression. We are measuring our social currency in the number of likes and hearts our Instagram or Twitter posts receive. We are becoming masters of content generation and distribution, and our content curation skills are also on the rise. Cue, how many filters and retakes does that one perfect selfie get?
Superficial Social Capital: Likes, comments, shares – This is the Attention Economy that we live in. Consequently, we are victims of the reinforcement paradigm. We are taking down pictures if they don’t get enough likes. Middle school kids post mostly after 5pm on Instagram, so they can get the most activity on their posts.
Are we becoming a generation of tech junkies giving props via likes and hearts to others’ artfully curated and crafted social media posts?
Confusing control for intention:
Who’s in control: We own our phones, after all, we picked its color and we choose whether to respond to calls and texts. Its our choice, whether we allow ourselves the luxury of browsing the internet or let notifications pile up until we can get to them.
But are we really strategic and intentional with our use of time and technology?
For example, the ease and accessibility of a smart phone devices lets us steal moments and “save time” by cleaning up our inbox for the 5 minutes we’re waiting in line for coffee or the next subway train to arrive. But, how many of us really feel productive and efficient after doing that inbox cleanup which doesn’t really matter in the big scheme of things and our long term goals?
Confusing connectivity for deep communication:
Brains on Tech: The brain is a social organ and it thrives on connection with others. And because social networks readily offer this promise, their lure is undeniable. But, imagine maintaining a social circle of 400 friends in real life. Are we really adding to or replacing relationships using technology as a medium?
Tech and Relationships: Relationships thrive online only when they are anchored in real life. Not the other way around. We are available constantly to our loved ones although we’re always communicating with them in isolation.
Conflict Resolution: There are social skills like empathy and conflict resolutions that are only learnt through physically interacting with others. Touch and sensory exchange is necessary for emotional and social development.
Nature of Communication: Our communication is becoming more and more linear. We equip ourselves with smileys and emojis and are more creative with our messages than ever before. But our messages have no tone, none of our intended emotion and our intended non verbal cues.
As a result of only exchanging verbal communication, our emotions are not perceived and processed correctly by the receiver. While we continue to communicate this way, we only engage our right brain which is logical and literal. We leave emotion behind, because our brains don’t see the need to read non verbal cues in a text message or a Facebook message.
Technology can make us faster, smarter, and accurate. Technology can make us diligent by making us work with more efficiency when we write code because its not subject to mood swings or “I don’t feel like doing it” episodes. With the latest breakthroughs in science, we can live longer lives that are mostly pain-free.
But will it make us: Empathetic, lovable, intuitive, creative and giving? Moreover will it help save our deteriorating attention spans?
Eye contact literally builds trust and without face to face conversations, finding common ground, building rapport and build social networks in real life is impossible. Technology is empowering but is it teaching us empathy?
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