Our lives have been so reliant on technology that we fail to see its true impact. Modern technology may have opened up the world to us, but, in return, it has closed what matters the most, the ability to have social interactions. Humans are social beings; we look to society as a way for us to connect and live in harmony. However, a question remains; Is modern technology like the cell phone, and the internet, pushing us away from each other?
Everywhere you look, you will see someone with some type of cell phone.
In this century, everyone has access to the World Wide Web and has a device that makes it more convenient. Before, desktop computers which were grounded and inconvenient to carry were invented. Then portable laptop computers were introduced, but they were still a bit too heavy and inconvenient to carry. Later on, cell phones were created, but they were neither as powerful nor as capable of internet use as computers were.
After a few advancements to the regular cell phone, powerful mobile devices such as the Android were introduced. This changed everything. This new, portable technology had similar capabilities to the computer. Soon, everyone had access to a phone and quickly became attached to their little box. Having access to this, much accessible technology paved the way for the modern form of communication, like texting. Everyone, in their homes, offices, classes, and even on dates would rather text than have a conversation. (6). It’s progressed to the point that it’s considered a skill to text while talking to someone face-to-face; which is not even talking.
We’re so infatuated with texting that we do it while driving; putting not only our own lives but also the lives of other people in danger.
The need for instant gratification is more likely to lead someone to addictive tendencies or behaviors, according to BYU psychology graduate student Lee Essig. He said people have a way to cope or escape hard things in life. The coping method might be through overeating, excessive exercise, pornography, or social media. “This instant gratification we seek may initially be motivated by a desire for pleasure, but once our brain has learned where we turn for pleasure, it will begin to use the same neural pathways as a response to pain, fear, anger, sadness,” Essig said. The coping mechanisms initially used for pleasure or gratification have become a way to escape the pain or frustration in life, according to Essig. “When we’re stressed, upset, or feeling down, we’re more likely to turn to any of these behaviors to not feel those negative emotions,” Essig said. “This is what leads to compulsive or addictive behaviors. It’s not so much about gratification as it is an escape from pain.” Essig said. (2). Video games, social media, technology, and Netflix are not necessarily bad until used as a crutch to cope with emotions, stress, or difficulties in life. Social interactions feel more distant and as we get further into the future they may become a lot scarcer.
Back in my home country, I didn’t experience any form of internet that I could in the US. I grew up with no smartphones and little to no internet experience whatsoever. Coming to the US, I experienced the amazing speed and the perks of having access to so much more information, which made me realize why people are so addicted to the internet. This accessibility is equally captivating for all. Before, my options for entertainment were limited and were based on a specific timed schedule. Now, with the use of the internet, I can access anything at any time.
In this day and age, we all like to stay in our own separate bubbles. (6). In an article by the New York Times, a statement made by a student shows us how our life looks now with the influence of cell phones. The student says, “I often find myself surrounded by people staring at their phones and I am even guilty of doing it. I think if one person is staring at their phone, everyone else tends to do it, whether it be self consciously or just to avoid an awkward sitpeer-revieweduation.” (3). This shows us that even when we are together, we like to be miles apart from one another.
Technology has made us isolated even when we are surrounded by our loved ones. We end up spending less time with our families because of our own inability to look away from our screens. It feels as if, we may be together physically but, we are disconnected mentally. (6). A peer reviewed research by the Social Science computer review shows that “One individual-level variable that is particularly useful in studying the impact of these new information technologies is time, more specifically, the time that individuals devote to a new technology compared to previous technologies and other ways of spending time.” (5)
We find comfort in using our devices. I mean it’s a nice shelter within reality; we get sucked into it, and before you know it we barely have time for important materials such as homework, chores, etc. Before the Internet, you would just sit in an armchair with a book open on your lap, staring into space or staring at a decorative broom on the wall—kind of shifting back and forth between those two modes of being (Rathbone). Time is a really valuable asset and we tend to waste it the most by disconnecting ourselves from the important tasks and zoning out. While we’re physically apart from our times throughout the day from our technology and are engaged in other social activities like attending a board meeting or having lunch at school, it is not as connective. We like to shut ourselves out. We avoid physical interactions and prefer our devices instead. (6)
Overuse of technology is slowly isolating us while making us more awkward in social interactions. In some scenarios, two individuals that sit next to each other in school or work in the same building might have no idea how to talk to each other. Sometimes, I’m guilty of avoiding calls and receiving calls from distant relatives, just because I feel uneasy verbally communicatecommunicating with them. I even limit myself from texting a person too much so that they don’t expect me to always be in touch.
There’s a saying we have in the Indian Subcontinent, “A word being spoken is as same as a bullet being fired from a gun, and you can’t take either of them back.” We live in a periodupon where a saying like that is happening all the time. We always have our guard up on having just a little chat. It’s to the point where it is saddening to watch it happen.
Like the adults, our next generation, has turned a blind eye to what they could be doing without the intervention of technology. Unlike the adults, the millennials had full access to all the new technologies. To them, this is all they’ve ever known. However, many teens still go outside and play sports, like it was, before the whole internet revolution and the cell phones started. Then again, there will always be at least one person who would rather play video games in their house, rather than come out and enjoy the sport.
Research has shown that if there is someone who is so highly influenced by technology, they have brain chemistry and the development rate of the teen is the same as the brain of a substance abuser. Nowadays, as we go to work we are so afraid of either having a conversation or being involved in any form of social interaction, we cancel out all the noise with our headphones. (6). Even in libraries, people are expressing similar behavior by being connected to the computer and shutting themselves out of reach. We all love and achieve such a silence that is unbearable and can’t be broken.
Other things we also do are, restrict ourselves from knowing individual papers won’t have a tracer, and this stolen good can be edited back to its original state. We are so caught up with our technologies that a lot of people forget reality from the virtual state of technology. There is a good use forof technology in helping kids learn faster, but there is also a bad side to it. “Instead of a kid coming home and interacting with people, they hop on an electronic device, and that is a real challenge,” Johnson said. “With good media, there is also bad media, so finding the balance to let them enjoy it and grow from those things is hard.” He said there is a significant issue, not so much for the younger kids, but for teenagers. Children are picking up the phone to text or Snapchat instead of picking up the phone and speaking to someone. “That is the challenge because the real world isn’t done electronically,” Johnson said. “We have to communicate in person, so whether it is face to face with their peers or parents, kids are hindered from developing relationships because kids are used to just texting.” (2). My source show, that parents also agree that it is getting harder to communicate with their kids as time goes on.
“It was in 1995 and a friend of mine’s husband was seemingly addicted to AOL Chat Rooms spending 40, 50, and 60 h online at a time when it was still $2.95 per hour to dial into the Internet. Not only did they suffer financial burdens but their marriage ended in divorce when he met women in online chat rooms.” (7). Following is an example of the internet slowly ruining our social lives. Our use of it has gone up to such a degree that we think that little amounts of virtual interactions will make up for our high lack of social interactions. For many people, the real world is becoming a place where we prefer virtual interactions instead of face-to-face interactions.
Whenever someone is texting someone else by expressing their love for them or letting them know that they are being missed, we have to assume that they are putting some emotions behind those texts. With the use of texting we don’t hear nor do we see the other person’s face, everything that we say and do is by our wordplay, by saying that, “I’m crying,” or “Hahaha” may imply that you may have found what the other person said funny. However, in most cases the receiver probably had a blank expression as he read the text and only responded with laughter because he didn’t want his friend to feel any sort of discouragement. For all these reasons texting someone will never replace a real-life conversation. In a real conversation, we see the other person eye to eye and we talk. There is an emotional connection, nothing is too hidden, it’s just two people having a nice conversation, and making a real connection withreal-life each other. (6)
The value of a real life conversation is priceless. (6). It takes time to sprout and take form into discussions about other unrelated topics that we didn’t even start the conversation with. Meanwhile, in our virtual way of communication we have a completely different way of “conversation”. There we try to know as much information as we can about the other person in a short window. Since we are always careful to keep the interaction to a minimum we ask questions that are not necessarily something that can start a really interesting conversation but are there to have an illusion of one. The usUs of modern technology in this way for communication is sort of innovative for once when it comes to a longer distance. Sometimes you may just text a random person and end up finding things in common and become good friends, which is definitely the agenda when it comes to interactions like this. But, to prefer that all the time instead of interacting with your neighbor next door is a bit concerning.
Before the Internet, you could move to a new state and no one at school would know anything about you. You’d have no online history. You could be anyone. You would lean against the lockers with a faraway expression on your face and let people assume whatever they wanted (Rathbone). This shows us another reason why many people avoid conversations. They feel afraid to present themselves because they fear the judgments that come with it.
Nowadays, there are kids that don’tsome kids don’t socially interact as much as kids from earlier generations. A researchplaytime was about a child’s playtimewas conducted to see the effect of modern technology on changes in the kid’s play. Teachers have a lot of kids to talk about. Parents, on the contrary, only observe their own children’s play; therefore it is easier for them to notice possible changes. A third difference concerned children’s favorite games; kindergarten teachers stated that they preferred playing with building materials and further group games. They didn’t mention the PC, video games, or other commercial toys at all, which parents considered being their children’s favorite. This is possibly accounted for by the fact that such toys weren’t available at the kindergarten. In that statistic, it is seen that 97% of parents have seen changes in their child’s play. When technologies like the games devices and the pcs weren’t as widely available most kids went out and played. This helped us socialize. For you to participate in a game with the other kids you had to speak and interact with them, which built on teamwork and eventually qualities like leadership. (1)
Studies began to identify what werewas considered digitally potent online applications such as online role-playing games, online gambling, or online pornography that were more addictive than email, PowerPoints, or texting. In 2013, Internet Addiction Gaming disorder was singled out as the most potent problem categorized in the revised Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders as a condition for further study. Later that year, the first inpatient hospital program for Internet addiction recovery opened in Pennsylvania treating all forms of Internet addiction by applying concepts of digital diet and digital nutrition to find healthy ways of using technology similar to treating food addiction. (7). This shows that people slowly started to rely on more artificial things rather than real therapists. These interactions have also been established through other rresearchwhere people would prefer to talk to an AI rather than a real person for advice. Despite this being onslightly older research it doesn’t discredit the fact that it could be and it is getting worse over time. I say this because, the influence of modern technology is at its peak and it isn’t stopping anytime soon, and with that more people will have access to technology and might become dependent to it like the rest of us.
Let’s step back for a second and think about all the good things that these technologies have brought to us. There was a time when I had no idea what there was something called Marvel, and DC comics, even though I made a comic book myself. That was 2016, but, thanks to the internet, within just two months of research on that topic I became an expert. Then came the communities that followed that genre. The internet helped me make a lot of new friends, who were also heavily passionate about this. There used to be a time when people would get bullied for being a nerd. But now, through the widespread influence of the nerd culture on the internet, bigger companies picked up those interests and made it cool to be a nerd. Without the internet, it would have taken longer.
The internet wasn’t used just to build communities and make useconnections, it was also used to raise awareness. Social problems haven’t wiped out and nor can theyin happen overnight. The things we accomplished towards our society using the internet might seem small at first, but, it grows over time into a massive movement. We are more aware of our other world problems than we have ever been. We challenge society and don’t let it slip up, and yet at the same time, we let ourselves be carried away because we know that no one will harm us when we are behind a screen. So, although technology has given us a lot of opportunities to better our society, we shouldn’t limit our contribution and establish an invisible bond to it by staying home. We should try to explore our world more.
The solution to this situation might not be as hard as people might make it out to be. All we have to do is just get off of our screen, pop out of our bubble and just socialize. (6)