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Technology: For better or worse!

November 22, 2013   ·   0 Comments   ·   5,237 Total Views   ·

By Sabrina Almeida

There’s much to be said about technology and the progress it has afforded us. Convenience, connectivity, speed and efficiency being some of its most important contributions.
Rewinding to my school and university days, I remember the anxiety and pressure that surrounded every assignment. Reference books were few and there were at least twenty of us who were trying to get our hands onKids_Nov22 the same title. Worse still it involved hand written notes and then putting together the fair copy which could take days. Today almost everything is available at the press of a button on the Internet, so easily, that cases of plagiarism abound and are easy to catch at the same time.
Technology has certainly been a boon in our lives. Things however take an ugly turn when we become slaves to it. If your smart phone or computer stopped working for instance, think of all that would be at stake. It’s like our ability to function has been cruelly snatched away from us.  So reliant are we on these electronic devices.
This dependence, which is growing, has had a profound effect on our personal, social and professionals lives and above all on our health.

Social interaction is almost passé
Social interaction is perhaps the biggest casualty in this technologically-advanced world. Children prefer to sit in the comfort of their rooms and interact with friends (from all over the world I’m told) via online games rather than spend time in their physical company. “It’s too much effort”, and of course “not necessary”. Even when they do invite friends home, most often each one comes armed with one or more game controllers to hook up to the video system. There goes any chance of proper conversation or communication. As a result many are socially inept and struggle to keep up (let alone initiate) any conversation because they just don’t know how. This form of solitary confinement has also taken its toll on the dating scene and many find themselves resorting to the Internet to find companionship or a life partner. How can you meet people and develop relationships if you don’t go out or communicate?

Family relationships are going down the tubes
On the family scene too, everyone is literally left to their own devices. Togetherness has been replaced by privacy.  Sharing and consideration have been replaced by impatience and intolerance. Conversation is looked upon as interference and everyone wants to “be left alone”. Where families would initially gather together in front of the single television screen in the house, and laugh or cry together over the joys and frustrations of the day, today everyone has his/her own personal device and rarely wants to share the space let alone time or electronics with anyone else. In many families, parents, children and siblings only grunt to each other in the hallways or exchange a few words on a strictly need-to basis. The result… parents don’t know what the kids are up to and the children are left to parent themselves which has often proven to be disastrous. I’m not sure why any seven-year-old needs a smart phone or why people go into raptures because a two-year-old has figured out how to turn on the computer.

The virtual work place
The virtual work place is great for lowering operational overheads, minimizing travel and increasing productivity. But once again, the sacrificial lamb is human interaction! As more businesses gravitate towards letting their employees work from home, many individuals may end up not leaving the comfort of their homes for days on end. Imagine a scenario where you are living by yourself, communicate with friends only via texts and the social networks or gaming site and with colleague through phone conferences and emails you could end up without human contact for days on end. The world of texts and short messages encouraged by smartphones and blackberries has also taken the etiquette out of communications. Several professionals confessed to not acknowledging the recipients of their message with any kind of salutation. Also many a context is lost when viewing messages on smart devices leading to unnecessary escalations and bad blood between colleagues. Many employees are also enslaved by their devices, and feel the necessity to have it with them 24/7 including checking and responding to messages at unearthly hours just to create a good impression.

Health issues are on the rise
Obesity is on the rise, and it’s not only among children. The fact that health expects are imploring people to include just 30 minutes of physical activity in their daily schedule is a clear indication of direction in which our lives are heading. But inactivity is just one of the many health issues that technology has created. Studies indicate that using a laptop, cell phone, or iPad late at night can upset your sleep pattern and may even cause a sleep disorder. It is also responsible for higher levels of stress as being constantly wired leaves us with no time to unwind or relax. On professional level or the social scene, “the fear of missing out” has consumed our lives. Isolating yourself from others has often been linked to depression and other mental illnesses. The constant use of headphones and at high volumes has resulted in more people suffering from hearing impairments. Spending six to eight hours hunched over the computer has led to plethora of health issues including sore backs, neck, shoulder and arm problems, failing eyesight and even balance issues. Internet and cyber bullying has given us a new problem to worry about.
Technology was meant to put us in control, not the other way around. As one Henry David Thoreau said, “Lo! Men have become the tools of their tools.”  Automation was supposed to give us more time to enjoy life and each other. But as Albert Einstein remarked, “It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity.”


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