• Tue. Jul 23rd, 2024

We are all addicted to technology. But does it matter?

ByJamie Clark

Oct 9, 2016

The sensation of feeling incomplete when you lose your mobile phone is already a recognised psychological condition.

Some private hospitals in London now have specialised units purely to deal with trauma or mental health issues relating to technology addiction.

These issues are real and are affecting a significant proportion of the UK population.

For instance, a third of people admit to checking their phone as soon as they wake up, and around ten percent of the population regularly check their phone through the night.

So, we are a nation of compulsive Tweeters, Snapchatters and Facebookers. But is that necessarily a bad thing?

In today’s world, the internet is opening up new avenues of socialisation, while simultaneously destroying traditional relationships.

Technology is like the man who saves you from the burning building while holding the match. There have been subtle but sudden changes to the order of society, and thus the way in which we communicate, after most significant advancements in technology. After the advent of television in the 50s, family time metamorphosed into watching time.

Following the rise of personal computers in the 80s and 90s, family ‘watching time’ became individual watching time, meaning I could happily type away on my new Apple 1 instead of listening to Marxists reasoning as to why Maggie Thatcher is the end of the world.

In the 2000s came the tsunami of new smartphones, and now not only could I sit isolated while using my laptop, but I could refrain from face to face conversation about how Father is cool because he drinks Starbucks.

Technology over the last 50 to 60 years has took aim at the mundane elements in our lives and wider societies, then blasted it away with such force we do not miss it anymore.

It has on the one hand removed something we need and hold dear, while subversively becoming the new thing that we need and hold dear.

The only conclusion I can come up with is so what? Human society regardless of technology was on the road to fracture and distance, which I think is a discussion for another time.

We need to view technology as a bridge between people and communities. Yes it does not look particularly good on our society that text is more prevalent than conversation, but what about those people you cannot see face to face?

Technology has removed the priority of people closest to us, while increasing the prevalence of those furthest away. It has made our world lonelier, but smaller.

This, I believe, is a crucial juncture in  human development: we can communicate with those further away, and bring their stories closer to us, so we can learn about their experiences and troubles, and ultimately use technology to help them.

Image: Oliur Rahman

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