Is Technology Tearing us Apart?
Technology Under Attack
It’s common practice today to criticize technology for having multiple harmful effects on society, but is this a fair accusation? Is technology tearing us apart? Or could it be helping us to pull together?
I did a little research. GOOGLE produced 191 million articles about “teenagers and technology”, 25.4 million articles outlining the reasons “technology is causing more harm than good” and, more specifically, 217 thousand articles sharing why “smartphones are ruining our lives”. I don’t have time to read two hundred sixteen million six hundred seventeen thousand articles. However, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about what we’re missing when we are so fast to assign blame to technology for current issues in our world.
Technology is a Tool
We can’t blame the tool for how it’s used, that’s on us. To be fair, since the smartphone has only been used extensively since 2007, it reached both the teenage demographic and the adult one at the same time. There was no time for parents to first become familiar with the technology before passing this wisdom on to their children. Neither was there was time for the new-toy novelty to wear off. We all encountered this new toy simultaneously. So it’s up to all of us – at the same time – to assume responsibility for the wholesome use of this technology.
Newton’s Third Law
I agree that we are experiencing new challenges in the world today because of technology, but we can’t discount the new solutions delivered by the same technology, (some are solutions to problems which address issues that predate our current technology). Newton’s third law of motion seems to apply (for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction).
Yes, teenagers (and even non-teens) can experience an attack on their self-esteem because through social media it is too easy to peer into too many picture-perfect lives, but that effect is being counterbalanced by support, education and empathy – on social media. Body image is being brilliantly addressed in videos and advertisements; mental illness has come into the light. We’re talking about these things now. Multiple injustices have been addressed through social media. And we’re just getting started.
These issues have always existed. The technology that shines a light on them is a powerful tool that allows us to finally address them. Unlike the days when we received messages from television and movies but were not afforded the opportunity to respond, today we enjoy a two-way conversation. Everyone has a voice.
Using Technology to Build Community
The ability to build an online community with people around the world is an unprecedented opportunity available to us today. One of my most wonderful communities was built online via video chats.
If we’re missing the forest for the trees, that’s on us too.
What We’ve Been Missing
Technology has the ability to help us to draw closer than ever before. Our near-addiction to this connection-enabling technology is a symptom of our lack of connection today – and our desire for it. We can moan about this, and we do, or we can learn how to satisfy our need for community.
Technology is helping us to do just that.
Photo Credit: Mia Baker