It seems like we as humans are perpetually looking forward, whether it be the advent of mechanics, medicine, auto-mobiles or flying there’s always something around the corner. This is probably a really good thing and what we owe much of our success as a species to, but I believe that as of late while we’ve been looking forward to immense technological innovations like driverless cars, space exploration/ transport, even more powerful smart devices, smart houses and more we’ve forgotten to stop and smell the roses. The roses although pretty and cool may have some hidden thorns which we haven’t fully come to terms with. In this analogy roses are the internet/ personal devices/ the interconnectedness of the modern world and the thorns are how these technologies do and will effect our society in deep and complex ways.
I’m definitely not the first person to say ‘hey, maybe social media etc. are messing us up a bit?’, that’s a significant portion of a Communications and Media degree. And there are of course a bunch of great academics and smart people who have written countless articles attempting to detail these effects both present and in the future. A good smart person along these lines is Sherry Turkle who said in reference to this whole idea…
“We used to look to machines for physical help. Now we feel we are missing things on an emotional and spiritual dimension and we look to the machine world”
(Svensson, Goldberg, 2015)
Technology seems to be becoming more and more integrated with our lives. Although it won’t happen maybe we should be looking around studying the effects before we run down this path into the unknown. These effects, being so complex and confusing are obviously hard to identify, study and quantify although there are some existing studies that have found evidence of our technologies negatively affecting our society. One study in particular found a link between compulsive internet use and ‘less comfort and fewer skills in interpersonal settings’ (Caplan, 2005).
As we seem to race forward to all these awesome new technologies, we will be faced with new challenges both technological and social which we will have to deal with at some point. The technological problems are a lot easier to identify and solve while the social problems will likely fester until we can’t look away. In the meantime driverless cars and personalised robots sound sweet. Also there should be more female tech entrepreneurs.
(Source: Boing Boing)
Caplan, S. (2005) A Social Skill Account of Problematic Internet Use, Journal of Communication
Goldberg, Svensson, (2015). Between Humanities and the Digital, MIT Press, https://goo.gl/BPRspe