Site icon Manish Bhattarai

The Flip Side of Technology

Technology Addiction

Hundred years ago, the vast majority of people worked on farms. Rapid changes in technology ultimately led to massive changes in society. Now, here we are; travelling to Moon and planning on travelling to Mars. We have seen so much advancements in technology and it has helped us in every way possible. The inventions of the Silicon Valley is now defining our present and the future. I am thankful that I am part of this generation but have we really progressed along with the technology. Technology advanced but did we? Have we ever thought of the other side of the technology? In short, digital and mobile technologies give — but they also take away. Well ! I did a research and compiled these resources explaining us the flip-side of the technology.

When was the last time you calculated something without a calculator? You can download a calculator for your phone that specializes in just about anything — from calculating a tip to splitting a check. Basically, you never have to use your brain to calculate anything if you don’t want to. Technology usually makes our lives easier. It also makes it so we don’t have to practice a few basic skills. After years of smartphone use, many of us can’t even remember a phone number. Smartphones have made it so we always have entertainment in our pockets. Instead of looking up and casually talking to the person next to you, you can just play a game on your phone, check Twitter, or clean up your email.

A wealth of information creates a poverty of attention. — Herbert Simon

It’s easy to cry wolf and lament for a time that used to be. People argue that before technology ruled our lives, we were happier, smarter, and better at general living. That Utopian vision of the past is a bit too rose tinted, but the point remains that we’ve lost some basic human skills over the years.
We used to talk to strangers out of necessity, but nowadays it’s easy to ignore just about anyone out in the world. We even neglect talking to a cashier by going through automated check-stands. Surprisingly though, talking to strangers has all kinds of benefits. Getting to know your neighbors can positively affect your health, improve your mood on a commute, and expand your worldview. On the Internet, people create imaginary identities in virtual worlds and spend hours playing out parallel lives. Children bond with artificial pets that ask for their care and affection.

Well, if a child plays with a Raggedy Ann or a Barbie doll or a toy soldier, the child can use the doll to work through whatever is on his or her mind. Some days, the child might need the toy soldier to fight a battle; other days, the child might need the doll to sit quietly and serve as a confidante. Some days, Barbie gets to attend a tea party; other days, she needs to be punished. But even the relatively simple artificial creatures of today, such as Hasbro’s My Real Baby or Sony’s dog robot AIBO, give the appearance of having minds of their own, agendas of their own. You might say that they seem to have their own lives, psychologies, and needs. Indeed, for this reason, some children tire easily of the robots — they simply are not flexible enough to accommodate childhood fantasies. These children prefer to play with hand puppets and will choose simple robots over complicated ones.

In a widely cited study, cognitive scientist Gloria Mark and her colleagues state that people compensate for interruptions by working faster, but this comes at a two-fold price:
The individual experiences more stress, frustration, and time pressure and effort.Concurrently, the organization often experiences not only decreased employee performance, but also, as elaborated in the next section, less optimal business decisions due to the lack of adequate time to sufficiently weigh pros and cons and consider and evaluate viable alternatives.

These are the major drawbacks of the excessive use of technology.

Poor sleep: Addiction to technology and the always-on work culture are contributing to a societal dearth of sleep. The wakefulness that accompanies engaging in work means we’re less tired during the day, while exposure to blue screen light emitted by mobile devices simultaneously reduces the melatonin required for good sleep. This self-reinforcing loop makes the seven- to nine-hour sleep cycle, considered necessary to avoid a catalogue of negative health outcomes, more difficult to maintain.

Physical disconnection: Technology is having an even more profound negative effect on social well-being. While it can enable us to engage in relationships across distances and time zones, this sometimes comes at the expense of good old-fashioned face-to-face relationships. With devices always demanding our attention, family and friends are often neglected — altering our entire social structure. And our connection to social media too can become strong enough to mimic the rewarding sensation caused by cocaine.

Anxiety and depression: Information overload is not only distracting, but potentially mentally damaging. We live with a finite amount of time and a limitless well of information and choices, often resulting in a phenomenon called FOMO — fear of missing out. With phones and computers constantly alerting us of all the opportunities available, becoming double-booked is not infrequent and can lead to anxiety when the user needs to skip one meeting in favor of another. Viewing others’ social profiles can also affect our mood. We see sites filled with users only emphasizing the positives, showcasing glamorous vacation and social photos, or news of promotions and other triumphs. Perhaps it’s no wonder we can begin to question whether our lives pale by comparison.

An anonymous director of one of the world’s foremost digital rights organization said, “I’m concerned that the pace of technology creation is faster than the pace of our understanding, or our development of critical thinking. Consider, for a moment, the latest buzzword: blockchain. Yesterday, I heard about a blockchain app designed for consent in sexual interactions — designed, of course, by men in Silicon Valley. If it sounds ridiculous, that’s because it is. We’ve reached a phase in which men (always men) believe that technology can solve all of our social problems. Nevermind the fact that a blockchain is a permanent ledger (and thus incontestable, even though sexual abuse can occur after consent is given) or that blockchain applications aren’t designed for privacy (imagine the outing of a sexual partner that could occur in this instance). This is merely one example, but I worry that we’re headed toward a world in which techno-solutionism reigns, ‘value’ has lost all its meaning, and we’re no longer taught critical-thinking skills.”

So, are we stuck now? Are we bound by the technology? Is there a way out?We need to spend time figuring out how society needs to evolve — in as non-disruptive and human-focused way as possible to accommodate new technologies.

Here’s a simple digital detox you can follow :

Monday: Unsubscribe from all unwanted emails; unfollow anyone you don’t know on social media. If you are feeling really ambitious, put your phone on grayscale to reduce its distracting attractiveness.

Tuesday: Move any mobile apps that you have not used in the past month into a folder to cut down clutter; turn off push notifications on social media.

Wednesday: Charge your device outside of your bedroom. Buy an alarm clock to replace your phone clock.

Thursday: Don’t look at your phone until you arrive at work. When you sit down for dinner, shut off your phone.

Friday: Eat all your meals in a room without a TV, phone, or computer for the day.

Saturday: Stay off social media for the entire day.

Sunday: Turn your phone off for eight consecutive hours (while you’re awake!). Take your smartwatch off your wrist.

Lets enjoy the technology without letting it overcome us ! Happy Reading !


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