Each consecutive generation gets to experience the newest advances in technology. In the 1950s it was the television which began to be affordable for the average family. In the 1990s cell phones were beginning to be made accessible to the general public. Now in the 21st century, the iPod, iPhone, iPad, Smart Phone and texting are all available in full force. Technological advances seem as if they are only increasing at a more rapid pace every successive year. With all the upgrades and changes in the ever-present technological movement, there is cause for concern, even while celebrating the march of progress. Society has always been optimistic, excited, thrilled even, to experience the next big advance, which will make life so much easier. Though there have been great discoveries made through technology, there are always subtle repercussions that may be found to be fatal further down the road. Technology has transported us into the Age of Information, but ironically it seems as if technology yields the power to generate a lazier, divisive, impersonal, and more impatient society.
One of the definitions of work is: Purposeful effort, the physical or mental effort directed at doing or making something. Due to the world’s dependence on computers and machines humans aren’t required to do, or think, as much anymore. Children and adolescents, because of their developmental mental stages, seem to be most susceptible to accepting anything that demonstrates its ability to perform the workload. “For most schools and students, technology has become all about making work easier and faster, which includes avoiding thinking as much as possible” (Crompton, Thompson 7). Google is one of the best resources known to the 21st century, but because information is literally at the tips of our fingers, there is not as much of a need to remember any of that instant, easily accessible information. Roberta Furger states “The Internet is changing forever the way students think and learn” (74). Technology has also stunted knowledge of proper grammar, punctuation, correct spelling, and even remembering how to do simple math problems. “We rely on technical gadgets to add simple calculations and to retain listing and directories leading to memory loss” (Pistone 34). Word processors catch all your mistakes for you so there is little need to remember the proper rules of English. Some people are so immersed and used to text language that they forget that abbreviations and acronyms aren’t appropriate in certain circumstances such as school papers. The TV is yet another technological source where children and adolescents have an excuse to be lazy. Not only does excessive screen time lead to childhood obesity, but it also causes mental health problems (Weinberg, Stager 6). According to Scott M. Shannon:
If an environment is positive...the brain will respond with enhanced dendritic interconnections, cerebral blood vessels, self-regulation, cognitive depth, and emotional reserve. But...if the environment is negative, conflictual, insensitive, disengaged, abusive, or inappropriately stimulated (which includes too much screen time), the brain will hardwire patterns of aggression, dysphoria, dysregulation, and learning problems that may become a lifelong pattern. (qtd. in Weinberg, Stager 6)
After identifying some of the ways in which technology induces laziness, now to discern how technology possesses the power of making society divisive. Over the past fifteen years social networking sites have grown immensely, from Xanga, to My Space, to Facebook and Twitter. Cell phones with Wi-Fi can even access these online social networking sites at any time. There are more and more ways of contacting and socializing with everyone you know, those who are states or even countries away are at your instant access. The irony of it all is that instant access isn’t always desirable and can become burdensome. According to Martin Courtney,
A recent study by the University of Cambridge, ironically sponsored by BT [Bit Torrent], found that one in three people felt overwhelmed by communications technology, including texting, email and social networking, to the point that they felt a pressing need to escape it. (1)
Not only is there a pressure to keep up with your communication technology, but the instant access of those who are hostile towards you is inescapable. Cyber bullying has become a huge problem. Rumors spread fast enough in schools, but with the abused power of social networking rumors spread lightning quick. There have even been many professionals who have lost their jobs due to incriminating evidence divulged via Facebook. There are many other ways in which technology proves to be divisive and exclusive, such as obsessive compulsive texters. For example, there is a frequent pattern of some who feel the urgent, desperate need to be texting someone else rather than talking with a person who is right next to them. This is a very alienating practice. The use of iPods produces the same effect of disengagement and estrangement. Music used to be something that everyone could enjoy together. Now, through the use of iPods, it can become just a private diversion, shooting directly into the brain and insulating the user from those around.
Not only can technology produce laziness and divisiveness, it also has contributed to society’s impersonal nature. Overuse or “…worship of technology has separated us from our connection to our environment” (Pistone 34). Because technology separates or divides, people have only become more impersonal and robotic. “Technology permeates every area of society essentially invading our lives. It can help ease our burdens, but there is a price to pay, as we lose the human touch” (Pistone 34). One can almost never talk to a person when contacting any business. Instead there are automated options to select from. Hopefully, one of the options provides the answer needed. Texting, though very useful for quick messages, is very volatile in the sense that it can either be too impersonal or too personal. There are some conversations that just should not be communicated via text messaging, but rather face to face. Also, it is a great deal easier to say hurtful things to someone through texting them from a distance as opposed to what might be said in a face-to-face confrontation. The immediacy of responding in the heat of the moment precludes thinking through a response that might occur as reactions are gauged and evaluated in person.
After examining in what ways society has become lazier, divisive, and impersonal, due to technology, now to investigate how the pace of technology instigates impatience. Not only is technology improving with newer applications and features, it is made to work faster. Because technology is speeding up, many people in society are also doing just that, speeding up. Back in the days when peoples only source of communication was through letters, it sometimes took weeks to several months for a written response. Today people grow worried or even hostile if they don’t receive a prompt text message response within at least five minutes. The faster technology is able to perform the work the more time people feel they have for other things. There is more time to cram other demands into already-packed schedules.
Many people would argue that the positive aspects of technology greatly outweigh any possible negative effects. According to Helen Crompton, “Technology is one of the most powerful tools in our schools today for developing critical-thinking skills” (7). Technology is a limitless resource and it does have the potential to stimulate society to becoming critical-thinkers. However, there seem to be too many ways in which technology is, first, overused, and second, abused. An example of how technology is overused includes video gaming. Some justify excessive hours of playing video games by saying that it helps children develop eye-hand coordination skills. While that may be true, playing sports also develops eye-hand coordination skills. Plus exercise is not only beneficial mentally, but physically as well. Examples of how society abuses technology is when it is used for cyber bullying, sexting, and allowing it to use its enslaving power. “Technology is a great servant, but a terrible master” (Courtney 1).
Technology has advanced to the astonishing point to where most of society is simply awestruck by the possibilities, not thought to be possible half a century ago. Because advances are being discovered and produced at a faster and faster rate, there should be alarm for more caution, not gullible wholeheartedness. There really is much more involved in technology than that which meets the lusty eye of humanity. Already identified, are four negative results of technology: laziness, division, impersonality, and impatience in our society. There appear to be many other problems caused as a result of the technological movement, though not illustrated in great detail here. The entreaty to society is not to completely refrain from technology, but to limit its usage, and not to use it as an unnecessary crutch. Overuse of a given technological resource leads to crippling dependence. Abuse of a given technological resource leads to maimed unreliability.
Next, it is vitally important that people, especially young adults, become critical-thinkers. Technological resources are without limits. The key is learning how to sift through the plethora of resources available and then using them wisely and carefully. Part of becoming a critical-thinker is purposely engaging with other people in your environment as opposed to allowing technology to disconnect one from it altogether. Part of becoming a critical-thinker is putting aside lazy thinking patterns and making the intentional effort to connect with the real people around. Utilize the available technology to its fullest potential without using it as an excuse to do less work, allow it to isolate from the environment, replace interpersonal relationships, or cause impatience with non-tech life.
Courtney, Martin. "Technology is the servant, not the master." Computing 4 Aug. 2011. Computer Database.Web. 26 Nov. 2011.
Crompton, Helen, and Alfred Thompson. "Is technology killing critical-thinking skills?" Learning & Leading with Technology Aug. 2010: 6+. Computer Database.Web. 26 Nov. 2011.
Furger, Roberta. "TEENS: How They Learn." FamilyPC Feb. 2001: 74. Computer Database.Web. 26 Nov. 2011.
Pistone, Renee A. "A critical examination of Heidegger's thoughts: technology places humanity in shackles hindering our natural thinking process and our connection to being." Computer and Information Science 3.2 (2010): 34+. Computer Database.Web. 26 Nov. 2011.
Weinberg, Rick, Stager, Gary. "Should there be limits on student's screen time." Learning & Leading with Technology Sept.-Oct. 2010: 6+. Computer Database.Web. 26 Nov. 2011.