As we clamor after the latest technologies, we lose site of what matters most in life, which is relationships. It has been observed in recent years that relationship inabilities are rising as access to technology is increasing. This has disastrous consequences for humanity. A civilization that does not know how to properly value personal relationships is an unhealthy one and should rethink itself.
When technology began to replace people in the workplace, personal relationships began to decrease in importance. Beginning with the industrial revolution and leading all the way up until the present time, technology has increasingly become more of a presence in the workplace. A trend that is just beginning now, however, is that technology is actually taking jobs away from people. In the past, the ongoing production of technology kept people working, but technology has become smart to the point of needing less human oversight, which is hurting our job market.
When people began thinking of technology as a means of socializing and replacing in-person connections with socializing through technology, the collective value on personal relationships began to decrease. When people begin to feel more comfortable with socializing through the medium of technology rather than in person, or worse yet, feel closer to the technology that enables their socializing than they feel toward the person they are socializing with, they have reached a place of mental unhealthiness.
We are losing our ability to connect with one another due to our obsession with connecting with technology. It is causing fragmentation within our society. Our broken connections lead to antisocial behavior, bullying, isolation, addiction problems, sociopathic behavior, narcissism and generally self-focused behavior. If we want to strengthen the things that make our lives, our culture and our overall condition of a high quality, we have to begin to practice moderation when it comes to technology. The worshipful behavior we have exhibited over it is a social sickness.
It is a well known fact that we are something of a technology obsessed culture. The role that technology has come to play in our lives is so much more significant than it was through most of human history. Not just because technology is so much more advanced than it used to be, but also because it means more to us than it used to. Where before, technology was merely a tool, it is now what facilitates many of our personal relationships. Our televisions and streaming devices put us in touch with fictional and non-fictional characters and personas that we come to think of as buddies. Technology carries more personal meaning to us than it ever did in the past, and our focus on it has become obvious.
This can be observed largely by how much we are willing to invest in our technologies. Our time, money and energy is given in large quantities to the upkeep of our technology. We spend precious seconds, minutes and hours researching, acquiring, assembling and using our technology. We save and subsequently spend astronomical amounts of money in order to invest financially into our technologies. And most critically, we spend reserves of our energy and even emotion on our technology. The concept of entropy is very applicable to this situation. We value technology so highly because we feel that it makes our lives so much easier when in fact, the peripheral chaos that technology creates makes our lives more challenging.
Many studies done by economists, social scientists, cultural anthropologists and mental health professionals have observed that the value people put on their technology, personally, financially and otherwise, has increased greatly in recent years and will continue to do so as we move forward. Technology can be a blessing and a curse, and it is advisable to reconsider the value you put on technology in order to correctly prioritize it.
We are in an age when technology reigns supreme. We rely on technology to function more and more every day, as technology increases in intelligence and as we grow more and more accustomed to having it available to us. This relationship we are developing with technology has benefits, but has also been found to have many detriments. There is a great deal of question over what our relationship to technology is doing to us psychologically. Humanity is evolving from a species that interacted to do manual work to a species that retreats to isolation and relies on technology to do work for it. One of mankind’s ways of life that has suffered most drastically because of this is our everyday human contact.
The insurgence of technology that has been the recent condition of humanity has initiated a strange phenomenon. Technology has begun to replace the in-person presence of humans, both in the workplace and in our social spheres. This is concerning for a number of reasons, primarily that technology is replacing humans in the work place despite a growing need for continued job creation, and because antisocial conditions are a serious mental health threat. Economists and job market experts have observed that, despite a growing global population, job creation is occurring much slower than population growth due to how many jobs are being taken from humans and given to technology. Social scientists have observed a connection between the increase in technology and the increase in antisocial disorders, such as narcissism, sociopathic tendencies and chronic shyness.
Our over-reliance on technology is becoming commonplace, but it warrants caution and should be personally moderated by every individual. It is leading us to interact with technology more than interact with other people, which ultimately damages our sense of what human relationships are. Technology is not evil. It is necessary, progressive and life-saving. But like everything else in life, if it is used in excess, it becomes harmful.
North American society is indisputably fractured in some ways. Gun violence, divorce rates and mental illness are at an all time high. The ability to co-exist and resolve conflicts, which are basic human relationship skills, are not present like they should be within a healthy society. There are many possible reasons for this dysfunctional behavior, not the least of which is technology and what effect it has had on society as a whole. Albert Einstein said, “I fear the day technology will surpass our human interaction. The world will have a generation of idiots.” Some believe this condition is already upon us.
The emergence of technology came with the ideal that we would come closer together as a species through technology. Not only would we come to understand truths together, we would be more connected and enabled to communicate. While these were noble ideals, an equal and opposite reaction has been observed in North American society since digital technology emerged. Instead of closer relationships, technology has divided us. Where there used to be an in-person conversation, complete with non-verbal signals, facial expressions and deeply personal communication, we have become philosophically removed from one another by channeling our interactions through technology. No one anticipated that communication through technology would become preferred to in-person communication, but it largely has.
Could it be that the introduction of communication technology has contributed to the fracturing of North American social consciousness? Is it possible that mediating our communication through devices has made communication impersonal, and thus made us more anti-social and narcissistic? The weight of mental illness and violence is certainly not entirely on communication technology, but social scientists and psychologist alike have claimed that it contributes to individualism in a large way, in a time when social thinking is very important. The best thing we can do as a society to reverse this trend is to think critically about our relationship with technology, put limits on it and remember how to prioritize our in-person relationships for the sake of humanity.