Technology is a blessing and a curse. Arianna Huffington, president and editor-in-chief of the Huffington Post Media Group, provided her perspective of the impact of technology on the world and what this meant for social media during her talk for the “tech/no” spring series. Technology has connected the world but, on a superficial level, without proper maintenance it can create an unintended but ironic dissonance with reality.
students tote around smart phones that constantly connect them to the vast social media sites of Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr, making them available for social interaction at any time and place. Despite this constant connectivity, in normal day-to-day exchange there seems to be an inability for people to socialize in tangible space. Cafeteria meals are supposed to be times for conversation and real connections but are instead riddled with constant texting and social networking. People pass up chances for real-time conversations in exchange for ones on the digital plane. Socializing has become null and unnatural despite this constant virtual connectivity. Our generation has lost the ability to hold a conversation and instead retreats to the comfort of smart phones.
This retreat into comfort has also harbored an inability to live and enjoy life as it plays out. People use smart phones to take them away from their current surroundings and direct their attentions to the internet where things are seemingly more interesting. People miss the best moments of life and this constant need for stimulation reduces our attention spans. The best moments in life are rarities and can only be enjoyed to the fullest when they’re not being compared to the internet which can provide comparatively better entertainment. Jokes are not as funny, people are overexposed and friendships become an unnatural Facebook construct of accepting an invitation.
This inability to live without technology has degraded the quality of ideas people can have. Because the internet provides such rich distraction, there is less time for people to retreat into their own thoughts and find true inspiration. Ideas instead become a recycling of what other people say and not of organic inspiration. These thoughts become shallow and common, a dangerous future for idea development. Good ideas come from new inspiration and metacognition which requires patience and time, both of which people are running out of in exchange for technology.
Excessive technology use can be cured with a little bit of control. Technology does not need to dominate every minute of our days. Take some time, unplug your devices and enjoy life as it manifests. Enjoy the people surrounding you and the richness of reality. You develop your own identity instead of latching onto everyone else’s.
Despite technology’s many flaws, it has provided us with an important level of connectivity and information distribution. It can be a tool for good as long as it’s used for important engagement of information and opinions. An example of this would be the Huffington Post’s use of opinion forums where people can hash out their ideas. These people have their own original ideas and share them across a space where improved conclusions can manifest. Technology can be a positive with proper and restrained us.