I am heading out of internet reception tomorrow, and am not as far on my paper as I was hoping to be, but I would welcome any and all peer reviews! Here it is;
We are in the midst of an age of technology, and though we may feel like this has been so for a long time, in truth it has only been a couple of decades. We have been able to bridge amazing distances with the flick of out wrist, and the web has aloud anyone who wishes to publish there thoughts, opinions, and feelings as widely as they see fir. But we are far from understanding the manors on which technology can foster the distances, the ways it can breed apathy and indifference when left uncheck. These are two traits all societies should actively avoid; apathy and indifference. Both of with are spawned by anxiety, isolation, and incivility. I am not and will never claim that the vast tools technology has allotted us have not lead to fruitful years, that is undebatable. But, is a social and emotional sense, it has lead to an increasingly barren season. All of these tendencies can be almost completely eradicated simply through awareness, which is what I wish to stress in writing this. None of the following issues are irreversibly written in stone, all of them can be remedied in time. I wish to stress how pressing I find the issue, and the specific subsets of the ways our technology has effected us emotionally, and in doing so, shifted our cultures accepted cultural norms.
I would like to start with writing about one of the biggest effects technology has on us that we may not realize; how much it can alter our sleep schedules. At the end of the day, settling down to sleep, are there any of us who do not check our phone a last time or browse the internet for a few minutes, or something to that affect? Maybe a few. I will admit, I am not one of them. But the glow of our screens subtitling stimulates our brain activity. It is slight; you will not be left feeling wide awake, but it will obstruct your sleep, making it more difficult to reach the deeper levels of sleep, and more difficult to drift into the first stages as well. It can leave you with a sleeping disorder, and can also lead to depressive symptoms and stress. But most of us already know that this is true. An article from tidally.com contains this more technical explanation; “Our study shows that a two-hour exposure to light from self-luminous electronic displays can suppress melatonin by about 22 percent,” says associate professor Mariana Figueiro. “Stimulating the human circadian system to this level may affect sleep in those using the devices prior to bedtime.” It messes with your circadian rhythm (which is just an ominous way to say “sleep schedule”) by suppressing the energy you get from The Sun. I personally find this as fascinating as it is terrifying.
A much less terrifying but no less fascinating side effect of routine use of technology is how it can affect your memory. Browsing through Facebook, Twitter, Pintrest or something like it can become something on an information overload, and make it harder to file away the important information. Your brain tends to have a difficult time knowing what to store and what to disregard, essentially. As stated here by Dr. Anthony Wagner, an associate professor of psychology at Stanford; “When they’re in situations where there are multiple sources of information coming from the external world or emerging out of memory, they’re not able to filter out what’s not relevant to their current goal. That failure to filter means they’re slowed down by that irrelevant information.” The brain is deeply complicated in the way it processes and stores information, and, apparently, it is a relatively fragile equation. As stated above, the screen itself can overstimulate and mess with your sleep schedule. The information itself though, the wide variety of content on the most commonly visited sites of the internet, can negatively impact your ability to recall a piece of the information from this wave of it. This perpetuates by our ability to so easily return to those pages and pick out the specific piece of information, leading our brain to believe that we do not need to store it. A dependance is built by this “spoon feeding,” as it has been nicknamed. Decades ago, if you wanted to research a question thoroughly, you would go to the library and comb through the plethora of books until you found the piece of information you are looking for. I am not denying the wonderful help it is to just google the question and find the answer that way, but I will confidently claim that you are much more likely to remember and be able to effectively recall the information if you had to pursue it in a more long winded manor. Psychologically, this is leading us to believe that things like this are easy, leading to the likelihood of emotional unpreparedness to increase.
Another reaction spoon feeding can illicit is the weakening of ones imagination. Now this is one issue that borders on heartbreaking in my opinion, or soon will if left unmonitored for a few years longer. With the ease of looking up what we want to know at the click of a mouse, we are getting more likely (though not everyone all the time, but certainly more often) to blindly accept facts rather than interpret them independently for ourselves. The internet can, in our own mind, inhibit the practicality our creative contributions. Children are more susceptible to this than adults, but the issue spans the generations exposing themselves to the tools. Children are more susceptible to all of the negative effects on technology, in fact. They are likely to have their physical, cognitive, and social developments affected! But the effects on children are too vast to list, and a different topic all together. Spoon feeding effects adults and teenagers as much, in different ways; with the older groups, it is not as deep set, for they are in not in early stages of development. It is fascinating in a tragic kind of way, that such a helpful resource can hinder as much as it helps.
Overuse of technology can lead to anxiety and insecurity, which I will elaborate on later, but the most recent development in this area is FOMO, The Fear of Missing Out sensation, or the “is everyone having fun without me?” disease. With the increasing unavoidability of social media sites, or, more so, the fact that they have become a crucial hub of information and conversation, everyone from middle schoolers to the middle aged are experiencing this new set of paranoias. We feel the pressure to attend every event and share every happening, and it perpetuates itself; it could maybe be described as peer pressure, but its not so much that as it is adhering to a social norm. It is perfectly socially acceptable to check Twitter or your email on a date, or interrupt someone in the room to answer a phone call, or, though it is thankfully becoming less socially acceptable, many of us (myself included) have no problem checking our phones while driving, risking our very lives to check and make sure that we are not becoming less connected. There is a blog on psychcentral.com that asks, “The question is — will we ever settle for what we have, rather than cling to the fear that we may be missing out on something better?” Our relationship with technology is still, in the grand scheme, quite new. Our relationship will mature in time, and we will become less dependent, but, do to human nature, it is unlikely that we will not be curious about what is happening elsewhere when the present moment fails to capture entirely. FOMO will most likely follow us as long as social media is so prominent, but I am hoping that it will shift to a less hindering level.
There is another anxiety blooming for the first time in our day and age that I would like to describe, while the subject of social media is the focus. Most of us have heard the expression, “Compare and Despair.” More elaborately phrased, if you examine your life by comparing it to a detailed description of anthers life, you will undoubtably be immensely disappointed. This in itself is far from a new social development, I am sure that people have been doing just this for hundreds of years, longer, since the dawn of civilized man. But with the gift that is sisal media, it becomes almost impossible to not fall into the afore mentioned tendency. Not only that, but the “detailed life” we end up comparing ours to is one that has been careful crafted by another, inadvertently or otherwise, to reflect a specific version of that person, which may not be altogether dishonest, but is unlikely to be anywhere close to completely honestly one hundred percent accurate. We display our best-of moments on social media, the best days, the wittiest comments, the most beautiful pictures, until what we have is a highlight reel for our friends to look over and approve. What we end up with is a breeding ground for insecurity. Even the more emotionally sound individuals will surely find themselves feeling those quiet pangs of anxiety, how could they not? We only see what they want to show (for the most part), their highlight reel and compare it to our full product. It is not a fair comparison, but it is one that is hard not to make without actively resisting it. So resist! Let social media be the wonderful tool it can be, promoting communication and not insecurity. It is possible, I assure, and in time it will hopefully shift to the best version it can be, if we are aware of what is between us and that best version.
I need to write the conclusion, first off, but also add in the rest of my sources, and post my bibliography.