Knowing the Signs to Answer the Question: Is Society too Dependent on Technology?
Trying to imagine what life would be like without technology is practically impossible. We are so dependent on technology that it's become an integral part of our lives. Technology has made life easier, more convenient, safer, and more enjoyable. Almost everything we do involves technology in one way or another, which begs the question--are we as a society too dependent on technology?
What are the Effects of Technology?
Technology has had a huge impact on every facet of society. It's expanded the ways in which we are entertained, has changed how we communicate, has increased our ability to travel, and has even impacted social change within our societies. The more technology has advanced, the greater the impact it has had on society as a whole. Just take a look at where society was in the 19th century versus where it went in the 20th century following the rapid advancement of technology (from the invention of electricity to the automobile to the computer).
The Effects of Technology on Entertainment
Before technology changed everything, entertainment was limited to things like going out to the circus, to a play, or to dinner with friends. Then the cinema was invented and people went to the movies. Once the TV was introduced, people no longer had to leave their homes to be entertained. The ability to consume entertainment became more and more convenient as a result of technology. These days, there are more entertainment options at home than there are outside the home--you can stream tens of thousands of movies, shows, sports games, and more from your TV or computer.
And that's just passive entertainment--there are thousands of video games that can keep you actively engaged without ever leaving your home as well. The recent integration of VR (virtual reality) in video games means you're able to imitate active forms of entertainment that you traditionally had to participate in outside the house, such as going bowling, going paintballing, or even playing sports.
The Social Effect of Technology
Human beings are social creatures. Humans need to interact with other humans--it's part of their nature. However, technology is slowly chipping away at the need to actually interact with other humans in person. For example, the creation of social media has allowed people to engage with thousands of other humans whom they don't even personally know. You can create an entire social circle of friends online that you've never met in real life.
The Effects of Technology on The Way We Travel
Traveling long distances could take anywhere from months to years before technology changed the way we travel. Not only did it take an incredibly long time, but traveling was dangerous. It wasn't uncommon to succumb to illness, starvation, or serious injuries while on route to your destination. Nowadays, it takes less than a day to travel anywhere in the world and the risks of doing so are minimal.
Not only does it take less time to travel due to the invention of the automobile, the train, and the airplane, but the invention of GPS and its mass adoption has made it easy for people to find where they need to go with ease. It's essentially a map that tells you where you are and where you need to go at all times. You barely need to concern yourself with your surroundings as long as you have GPS on your phone. Map apps will even tell you what routes will take the least amount of time and what roads to avoid as a result of accidents or other issues that could slow you down.
The Effects of Technology on How We Communicate
Prior to communication technology, people had to meet in person to communicate. The use of messengers allowed for long distance communication, although it would take a long time to communicate back and forth based on the writers’ locations. Roughly two centuries ago, the telegram was invented, which improved the speed at which two people could communicate back and forth from distance.
But it was the telephone that changed everything. The telephone made it possible to speak with others without being in the same location in real time. Smartphones have made it possible to call, text, and even video each other.
The Effects of Technology on How We Research
Research was a much bigger challenge even 50 years ago. If you wanted to do research, you would have to go to the closest library and hope that they had the information you were looking for. The Internet is essentially an unlimited source of information, making it easier to do research and to inform yourself than ever before. In fact, spreading news and information has never been easier, which has both positive and negative effects. Although people are more informed than ever and can easily educate themselves on a variety of topics using the Internet, the ease at which information spread has proven to be dangerous as well. Misinformation can spread just as easily and have serious consequences.
How to Tell if You are Too Dependent on Technology? Here are 15 signs
As useful as technological advancements have become, its use has become so commonplace that many people are beginning to show signs of dependency. Here we explore 15 signs that you may be dependent on technology:
Nothing Can Be Done Without the Internet
If you're looking up information online and your Internet goes out, will you leave your home and travel to the nearest library? Or pull out your old encyclopedia set? If you lost your Internet connection while you were doing something online that can be done offline and you choose to wait until your Internet is reconnected, there's a chance that you have trouble doing anything without the Internet.
You’re Not Living in The Moment, You Record It
If you're experiencing a special moment (such as the last minute of a sports game or your favorite song being played at a concert), are you taking it in or are you holding up your smartphone, recording it to post to social media later? If you're recording it, then you're just experiencing it through a screen like everyone else will once they view your video, making your experience no more special than theirs.
You Lose Track of Time When You’re Online
If you go online and get lost watching YouTube videos or chatting on social media and hours pass without you even realizing it, then you may have an issue regarding your use of the Internet. You shouldn't have a problem keeping track of time and staying focused on your original reason for using the Internet when going online.
You use Calculators for Simple Calculations
Calculators are incredibly helpful tools. They allow you to solve complicated math problems without having to use a pencil and paper. They also prevent you from making mistakes, which could have consequences depending on the situation (such as if you're busy filing your taxes). However, if you've gotten so used to using your calculator that you're using it even for the simplest math problems that you should have no trouble doing in your head, then you may be a little too dependent on their use.
You Feel Anxious Without Connection
Even though human beings are social creatures, they should learn how to be alone with their own thoughts. If you suddenly begin feeling anxious because you haven't connected with anyone and want to interact with someone on your phone or computer, then technology has made you too dependent on having a connection at all times.
You Are Addicted to Your Mobile Phone
How often are you checking your smartphone? If you're constantly using your smartphone to check your social media, use your apps, play games, surf the web, and more, then you're addicted. Another way you can tell is if you're getting a dopamine rush whenever you hear your phone make a sound. It's the same rush that gambling addicts get when they spin a roulette wheel or throw a pair of dice onto a table. It's the anticipation of checking your phone that causes this rush, which is a sure sign that you're addicted to your smartphone.
You Don’t Remember Any Phone Numbers
Before cell phones, people would have to write down phone numbers or simply remember them. Certain phone numbers you would have to remember in case you were outside of your home and you needed to call someone in an emergency. If the only phone number you can remember outside of your home is your own, then you may be a little too dependent on your smartphone.
You Find it Difficult to Sleep
The process of sleeping requires the natural creation of melatonin in your body. If you're using your smartphone, tablet, or laptop right before you go to bed, then the light from these screens will delay the release of melatonin, making it more difficult to go to sleep.
You Don’t Go Out Enough
Technology has advanced so much that you could stay at home for the rest of your life without going outside. If it's gotten to the point where the majority of your social interaction is occurring online and everything you buy (from clothing to groceries) is through some sort of app, then odds are you're not getting out enough.
You Allow Machines to Dictate To You
Computers and phones can now dictate text to you. If you've chosen to implement this option so that you don't even have to read text, then you're way too dependent on your technology.
You Have Lost Your Creativity
As a child, your creativity is fostered by playing with toys, drawing on paper, doing arts and crafts, and more. The development of your imagination goes hand in hand with the development of your creativity. However, if you're using technology for all of your creative endeavors, such as using photoshop and similar apps to draw or paint, it limits the use of your imagination. Children who grow up playing video games instead of playing with action figures and dolls won't develop their imagination as much either since video games, while interactive, present existing story and characters to the players.
You Believe That Brain Games Make You Smarter
Brain games certainly have some benefits to them, such as improving hand-eye coordination and possibly improving memory skills (useful for the elderly). However, if you think that playing brain games is how you get smarter, then you're woefully mistaken. Reading books makes you smarter. Experiencing real life makes you smarter. Brain games do not make you a more intelligent person.
You Lack Human Contact Making Your Social Skills Poor
Posting comments on YouTube and Twitter is much different than speaking to someone in real life. You have time to formulate your thoughts before writing them and you don't have to deal with the consequences of posing disrespectful comments. If you find that you have trouble maintaining a conversation, keeping someone's interest, or being sensitive when interacting with someone in real life, then your lack of regular human contact has hurt your social skills.
You Obsess Over The Latest Gadgets
If you're constantly reading up on the latest gadgets and can't help but buy new gadgets whenever upgrades are available, you may have an addiction to technology. You don't need to upgrade your smartphone every six months. If you're upgrading gadgets just because of a new feature that barely affects its performance, you're obsessing over your gadgets a little too much.
You Have No Concern For Your Privacy
If you are posting content to your social media accounts so regularly that you may be oversharing (such as posting that picture of you passed out in the bathroom after drinking too much to Instagram), then you no longer have the concern for your privacy that you should have. When you're not giving your privacy much thought when interacting online, it could come back to bite you in the future (most employers will sift through the social media profiles of job candidates).
The Role of Technological Dependence on Advancement
You have to admit that certain inventions have helped further the developments of technology over the course of history. For example, without the invention of electricity, there would be no electric lighting, no indoor heating and cooling, no computer, and no telephone. However, while new advancements in technology can't be made without existing technology, new advancements could potentially be limited by technological dependence.
As we relegate more and more tasks to technology, our skill sets and creativity will become more limited. We already depend on computer systems to perform certain complex tasks and to remember information for us. The more we depend on technology to do things for us, the less capable we will be to make technological advancements.
The more dependent we become on certain technologies, the more attention we will focus on improving those technologies. Take the smartphone for example. A lot of emphasis has been placed on making smartphones more and more convenient and capable of doing more things. The resources that went into improving this one technology could have been focused on advancing other technologies that may have benefited the human race in a much greater way. Our technological dependence could hinder our ability to make significant technological advancements.
The Danger of Technological Dependence
Technological dependence can actually limit further technological advancement for our society as a whole, but there are a lot of personal dangers to technological dependence as well. Besides issues like addiction to technology and a general sense of impatience caused by the convenience of technology, the overuse of technology has also been linked to anxiety and depression in addition to other mental problems. Studies have shown that the excessive use of smartphones can impair your memory because our minds recognize that information we typically remember can be stored on and easily accessed from computers and mobile devices.
Finding the Balance of Tech and Society
Although you can easily argue that society is too dependent on technology, you can't discount what an important part technology has played in society as a whole. Technology has made life easier, safer, longer, and more enjoyable in numerous ways. The trick is finding a balance for how we use technology. Technology should be used as a way to complement our lives, not as a way to run our lives.