A revolution has begun in our time. From the creation of the modern internet in the 1990’s, to today, at no time in our history has more information been shared instantaneously. Technology is being implemented in nearly every facet of life, from the way we do our jobs, the way we learn in school, and even the way relationships blossom and grow. The ability to connect with people from every corner of the world with simply the click of a button is incredibly appealing to social creatures such as ourselves. This seems almost too good to be true. With all the positives, we’re sometimes left blind to all the negative effects this can have on our lives.
In classrooms, technology education is developing a special niche. Even the youngest of children are exposed to the workings of the internet. They learn how to find information relevant to their studies, how to protect themselves, and be a part of something bigger than themselves. Personally speaking, there really hasn’t been a time in my education where I didn’t take advantage of using the massive resources available to me on the web. Even as I type this, I am using technology to remain connected to my friends via text. The internet is full of valuable resources, open to curious minds alike. Families, once separated by vast, impassable oceans, can now talk and keep relationships alive through programs like Facebook and Skype. People can share ideas, opinions, and interests with a variety of people from all walks of life. World news, instead of taking days or weeks to reach home, comes out within an instant and is always in reach. The benefits to the internet and having access to it seem endless, but sometimes are quite the contrary.
Talking to people through social media removes face to face communication. Humans are incredibly social creatures. We all know this, and have felt the effects of being alone a little too long. Communication, despite what most people think, is a very non-verbal affair. As we speak to another person we are picking up non verbal cues from things such as eye movement, posture, and hand gestures. Tone of voice also plays a huge roll in how we interpret what the other person is saying to us. Taking this away, we lose a lot from the conversation. Speaking only through text or Facebook limits us to only what the person is saying, not the WAY they say it. Miscommunication and misread intentions becomes the norm. This disconnect from visuals opens the door to behaviours we wouldn’t exhibit if we were actually in the company of other people. Cyber bullying is a prime example. Bullies, not actually seeing their victims, pick away at their self confidence by saying things they would never be able to in person. In recent years this has become a pandemic of sorts. Many an innocent victim has fallen prey to the invisible tyrants. Parents, suddenly aware of the threat, often jump to the conclusion that all of the internet is bad. Older generations, not having grown up with the internet and the issues that can arise from it, just don’t understand the sorts of things that go on and how to protect themselves and their children. This causes a huge gap between the generations, which can be frustrating for both the youth and the older folks. Like any man-made system, it’s possible to break down. Now in any normal situation, this might not be a big deal, but in the case of technology, it can be devastating. Instant gratification gives us pleasure. Instant access to what we want makes us happy. From there it goes from being fun, from being a desire, to being a need, something more than just a want. Now being treated as an illness, addiction to our technology creates problems seen in addiction to any other substance.
In the end, despite its benefits, technology can be harmful to our quality of life, our connection with our living breathing environment, and our relationships. Now, instead of running screaming, it’s all about education. To reap the benefits technology and the internet offers, we must learn to protect ourselves and our children. We must learn to be productive and positive members of the community that has taken shape, but not allow ourselves to be sucked into the addicting void that strips us of our humanity. Get outside, enjoy the sun and reality, but don’t forget you’re now part of something much bigger than yourself. And as they say, “with great power comes great responsibility”.