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The Ugly Truth about the Technological Era

Technology is both a blessing and a curse. We can thank technology for making our lives easier through inventions such as ecommerce, Skype, and smartphones. Borders no longer separate the world. People are now globally interconnected in a way that had never previously been though possible. Businesses are able to expand their horizons in several countries without establishing storefronts in these countries. Statistics show that “the internet contributes to over $2.2 trillion in annual retail sales.” Additionally, 40% of the world’s population used the internet in 2015 with 48.4% of these internet users coming from Asia.  People have been empowered to establish their own businesses as a part of the online freelance gig economy. Search engines have made information available at our fingertips.

Nevertheless, the things that we appreciate about technology are shaping a world that we’ll barely be able to recognize (and not in a good way). Over the past decade, a culture of instant service and gratification, vanity, and social ineptitude has developed. Gone are the days when quality face-to-face interactions were valued and being a good neighbor was commonplace. Technology is creating a generation of people who I fear entrusting my future to.

Focus on Power and Wealth

Money and power have always been determinants of social status.  From the beginning of time, those who owned the most projected dominance over those who owned little. However, modern-day society places much more emphasis on gaining power and wealth at all costs. So, you step on a few toes, bruise a few egos, and throw some people under the bus. It’s all in the name of success and progress. There’s nothing wrong with that.

One may argue that this effect is more so the result of how the media portrays society. The role technology plays is minuscule. I beg to disagree.  A prime example is President Donald Trump who consistently uses his Twitter account to spread false news and further his own agenda. Technology has provided the perfect platform for him to exert psychological influence over those gullible enough to feed off his every word.

Yes, there is some balance between the negative and positive messages of power and wealth portrayed online. The question is, however, “Is this balance equal?” Or does the desire to get more followers, likes and shares proliferate the negative? This article by James Rosebush states that although the negative is proliferated, some people holding the grips of power and wealth are attempting to deal with the issues and create a better world. While this is true, I still believe that the proliferation of the negative and use of technology for social control by the wealth is creating a heartless, cold generation.

“Quality” is No Longer Associated with Our Interactions

While technology does make it easier for people to communicate regardless of location, it has seriously affected the quality of our interactions. Nielsen reported that “text messaging” is the most used data service in the world.” We’ve become more accustomed to communicating via Whats App, iMessage and emoticons that face-to-face conversations become foreign and awkward. Even when we are around other people, we’re glued to our phone screens responding to message or checking our social media feeds.

Text conversations lead to more misunderstandings and broken relationships than any other form of communication. It also accelerates the dating process and is very impersonal.  Of course, emojis are cute and texts allow you to express thoughts that are more difficult to say aloud. However, nothing truly beats face-to-face interaction.

This new type of human interaction has created a new form of bullying: cyber-bullying. Hate messages and videos are becoming more common on social media platforms. The victims of these attacks are often emotionally scarred for life.

To keep up with technology trends, many companies are moving towards more automated processes. Banks are slowly phasing out tellers. Business calls are answered by an automated voice service. People are being encouraged to interact more with machines than human beings.  Amazon Go is one of the most recent examples of this.  While attempting to make processes less time-consuming for consumers, new problems are being created. Soon we’ll be living in a completely impersonal world where we stay locked up in our homes and only go to places with the least possible human interactions. We are creating a self-absorbed world where true empathy is lacking. What kind of people are we becoming?

Security Threats are More Prevalent

Our lives are online, free for the world to see. We input our credit card information to do our online shopping, create our social media profiles to interact with our friends and family, and download anything that tickles our fancy. It’s, therefore, no surprise that the number of internet security threats more than doubled between 2014 and 2015. We’ll never forget the 70 million customers who were affected by the breach in Target’s POS (point of sale) software in 2014.  There have been other incidents since at other prominent businesses.

Cyber security has become such a major problem that an industry has been created for it. In fact, there were a million cyber security job openings in 2016. The more we do online is the more at risk we become.

 

These are the 3 main issues that frighten me about technology. I am a millennial and embrace the benefits of technology. However, the qualities Generation Z possesses make me fear for the future of the world. Many of these qualities are closely related to the negatives of technology I’ve outlined. I have made a conscious decision to be positive in my use of social media, spend quality face-to-face time with my friends, and cautiously engage in online transactions. Hopefully, more people will do the same.

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