Let’s get one thing straight: modern technology has made monumental changes to human existence. The preponderance of theses changes have been for the better; to argue anything else is pointless. The ability to communicate instantly and efficiently across the globe has revolutionized everything from medicine to warfare. But for all the whizz-bang and wizardry offered by the modern world, there come some rather harsh consequences. Our love affair with all things wired and wireless, especially in regard to the way we communicate, is having a profound impact on our social and societal
All too often, we are exposed to the stereotype of the socially inept computer whiz. The archetype, however hyperbolic and crude it may be, reflects a growing truth in our society. More and more we are neglecting face-to-face, personal conversation in favor of technologically aided means of communication. While texts, emails and instant messages bring us the benefit of instantaneous, asynchronous communication, they also force us to interact on only the most surface level.
The vocabulary of instant communication is increasingly becoming a factor of the lowest common denominator. The text message has denigrated the language of all but the most resolute of users to a Pidgin English that lacks all of the beauty and eccentricity of the original tongue. Email is little better; there is nuance in the spoken language that even the most eloquent of written words fail to convey. Tone and inflection, whether expressed vocally or through sign, add a depth of meaning that written language can never completely express. Rather than dedicating the bulk of our formidable intellects to the act of truly communicating with another person we are now according ever-smaller fragments of our cognizance to trite quips with dozens of acquaintances at once.
We, as a people, have largely stopped putting thought into what we say. Our communal consciousness has gone from talk of politics and philosophy to frivolous arguments over lolcats and Rebecca Black. If this trend continues, how long will it be before we forget how to meaningfully interact with each other? For a species that has forged its path to global dominance through shared ingenuity and combined effort, such a result could be
There is no denying that our beloved technological marvels have generally made the world a better place. But as with anything else, there is always too much of a good thing. With most things we are smart enough to notice when we’ve gone too far: when we overeat we feel full, but our appetite for technology seems unending. Maybe it’s because we lack the evolutionary warning signs, maybe it’s because the face of our technological lover is always changing, maybe it’s because the effects of our techno-binge are so subtle, but at this point it is clear that we’re addicted to our tech and like any addiction, it’s having measurable harmful effects on us.
While I’m certainly not advocating for the abandonment of our modern methods of communicating, I think it would be wise of us to step back and ponder what our addiction might be costing us, and whether that’s a price we are willing to pay. Perhaps, as is often the case, the wisest sentiment in regards to our current situation can be found in the words of the ancients. Confucius has this to say: “The superior man wishes to be slow in his words and earnest in his conduct.”