How much do we leverage the "benefits of technology"? Are we utilizing our smart devices in the right way? Have we become addicted to the virtual world?
Nomophobia, technoference, cyberchondria...
Do you know the meanings of these terms? To be honest, I have recently learned some of them. Nomophobia is the fear of not having a working mobile phone. While technoference refers to being involved in technology constantly, cyberchondria is repeatedly doing online health-related searches.
All of them are next-gen diseases, fears, and pathological states generated by the virtual world. Technology and the internet have introduced us to a brand new world. They have created new industries and simplified the flow of our daily lives. Moreover, they have offered us all the channels to access information, providing platforms where we can turn our hobbies into practice.
Well, how much do we really leverage the "benefits of technology"? Are we utilizing our smart devices that are always in our hands in an optimum way? Let's ask the question differently: Have we become addicted to the virtual world? For instance, have you ever gone a day without your phone or internet connection, or can you do it? Indeed, some will say, "But it is a must for my work". Then, let's put it otherwise: Have you ever spent a day-off or an annual leave without checking your phone? The answer will be "no", 98%. Sadly, we, internet users, have become "addicted to blue light"!
Internet = Social media
Research reveals that people allocate most of their time to social media and games in the digital world. This rate is 90% in Turkey. Today, everyone values themselves based on the number of likes, RTs, and comments they receive. While sharing our lives on social media right away, we are also equally interested in the lives of others.
Exploring the craziness of the virtual world, professionals agree that "It all started with Facebook's like button." The like button is crucial that each social media platform entered our lives post-Facebook benefits from similar practices and includes new features daily.
'Warning" from tech giants
We are always in communication. We have a hard time focusing on any task and get distracted instantly. Although we are enthusiastic about something, we may not achieve success. I believe there are two reasons behind this situation: First, we give in the brain's drive to be lazy. Secondly, we are constantly stimulated in an entirely uncontrollable way. The notification bar of our phones is always active.
Although many cause quite a stir that WhatsApp groups may steal our data, these groups are still at the heart of our lives. Lots of groups for the workplace, high school, university friends, gym buddies, trekking group, dance class, elementary family, slightly extended family, mother's side, father's side, your spouse's side... Probably everyone has had a relative who resented to them for being unable to mute the family group and read the 100 messages sent in half an hour.
"John has recently added to his story, Emily posted a picture after a long time, unbelievable discounts from eCommerce sites, game notifications when it is your move, e-mails, never-ending offers from GSM companies, mobile banking notifications..."
Tech giants constantly develop new applications so that our online presence and digital footprint can always increase in the virtual world. On the other hand, if we stop playing it safe and activate the mute button, we worry about "what if one of our loved ones need our help". This loop can even cause us to lose control over our lives.
The wave of information has resulted in passivity and egoism
Let's focus on the damage caused by this situation on the individual and sociological structure.
While George Orwell's 1984 became popular, Aldous Huxley proposed a pretty different thesis than Orwell's in his "Brave New World". Orwell warned us that someone, namely Big Brother, was always watching us and that any externally-imposed oppression would force us to submit. However, in Huxley's vision, "No Big Brother is needed to deprive people of their autonomy, maturity, and history. People will start to love their oppression and adore the technologies that bind their capacities to think." In his study which discusses these two theories, Neil Postman argues that: What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. However, Huxley feared that there would be no reason to ban a book because there would be no one who wanted to read one.
Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information, while Huxley feared those who would give us so much information that we would be drowned in passivity and egoism. On the other hand, Orwell was concerned that the truth would be hidden from us, while Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance. Orwell feared we would become a captive culture. However, Huxley was afraid that we would become an insignificant culture based on emotional abuse and distracted with drinking parties and the centrifugal bumble-puppy (or spending the entire day in front of the TV or computer, or being preoccupied with chatting as in today).
Considering where we are today, we can see Huxley's vision's accuracy. As Postman states, "The world has become a global village. However, the piper of this global village is on duty to put people to sleep and numb them with drugs. This piper, who was primarily the television, is now the internet and even tech giants…"
Most of us use these apps because they are free. However, we should remember that: If the product is free, 'we' are the product! Although I have outlined a gloomy picture, we should remedy our digital literacy-related deficiencies to obtain the optimum gain from the internet, which I consider a "benefit", and utilize it as a product. You can also explore ways to make up these deficiencies online!