Technology has made our lives easier, but it’s also distorting the way we perceive time, connect with others, and perform our most basic tasks.
Life over these past 200 years has changed more than it did in the 10,000 years that preceded it.
The rise of industrialisation simply cannot be overestimated. New modes of transport have distorted our sense of space. New medicine and machines have doubled, and even tripled, our lifespan, and the mechanisation of most jobs has seen us become detached from the production of our foods and other everyday objects.
Yet even that was a slow and steady process, with members of every generation alive today having the time to get to grips with it and see it as a completely normal part of life. But what about contemporary technology? All the smartphones and tablets and laptops and smartwatches? What are they doing to us as humans?
They’re distorting our sense of time and memory. How do we count time? The obvious answer would be in seconds, minutes and hours. The smarty pants will probably also include milli- and nanoseconds to that, too. But, as people, we count time through memories – and the fonder the memory, the longer the time it took to unfold will be. That’s why, for example, a year in the life of a 10 year old feels longer than a year in the life of a 50 year old. When we’re 10, everything feels new and exciting, so our brain is tricked into thinking that the experience lasted longer. When we’re 50, we’ve seen it all before, so our brain condenses the memory and the time it actually took.
Today, as our experiences are dotted with social media posts, e-mails, texts and photographs, our memory bank is changing. In fact, psychologist Betsy Sparrow from Columbia University says that rather than remembering things, we remember where we need to go to find them. This means that we are more likely to crave technology in order to fulfill our need for constant stimulation; the more stimulated we are, the more we change our perception of memory and time.
We’ve made our information retention redundant. Remember when we had to remember phone numbers by heart, just in case we had an emergency and needed to call someone? Actually, you might have forgotten, as technology is making us so reliant on it that we’re simply letting go of information, since it’ll remember it for us. It might feel or sound okay, but how far will this go? What basic knowledge will we go on to forget?
Technology’s destroying our children’s ability for self-regulation. If you have a child and a smartphone or a tablet, then chances are you’ve used the latter to calm the former. This, according to scientists, is stopping children from learning self-regulation and self-restraint, leading to the next generation not being able to control their emotions and other basic functions, including their ability to be empathetic, grasping basic mathematical skills, and even mastering the use of the five senses!
In fact, technology is affecting us so much that even our sleeping patterns are changing, and it’s making us depressed. Some have already started going on technological detoxes – usually by going far away from city life and leaving technology behind for a couple of days. And if the thought of that makes you go mad with anxiety, maybe you should do it too.
What do you think? Are we addicted to technology? Have you felt or experienced any changes?
Let us know your opinion in the comments section below.