In the last 20 years, the daily technology that we use regularly has developed at an accelerated speed. It seems as if every year, boundaries and limitations are pushed even further as big companies continuously work to bring their consumers the next best technological invention. Although one must consider the good that this has brought us, such as being able to stay in contact with loved ones overseas, and increased productivity of businesses, there is a lot said for its downsides. Especially in regards to the mobile phone and social media.
The new Netflix addition, ‘The Social Dilemma’, is a 90-minute documentary in which many ex-employees of Silicon Valley companies are interviewed and are able to express their worries with the rapid growth of social media our generation is faced with, and how slowly and almost unnoticeably it is taking over our lives. One particularly striking moment came from author Jaron Lanier, who wrote ‘10 Reasons For Deleting Your Social Media. He stated that ‘It’s the gradual, slight, imperceptible change in our own behavior and perception that is the product’. Furthermore, many of us are oblivious to just how much we depend on our phones, and when the tech companies can manipulate this by just a fraction, we are subconsciously aiding the development of the industry. ‘If you’re not paying for the product, then you’re the product.’
According to one study by the Center for Internet and Technology Addiction, an estimated 10-12% would actually be classified as addicted to their smartphones, and this number is only rising. An even horrifying discovery that was found in the study is that 90% of Americans fall into the category of abusing, misusing, or overusing their devices. In an article written by Dr. Susan Weinschenk, she explains why it is that so many of us find technology so addictive: ‘With the internet, twitter, and texting you now have almost instant gratification of your desire to seek. Want to talk to someone right away? Send a text and they respond in a few seconds. Want to look up some information? Just type your request into google… It’s easy to get in a dopamine induced loop. Dopamine starts you seeking, then you get rewarded for the seeking which makes you seek more. It becomes harder and harder to stop looking at email, stop texting, or stop checking your cell phone to see if you have a message or a new text’.
All in all, it is no secret that the recent growth of technology has brought consumers both positives and negatives, however, it seems to be the slow and unobtrusive damage that is causing long term harm.