Technology is Shaping Our Culture: The Relationship
Over the past few weeks, I have been starting to dive into the psychology of media, specifically the way that external forces are changing our thinking. Televisions, cell phones, and laptops are among some of the devices that are shaping our culture. As you can tell by the examples that I used, I believe that technology is leading this shift more than anything else.
Prior to the development of hieroglypics in roughly 3000 B.C., people didn’t know how to read or write, so our way of communication was through speech and gestures. Once we learned about these ways of interaction, the oral culture started to phase out and written culture became the new big thing. Orality didn’t disappear though. The cultures blended together and we began to do a bit of both. With the digital culture that we are moving into today, that blend isn’t really occurring. I am seeing that more and more people are completely throwing away old methods of communication. Many schools have gotten rid of handwritten assignments, not only to save paper but because more often we will type instead of write. Others operate solely online, eliminating that human interaction. This idea is trickling down to the younger generations and presenting us with decisions to make about the future. Should we be so reliant on these new technologies so early in their implementation?
In Sherry Turkle’s book, Alone Together, she discusses how technology is changing the way that we interact with each other. Although it helps us connect with people that we can not see or touch, it is distancing us from the people nearby and creating a barrier that cannot be easily broken. Everyday people that are using technology often overlook everything and everyone around them in order to be more productive. For example, think about the last time that you sat down and had dinner with your family without the use of cell phones at the table. Most of us are either playing games, sending work emails, or just checking the news. In today’s society, living room dinners are the social norm.
Some people say that this is just a problem with the current generation, that millenials are choosing their high school crushes and friends over their families. Although this generation is receiving technology at early ages, I don’t believe that this is solely their fault. They aren’t the ones that are buying these devices and choosing to use them. We are all victims of this recent trend. We are not talking to, but messaging our significant others, fellow students, and even professors. College students no longer utilize office hours or talk to their professors face-to-face but instead just send emails. The common reason is that it takes less time, which is true, but most people are losing that human-to-human connection.
Contrary to belief, most children nowadays are actually against the use of technology because their parents are using it as a digital leash to control them. One example that Turkle used involved this very scenario. A majority of boys asked between ages 9 and 13 would prefer to not take their cell phone with them because their mothers would be intrusive and “annoying”. At that age when life is simple and all you just want to play video games and dark tag, I can understand where they are coming from. I didn’t recieve my first cell phone until I was thirteen, and I was so introverted that I was against getting it at first. Who would I text and who would text me? Kids are almost being forced to carry technology because it is normal in this day and age.
Even though this isn’t a problem that needs to be solved immediately, it is certainly changing us as individuals and requires some attention. This is just a small fraction of what is changing due to technology, as many different fields are being impacted. Before we decide that relationships should be dictated by binary code and electrical signals, we should realize if we as humans should choose productivity over genuine relationships.