Growing accustomed to your Facebook
The advancement of technology brings numerous benefits in society. Human achievement is measured in terms of technological innovation while downfalls such as interpersonal alienation, dependence on these tools and possible effects on mental capabilities are overlooked. Modern technology is a double-edged sword, and as it structures the development of our society, it’s becoming important to use these innovations to maximize our potential.
Historians agree that a major phase of technological innovation came from the Industrial Revolution and with it came the electric telegraph, the telephone, railroads and factories that revolutionized the textile, transport, agriculture and coal industries. This century served as the foundation for most technological advances. Our society has the history of the world at its fingertips — or wherever the nearest cell phone, tablet or laptop is charging.
With such ready access to information, we don’t need to remember as much. A study by Harvard University professor Daniel Wegner titled “Google Effects on Memory: Cognitive Consequences of Having Information at Our Fingertips,” provides evidence explaining that humans tend to remember less information when they know there are search engines. Technology is used as a secondary memory source. While the long-term effects on memory are not yet identified, it makes sense that our brains can encode, remember and learn information differently than those from the past.
After elementary school, it’s rare to see anyone doing mental math or long division if there’s a calculator around. Knowing how to spell words becomes unnecessary because of auto-correct and the Internet so long as the consonants and vowels are in the right place. Not having to do mental math frees the brain to do other tasks; but, there are limits to a person’s mental capacity when depending on a technological device.
The advent of more progressive technology presents a paradox: We’ve become virtually more connected than before because of social media, to the point that real-life interactions are becoming obsolete.
Online classes give a reason not go to class, and it’s easy and an effficient way to know what people are doing without having to contact them by using Facebook, MySpace and Tumblr. Should this trend continue, it can yield a negative effect on society because it takes humanity out of the equation. When tragedies strike around the world, posting a picture or status doesn’t help internalize the situation.
We’ve become observers behind a screen instead of active participants.
There’s no denying the effect technology has on society. It’s important to keep in mind the effects that the trend can have on our capabilities and interactions, and we should work to moderate a balance between the two.
Iman Sahnoune is a neuroscience graduate and may be reached at [email protected]