Keeping 2020 aside, it will not be incorrect to say that our lives on planet earth has improved in so many ways. On average, we are healthier, more literate and affluent, less violent and live longer than our ancestors. However, despite these upliftments, we are sinking in this emerging crises – one that is not talked about enough. This is the crises of human brain – a crises of our minds.
The ubiquity of information technology has made it extremely difficult for our brains to keep the steps with the rapid changes in our environment. The crises of the mind is not demarcated by a lack of knowledge, information, or skills, for we have done an amazing job in accruing those and passing them to the millennia. Instead, it is a crisis at the core of what makes us human.
Where Is The Crises?
Memory, perception, attention, imagination, creativity, reasoning, decision making, and empathy, emotion, aggression regulation, compassion, and wisdom – this is where the crises exists. We have been the real witnesses to the technology advances that have taken place in the last decade or so. Our generation has seen the most drastic jumps and these inventions have surely altered the way we perceive the world. Not to forget, it has deeply impacted the way our brains is tweaked to receive and process information.
So attached we have become to our smartphones, tablets and the newest social media platforms, that now the next seat we reserve is for our phones. According to Lavanya Jain, a Psychology Teacher – Amity International School, Delhi, “We share a very intimate relation with our smartphone, so much so that we tuck it under our pillows when sleeping at night.”
This inexplicable bond between us and our beloved smartphone is worrisome. According to a survey conducted by GALLUP, nearly half of the smartphone users in the United States of America check their devices several times an hour or more frequently. What is astonishing is that 11% of this population checks their phone every few minutes and 41% who check it a few times an hour. Another 20% of Americans claim to check their phones about once an hour, leaving 28% who check them less frequently.
The Positive Side
No doubt technology has made us a lot smarter. If we may say so, then smartphones and related technology has revolutionized society in less than a decade. With more than 1 billion users worldwide and 2.5 million apps, we literally have the world on our finger tips. In a survey by Compete, a web analytics firm, it was noted that 65% of the smartphone users used their devices to read news feeds, post status updates and photos. Businesses have also altered their marketing strategy and are now turning digital to reach to their target audience. It has also given budding entrepreneurs a chance to culminate their ideas into potential future success.
Apart from making us virtually stronger and improving communications, technology has now become an integral part of every student’s life. Internet together with technical advancements – prove to be an excellent channel to provide education services. Technologies such as Smartboards, Apple TVs, document cameras, and even 3D printers are now incorporated into educational lessons to boost collaboration and engage students in the learning process. ‘
It, also in a way, helps in reducing stress in busy work life as it provide a means to interact with friends and families as an when they get time. We use the benefits of AI while planning our travels—searching for flights, with booking hotels and cool destinations to explore.
Technology has also given us smart cars and smart machineries. With the right combination of reinforcement learning with computer vision, we now have self-driven cars and vehicles that are chargeable.
The questions that still remain are, “how does technology affect the environment? How does it affect the mental health of an individual?
Blurring of cultural norms and individual behaviors
We have become addicts. Technology has diminished our social and personal relations. It’s slowly turning us into machines. Before the flood of smartphones, tablets and other devices, the average person had an attention span of about 12 seconds. Now it’s believed that we can only concentrate for about 8 seconds on average before moving on to something else. A single pop up on the phonedwindlesour ability to focus on a task as per the researchers at Florida State University.
Again, millennials have a zero tolerance for boredom. In any given circumstance, it’s an inevitable truth. Constantly hooked to our devices, there is no desire for extending the world beyond the “smartphone world.” This also has a downright impact on creativity as it subdues the imagination to run in different directions.
The worst part, we now seek approval from the world unknown. We are constantly putting pictures and videos on Instagram and TikTok for appreciation, and when we don’t get that, the feeling of dejection is overwhelming.
In this this brave new world in which individuals essentially stay in constant touch with the world through their handheld devices, it is not wrong to say that they are disconnected with the reality of life.
It would also not be incorrect to say that it does prove to be a free medium of expression in a world controlled by the masterplans of the lawmakers. But, because of the time spent in understanding and processing technology, we have distanced ourselves from real humans, people we know. Our free time is either spent on Instagram checking the humungous collection of IGTV stories or hoping to get a heart from our crush, Instagrammer or even a celebrity.
When this hunger is not fulfilled, the mind starts questioning its own self. This process of web-spinning spirals a cloud of negative thoughts, thus affecting our mental health and well-being.
Let’s not be forgetful
While technology has its own positives and negatives, the best way to move forward is to lead a balanced life while mitigating the drawbacks technology has brought with it. The first step forward is to make a conscious effort to keep our mobile devices away for a few hours each day. Practicing mindfulness, yoga and meditation will also help us live in the moment.