Is Technology Ruining Society?

Photo credit: © MinneSeoul

This is something I think of from time to time.  There used to be a time when I could remember and dial a friend’s telephone number directly from memory.  In fact, I still remember many phone numbers from my days growing up in NY, and it has been 14 years since I left there.  The problem I have is that while I can remember those numbers–probably because I had to memorize them back then–I cannot for the life of me remember any phone numbers of the people I have met in recent years!  At least I know, and can admit, that it’s due to having a cell phone which stores everything and enables me to not have to think of it much.  But it’s not just about phone numbers…

 

Many people are pointing to technology as a cause of childhood obesity.  More and more studies are being done on the issue, and the common result is an increase in this trend.  The most common causes are typically television and video games, which have replaced playing sports or running around outside with fiends as the prevalent after-school activities for many children.  For adults, the accused culprits are different yet the same, for example people spending more time driving and less time walking or biking to reach their destinations, or more time catching up on the DVR than exercising. 

 

Have you ever noticed that some people are constantly on social networking sites and have tons of “friends” or followers, yet you never see them out?  Or how about people that check into every single friggin’ place they go without fail?  I have actually seen one such instance where someone I know checked into an exit off of I-95!  I kid you not.  There seem to be an increasing number of people who cannot do anything without tweeting or checking in or posting about it.  

 

 

It just seems to me that sometimes technology causes people to lose a bit of–I don’t even know what to call it–brainpower for lack of a better term.  The culture of immediate response had led to something that troubles me very much.  I have noticed that many people, particularly the younger generations simply cannot spell or speak correctly.  Even when they aren’t using text messaging or Twitter which creates the need to truncate complete thoughts into bit here and pieces there, there is still something off.  If you look at Facebook, where people have the ability to, and often times do write long status updates, how many do you see that are rife with spelling errors, use of the wrong tense, misuse of words and other communication basics that should have been mastered in elementary or junior high school.

 

Have you every noticed how some people online seem to be so open and opinionated, yet when you are in an actual social setting, they are as lively as trees?  It’s like when they step away from the keyboard, they step into this bubble of social awkwardness.

 

Then, on the other end of the spectrum, you have those who seem to have no sense of self, or shame.  Everything they have is due in some part (most likely a large part) to technology.  The nobody who becomes famous because of a sex tape that was “leaked” onto the internet.  The idiot who does stupid things and posts to YouTube getting a following of other slacker-types and parlays that into a reality-tv show.   The completely moronic comments by the self-promoter (yes, you Money Mayweather!) and  other self-control lacking fools who take to social media to boost their visibility.

 

It may just be the way in which the world is evolving, with technological advances being demanded and pushed by both consumers and manufacturers respectively.  It may also be simply the meandering of a part-time cynic.  But, don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge proponent of technology.  I am in favor of anything that makes life easier, as long as it isn’t taken so far as to remove the importance of maintaining mental ability and basic things such as interpersonal communication and basic reasoning.

 

What are your thoughts?  Do you feel that people are becoming too technologically dependent?  Is the proliferation of technological advances impairing peoples’ general ability to maintain a healthy lifestyle?  Are some people just idiotic or attention whores to begin with while technology has simply allowed them to prove it to a wider audience?

 

  • http://twitter.com/financiallyc Hunter

    Excellent post Eric, on a very current issue. I think technology plays a role in the obesity epidemic but perhaps poor diet is a bigger factor. I agree with you completely on social communication skills though. Ther are so many other options to communicate with people now other than actually speaking with them that this skill needs attention.

    Reading this article made me fel kind of old, like I’m judging the younger generation and their lack of refinement. Every generation before us has probably felt the same way on some level. I turned 40 this week so I’ve been giving this a LOT of thought.

    Have a great weekend. Is your tax crush still on? 

    • http://www.dollarversity.com Eric J. Nisall – DollarVersity

      I felt old writing some of it, Hunter–I’ll be 35 a week after the tax deadline.  I think the nutritional side is a factor but not as important as what people choose to do in their spare time.  There are plenty of studies that show “unhealthy” foods don’t have to be such a negative if used in moderation with some sort of regular exercise.  Overall, I think a comprehensive health plan needs to be in place for kids, and in that case technology can absolutely be a huge plus.

      And yes, I’m certainly feeling the tax crush.  6 days, 50+ hours a week.  Very much looking forward to May 1 when my “slow” period begins!

  • http://www.moneybeagle.com/ Money Beagle

    I remember always knowing my friends phone numbers as well.  Now, when I get a new one, I don’t have any idea what the actual number is once I program it in my phone.  It happens.  I guess the upside is that we can use that space in our memories to remember something else that we wouldn’t have otherwise.  :)

    • http://www.dollarversity.com Eric J. Nisall – DollarVersity

      I don’t know.  I can still recall random events and people from my childhood, which makes me wonder if I’m just off in some way :-)

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_NNQTITGQC3L7GHWAKXTTBRIDVA Rachel

    Some people lose perspective when they open their mouths on the internet. They do and say things they would never do in person or even on the phone. They turn into crazy bullies and trolls.

    I think the informality of the internet encourages the use of improper grammar and slang and reduces the importance placed on communicating with proper spelling and grammar and punctuation. Unfortunately, this spills over into other forms of communication. Some of the business communications I receive are atrocious and nearly unreadable.

    • http://www.dollarversity.com Eric J. Nisall – DollarVersity

      I feel ya dawg!

      Seriously, I know exactly what you mean, Rachel.  To me, nothing tells me what I need to know about someone in a business sense than the way they hold themselves out to others, and the way they communicate.  Plus, I think when it comes to the internet, it’s almost equivalent to the “liquid courage” people get when drinking.  Hiding out behind a computer and a fake name empower many people to be idiots.

  • http://marriedwithdebt.com/ John @ MarriedWithDebt

    I really dig your opinion posts! I think people are empowered to say LESS but say it more often. So we get inundated with tweets about Lady Gaga’s freak monsters and wishing celebrities happy birthday.

    I also see a huge rise in passive aggressive behavior. It’s so easy to disrespect people in text format. 

    “Proudly Facebook free since…birth.”

    • http://www.dollarversity.com Eric J. Nisall – DollarVersity

      Thanks John!

      Especially now, when there is so much going on and not much time, I find myself thinking of odd things to write about.  It’s almost like I deal with finances and taxes so much these days, they are the last subjects I want to think-much less write-about!

      I love how people think that if they tweet a celeb or write something on their Facebook wall that they will actually get a response, and if they do (which is most likely not from that person but from a rep) they feel all special.  Some of this stuff really causes people to put on blinders and take things for more than they really are.

  • http://www.squarepennies.blogspot.com/ Maggie@SquarePennies

    When I was a substitute teacher it was obvious that a certain per centage of kids just could not spell to save their lives.  That continues through all grades and even into college.  I think there are some who just can’t learn to spell.  I don’t know the reason.  Maybe it’s something in the environment or their parents took drugs.  There doesn’t seem to be any explanation for it.

    • http://www.dollarversity.com Eric J. Nisall – DollarVersity

      I notice that too Maggie.  It’s really hard to comprehend how, even as adults, some egregious errors in spelling and grammar are made.  If it’s an issue of English being a secondary (or even tertiary)  language, it’s more plausible but not for native speakers.

  • Andy-Investorz Blog

    You have to take the bad effects of technology with the good. I’m thinking that people will eventually adapt so that the bad effects are lessened.

    • http://www.dollarversity.com Eric J. Nisall – DollarVersity

      Either that, or technology is just making it easier for people to be lazy and will accentuate the negative issues.  I’m definitely hoping for your proposal rather than mine!

  • http://www.smartwealth.org/ Evan @ Smartwealth

    I think technology is bad for society in a sense that our technology is getting better too quickly.  I really believe that technology has a hand in our last economic downfall.  Better technology at plants means machines can do the jobs that humans once did, and they can do it better (less error).  Remember CDs? I used to have a huge collection, now I only listen to music digitally. 

    Technology is great, but sometimes I feel that it is getting better too quickly for our own good.   

    • http://www.dollarversity.com Eric J. Nisall – DollarVersity

      What about the minidisc, Evan?  Remember how that was going to be the new music platform?  Technology evolved so quickly that they were obsolete before being marketed. 

  • http://www.oddcents.com/ Dannielle @ Odd Cents

    Yes it is. We’ve become so dependent on technology, that we can not function without it. The internet, cell phones, tablets etc. are taking over the world. What concerns me though is that many people are using technology for illegal purposes and they are succeeding!

    • http://www.dollarversity.com Eric J. Nisall – DollarVersity

      I can definitely see the illegal side being a huge concern going forward.  It seems that the bad guys (and gals) are more savvy and adept at using tech wrongfully than the rest of us are at using it properly!

  • http://www.thegeezergadgetguy.com/ Thad Puckett

    I think technology is very definitely changing us, and I am not sure all of it is a positive change.  I think we need to remember the parts of us as humans that technology can do a disservice to are the parts that lesson our emotional connections.  Email connects to very few of our innate emotions–though they can make us angry, they don’t usually engage our emotions.  We have to read too much in to them.  Text messages or IMs are a bit better, because we actually can interact more like we talk –give and take, ask and get answers.  Video via Skype or Facetime?  Even better.  We can bring many more of our senses into play.

    On a different note, I have a friend who has had mlni-strokes and is using her iPad to keep track of her life.  I am working on a lengthy post about her experiences.  Very inspiring use of technology.

    • http://www.dollarversity.com Eric J. Nisall – DollarVersity

      I absolutely agree Thad, there are some technological implementations that remove the human component from communications.  I also find that it’s terribly difficult to convey tone through non-interpersonal communication.  Speaking of senses being brought into play, I can’t wait to watch the Food Network or browse the recipes on their site using some form of interactive “smellivision”!

  • Slackerjo

    i find the free support that comes with technology just leads to learned helplessness.  People never want to figure stuff out anymore because they can call a 1 800 # anytime and have someone teach them something they could have learned by reading the manual or googling. But no. So I think tech support is ruining society, not technology.

    • http://www.dollarversity.com Eric J. Nisall – DollarVersity

      I’m not so sure about the support leading to “learned helplessness”.  For starters, if you don’t know what you are doing, you can cause irreparable damage to tech items.  Secondly, if it’s not information that will be used multiple times, it may just make more sense to have someone fix the problem than to spend the time searching, reading and learning something.  It’s not a bad thing to forego doing something on your own if someone else can do it more proficiently, especially if you can spend that saved time doing things that you enjoy or that enrich your life more.

  • jim

    Technology is being pushed on us and it is sinister. It eas pushed on me. I went and bought it. It was pushed on me! No I went and got help to purchase it. But it is being pushed on me. And it is sinister how I don’t blame me because I am afraid of it. So I bought it to look it dead in the eye.)

    And now I am brain scrambled. I went and paid a lot to brain scramble myself unaware because I didn’t know cellphone technology was so sinister and pushed on us by evil people by making me make me buy it to look it dead in the eye. I bought it and used it enough. Way
    too much and I am mentally programed to be their lab rat.

  • Ed Shneebly

    I think that the push for technological advances in how we communicate through technology should progress, but at the same time also keep up with how to PROPERLY communicate with face to face interaction. It makes me sad seeing people so attached to their iphones and twitter accounts, it’s ridiculous. I long for the “old days” when you had to call someone on the phone to talk to them, not just send a text message. People are losing sight of how things were.

    The world today is all about advancement and power and this now FAST! People need to get over how fast they can communicate with someone just because they have great reception with a thousand dollar phone, and at least think about what life would be like without the advances we have today. I feel as though three out of five people would rather look at their phones around a campfire rather than sing a song with a guitar. Just a thought, that is sad. Cherish chivalry, patience, and friendship. Don’t depend on being happy by using a smart phone.