Its everywhere: The use of technology.

As our technology progresses and advances, the use of IT gadgets and cyberspace have became part of our essential tools for communication. We often find ourselves engaging in all sorts of online social networking activities such as facebook, twitter, instant messaging, emails and blogs. Adding on to that, we are immersing in our smart phones, smsing or whatsapp-ing whenever we could; especially when we are bored.

In this article(http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2011/jan/22/social-networking-cyber-scepticism-twitter), a rising number of academics say Twitter and Facebook don’t connect people – they isolate them from reality. One such academic, Turkle, views that technology is threatening to dominate our lives and make us less human. Under the illusion of allowing us to communicate better, it is actually isolating us from real human interactions in a cyber-reality that is a poor imitation of the real world. However, defenders say theirs is just a different form of communication that people might have trouble getting used to. Also, the defenders pointed out that emails, Twitter and Facebook have led to more communication, not less – especially for people who may have trouble meeting in the real world because of great distance or social difference.

Both parties have different forms of perceptions toward this issue. Perhaps its how they have experience such communication through the society thus influence their selection in the perception process. In Turkle’s case, she had been at funerals where people checked their iPhones. Compared to the past, where people gathered in such event to have one last opportunity to view the deceased and say good-bye without engrossing in their phones. Such action contradicts with the normal script and is interpreted as disrespect for the dead and the immediate family by Turkle. Same goes for such contradicting actions of being occupied using the phones during a meal or a gathering; which beat the purpose of catching up where people are supposed to talk to each other. In which leads her to the perception of that technology is dominating our lives and make us less human.

On the other hand, one of the defenders, Kist noted that before everyone travelled on the bus or train with their heads buried in an iPad or a smart phone, they usually just travelled in silence. This is the normal script in the train where we did not see people spontaneously talking to strangers; we were just keeping to ourselves. Also, such technology as emails, Twitter and Facebook compared to mailing helps people to communicate better cross the world as one could get their message across to the other half of the world within seconds. From here, the defenders see the use of such technology does not contradict with the normal norm in our lives and also improves on it. Thus, leads to their perception that technology is a different form of communication which helps us communicates better.

Both sides have their own reasons; neither is wrong. However each side tend to oversimplificaton where they concentrates on a single aspect of the problem while disregarding others.

From my point of view, I agree with the defenders where such activities are considered as a form of communication. From social networking sites, we create conversations, events and get information about others (such as what is on their mind) and with those we make a respond. Thus, through the use of technology, we are communicating with each other non-verbally. I too, agreed with Turkle that technology is threatening to dominate our lives and make us less human. Many of us are spending too much time on our gadgets and are over-doing it. As such, during a meal, none are talking to each other across the table and were engrossing in their own phones, have become something that freaks people out(including me). It feel like we are isolating each other in the real world.

Perphaps for some of us, sitting face to face with a computer/phone, feel safe and are able to express more freely than having a verbal face to face interaction. Granted there are others who are exceptions; being more expressive in the reality. However, the down side of such communication is that we could no longer see the other reactions when conversing; lack of the physical/human interactions. Many of such times, through the use of words and typos, we have to read within the lines to perceive how the other party felt. Sometimes this could lead to misunderstandings as people tend to perceive things differently.

The use of technology is a form of communication and is useful to a certain extend. Nevertheless, we should restrict the amount of time we spent on such online social networking and should hang out together more often.

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11 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Ting Yu
    Sep 21, 2011 @ 07:09:01

    I personally feels that though technology has made our life so much more convenient, it has also in a way affected our morality. For instance, the existence of mobile devices have lead us to unhealthy habits. Examples, we are more likely to be late because we can simply just text the other party though the phone. But if we did not have any means of contacting the other party before meeting them, we will be putting in more efforts in being punctual.
    In conclusion, I think schools should start implementing new morals for our younger generations to learn so they can be a much more responsible adults in this world surrounded by technology.

    Reply

  2. Lynn Qee
    Sep 21, 2011 @ 08:52:16

    I agree with both arguments by Turkle and Kist, where Turkle pointed out that people are getting less able to relate to people face to face and where Kirt on the other hand defends social networking devices as it brings people from two ends of the world together.

    I agree with two writers as there are different perspectives to this issue, in my opinion it is a matter of degree of impact or benefits social networking devices bring to humans.

    On the negative side, it does affect people’s relational ability, people who uses networking devices and texting may tend to be less able to relate to people efficiently face to face, they probably would be better at words. I recall several years reading an article on an observation conducted on a group of Japanese children who uses text messaging regularly. The result of the observation was, they are less able to relate or socialize to people efficiently and they tend to be more reserved and do not like to relate to people face to face and may not be able to communicate verbally as well as the group of children who do not use text messaging that often.

    On the flipside, there are benefits to of social networking devices. It brings people on both ends of the world together, to exchange information, conversations and ideas.
    Like what You Yi pointed out, people are unable to see the body language and expression of the other person whom they are conversing with online, thus there may be high possibilities of conflicts and misunderstandings.

    In my personal opinion, social networking devices may work better with people who are on different ends of the world or people who do not meet regularly. But it may not work as well for people in close proximity as it decreases our ability to converse verbally to people.

    Reply

  3. Wanci
    Sep 21, 2011 @ 09:43:00

    The way you support the both parties are relatively clear. Its a fact that it’s rude to be engross in cell phones when you’re at a funeral & also that we can’t survive without technology in these modern era. I personally feel that it’s alright to be technology- inclined, it speeds up our daily life & it get our messages passed in a very efficient way. The only thing I think is we should exercise self-control? Know when & when not to be focusing on our gadgets. Verbal face to face conversations could be healthy at times.

    Reply

  4. Kat
    Sep 21, 2011 @ 10:04:46

    Take note that technology has not only affected our lives on a personal level, but it has transcended into our career/working/education life aspects as well.
    We have ignored the fact that the society has been actively implementing technology into our lives – what’s with the e-learning, online homework assignments as soon as we start schooling.

    We are encouraged to use technology, for there is a strong (almost blinding)
    mindset that technology makes everyone more efficient and informative.

    Now, (arguably) everyone believe that technology saves time and effort for someone to be informed/get information, anytime, anywhere.

    What we have neglected is this self-induced PARANOIA that technology has brought about to our lives.

    Ask yourself this question – When was the last time you switch off your handphone/computer, and not mulling over thoughts that your boss/colleagues might be frantically contacting you for a sudden work emergency?

    Now, the convenience of reaching someone (anytime, anywhere) has allowed companies to contact their workers for work even when office hours are long over. (e.g.: sudden meetings, projects etc).

    In response, workers kept their phones by their side ALL THE TIME…just to pacify their fears with ‘JUST-IN-CASE WORK CALLS’ reasoning.

    Now everyone is wondering why we are inseparable from our computer/phones/technology~
    They are also wondering why we are de-sensitized to the situations around us~

    But here, I’m arguing that it’s because we are too CONCERENED about our surroundings/situations (e.g. work) that we check our emails/sms-es all the time.

    So, next time when your boss decides to gift you a Blackberry, you might want to think twice before accepting it.

    *This is just my POV and is not absolute/representative of the general public’s. And of course, there are so much more to argue about. But here, I’m just pointing out a perspective that is largely left ignored when it comes to the problematic effects of technology.
    Comment long enough? Sorry if my English sucks 😛

    Reply

    • tanyouyi
      Sep 21, 2011 @ 12:43:43

      Thanks for pointing that out Kat! Yes, I agree that it was overlooked. In an argument, people tend to oversimplification and focus on a certain aspect of the problem, including me. And often a third party has to point that out. We should keep our minds open to every aspect of the problem; having a bird’s eye view instead of a worm’s eye view. Yes, I guess that workers are too uptight and are afraid that boss or client/s would contact them at any time of the day therefore they have adapted to this script of “checking their mails or phone once in every once in a while”. Before one actually pin point that they are desensitized to the situations around them, one should take a step back to look at things more clearly and to understand these workers. Don’t worry your comment definitely is long enough and your command of English is very good. Once again, thanks for providing your insights 🙂

      Reply

  5. kenneth
    Sep 22, 2011 @ 08:48:11

    There is inherently no fault with technology; it is the use of it. Technology is not at fault – people are, and with anything that involves people, moderation is key. The extremists are the ones who have caused this debate – both the over and under-use of technology. It is not sound to generalize and determine that technology is detrimental to society or what not. Rather, we need to be critical at looking at the use of it.

    Fiddling with an iPhone during a funeral is a result of such extremism. Technology being so mobile and convenient has increased the frequency in which we come into contact with it. Perhaps it is this that has resulted in the purported obsession. Technology itself, however, has not caused us to do so. One can be in full contact with technology 24/7, but if respect for the dead has been ingrained in the individual, it would override said obsession. I’m sure we do know of people who are always stuck to their phones, but can we safely say that they will definitely be playing Angry Birds during a funeral?

    The intrinsic values that are being inculcated and that children are growing up with are perhaps the more pressing, root issues. If values we consider to be good, such as, respect, love and honor, can be eroded simply by frequent use of technology, then these are not values at all – merely traits. Are we doing enough to educate and to drum these ideas into society such that they form principles and not stay as ideas?

    If anything at all, technology has potentially surfaced and exposed the failings of our moral culture. The trouble is whether we still continue to look at technology per se, or if we choose to trace it back to its root issues.

    Reply

  6. Fenfen
    Sep 23, 2011 @ 05:29:19

    No doubt technology is useful, efficient and effective ways of communication. We are often encouraged to use techology in schools and work place to make matters more convienent and increase productivity.

    However, it is good that you have pointed out that technology has desensitise us to human emotions and interactions.

    I have a classic example for you.

    Take for example, using sms or whatsapp-ing to for dates and meetups.
    In the event when a person decides to cancel the date/meetups at the very last minute, all he got to do is text.

    Remember the times when we are frantically thinking of a reason when we wanted to cancel a meetup/date in real time face-to-face, when we are punished by the other party’s feelings of rejection.

    A point to wonder: Why is it that now, when we are unable to make it, we just fish out our phones and text “Sorry I’m not free. Not coming later”. Long term, this may seems as a good way to avoid commitment, cancelling as you please. However, to the person receiving it, he will interpret as “that stuff you need to do is just more important than me”.

    With technology, it is so much easier to avoid real and true communication. I’m not saying that we should just stop using technology because it is desensitises us and many more reasons. This is just a by-product of truth in this IT-savy world.

    Technology is in the long name list titled ‘Double-edge sword’.

    Reply

    • tanyouyi
      Oct 07, 2011 @ 15:38:46

      Yeah, it does desensitized us. Through the use of technology for communication, we don’t have to face the other party’s reaction or rather feelings directly. This lessen our burdens of reacting to their reaction as we do not have to response immediately. Looking at the point that you raised, perhaps for some people, they are really really busy while others just feel that there’s no such need to call when you could sms to get the message across. However, on a second thought, perhaps texting to cancel and apologise had already became a norm in our life such that most of us are practising it unawarely. No matter in what form the rejection comes in, I feel that the person being rejected could never help thinking “that stuff you need to do is just more important than me”. Nevertheless, I agree with you that technology is a double-edge sword.

      Reply

  7. Pearl Yang
    Oct 07, 2011 @ 11:07:51

    I do agree with Kat and fenfen’s comment about the implications that technology has brought about.

    In one way, tecnhology has lead us to becoming more “bounded” to work situations, where we have more reasons to stand by for certain information. In the other way, technology has made us less responsible for our communications. A simple “I can’t make it” would be sufficient to explain why you are not going for the date.

    Somtimes I wonder, do we need to depend on technology that much? I miss the days where I could memorise my friend’s contacts and just give a call to them for a chat without the need for a reason. Now communication has become less verbal and less expressive in a way, where a call must mean something important.

    Imagine if one day everybody’s handphone was to lack the function of sms, and the only way we can contact each other are to give a call, would we feel awkward?

    Reply

    • tanyouyi
      Oct 07, 2011 @ 13:50:47

      To a certain extent there is a need to depend on technology, however, I feel that we are depending on technology a little too much. With modern technology so advance, we practically make use of it to its fullest extend; from working to gaming and communications are through the use to technology. Such as students doing group projects need not have to always meet up physically and discuss; they can discuss over the net with the use of different chat applications. And we could get our message or rather mail over to the other side of the world within seconds; life has become so much easier with the use of technology. Also, with social networking sites, uses of a mobile/smart phone and emails, technology has become an important medium that connect us all together. Take a look at what’s app for instance, it’s a platform that acts as a way of bonding between friends; where friends would chat freely and spam each other with craps instead of meeting up to catch up. Thus, I could say that technology has made our life much easier and taking away such technology would cripple us to a certain extent.
      Taking away the sms function from the mobile phone, I guess it depends on the situation and individual whether one would feel awkward or not. For me it would be slightly awkward if I call the other party without a reason as at times I would have no idea what to say; I had become too use to facing just the screen and need not to response immediately over a reply.

      Reply

  8. Melissa
    Nov 05, 2011 @ 11:05:41

    I’m actually more of the opinion that even though technology has improved our lives in terms of communications, it has definitely lowered our expectations for graciousness. I mean, it’s not an uncommon sight to see people on the train, so plugged into their music or so intent in watching their movies that they don’t notice people who need the seats more than they do. I fear that now, they get to use technology as an excuse for their ungraciousness. This shouldn’t be the case; technology should be aiding us and not holding us back. =.=

    Reply

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