Has technology upended the human experience?

The more we become immersed in the digital lifestyle, the more we notice the breakdown of social connections and community ties. In our most recent blog post, we discuss what kind of impact technology has had on our physical health & psychological well-being? We would love to hear what you think. Let us know your thoughts! We look forward to hearing your perspective. Let’s discuss :blush:

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I think this is something that can come down to a point of perspective to some degree, but also holds some ground regardless of perspective.

Firstly, I don’t think technology or where it’s gone is inherently bad. We’ve made incredible advances in a very rapid amount of time and I think, perhaps, got caught up in the whirlwind without taking a moment to ask not if the progress was necessary, but if we were making the right kind of progress. There’s two factors that I see contributing to this.

The first is the “capitalist” factor. Now I don’t say this as a condemnation of capitalism, or anything like that, just as a face value assessment of it’s contribution both positively and negatively. In theory such a market is designed to foster competition and ideas and drive a diverse market where products succeed or fail before the vote of the almighty dollar. Measured on ideas and interest. That’s great. Absolutely. Would be wonderful.

The problem is we don’t always see that. One idea gets done well and everyone tries to make that same idea work, but better, and outperform the person who had the original idea, and suddenly we have a market flooded with thirty different variations on one product because it was the successful one, and nobody really trying to upset that balance or provide a compelling alternative. And sure, some companies have tried, and I admire this project a lot for going the route it’s going (as someone who troubleshoots technology for a living, I’ll always speak to the benefits of keeping things simple instead of overcomplicating them, whether it’s a product or how you look at a problem).

We also run into instances where the market… plays games. One subject I’ve had to learn a lot about in my profession is social engineering, and I think it’s a fascinating concept beyond just looking at why and how people get their digital lives and technological devices compromised. I think it honestly speaks a lot to how people get compromised BY technology and those digital lives. Social media I think is a perfect example in that it’s really not that social and much more about content delivery and selling you a product over that free platform, whether that’s physical goods, digital goods, or idealogical “goods”. When I talk to people who use these platforms a lot I often find none of them really like the platform, almost always think poorly of it or the people running it, they all see the shady practices, the compromises of their privacy and mental well being… but they’ll all tell you it’s necessary because of the social features it does provide, even if that is ultimately the least impactful thing the platform does.

And it’s not that those basic social things couldn’t be accomplished another way, or a simpler way. There’s absolutely a better way to build social communities, and this technology could absolutely continue to provide a benefit to people without the toxic detractions. But from the corporate side it’s not about providing a service, at the end of the day, it’s about making money for the shareholders. That’s when we reach the problem point, I think. When it’s not about providing a good or service that benefits people, but becomes about hacking those people into using a service to generate money for someone else. It’s all about “engagement” and keeping eyes on that platform constantly to generate those dollars faster.

The second thing, and this one is a lot simpler, comes back to that idea of overcomplication. Simply put, there are a few things that in this modern world I absolutely need to have in order to be successful. I need email. I need a phone. I need something to help me schedule, or even just provide reminders to take my medication (I have ADD and Major Despressive Disorder, making sure I do this regularly and without interruption is very important to my ability to function properly). My smartphone does that for me. It provides all of these things, and that’s great!

Of course it’s also my primary media consumption device, my gaming device, my news delivery, access to multiple social platforms, linked up to my work chat, linked up to my gaming groups, linked up to my family and friend groups, and on and on and on… and I can’t exactly just put it aside and ignore it because of the more necessary things it provides. And, similar to the previous subject, even if there are tools to help me “manage” my interaction with the device I think that’s to some degree an illusion of control because, like social media, the product is designed to hack your logic. It’s designed to make you need it, want it, use it constantly. It’s designed with the INTENT that you can’t just walk away from it. Ever. Or completely mute it. Because it’s necessary. Because there might be an emergency. Because of any of a million reasons. And again, to some degree, I think we’ve been “hacked” into believing that having the one single cure-all device is supposed to be desirable. Good for us. Ideal.

And that’s where I think the conversation becomes not about “Is technology bad for us” because ultimately technology just… is. It’s advancement isn’t bad, our progress isn’t an inherent evil in our lives, but what we need to be thinking about is what progress it is that we’re making. We need to give more weight to the INTENTION behind the product or service, and our INTENTION for it. What purpose these things serve in our world, both on a personal and a global scale. Asking questions like “Do I really need a single device in my pocket that’s supposed to be the answer to all my needs and wants and problems and physically on my person at all times?” because I don’t think the answer to that is “yes”.

This might be a place where our idea of simplification needs to be less about minimizing the amount of tech in our lives, and more about minimizing what that tech does for us. More devices that do different things might be more beneficial than a single device that does them all, if only that it means I can walk away from some of it without actively punishing myself for doing so. Let my phone… be a phone. Do it’s job and do it well.

When I need a computer, I’ll get on my computer.

Just some of my thoughts on this. I tend to ramble and I could probably go on for days if I let myself.

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@John_Higginbotham Thank you so much for sharing your perspective with us. We always like hearing various viewpoints on the topics we put forth on our forum/blog. You definitely bring up interesting subjects, which are certainly worth exploring. Have you had a chance to read my blog post? I too, believe that materialism, consumerism & over-dependence on technology are linked to lower life satisfaction. And YES, while, overall, technology has proven to be largely beneficial, we now see how it can come to control our lives, more and more. Sometimes, it happens without us even knowing it.

At Mudita, we genuinely believe in value of a minimalist mindset. We let go of the things which are truly unimportant, we can then notice the undeniable benefit of living a simpler lifestyle.

Again, thank you for taking the time to write such an insightful response. We hope to hear more of your thoughts in the future.

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Thank you for an insightful article.

I can recommend this tedX talk:
Flip phone manifesto
It’s by a collage professor, great observations and a good sense of humour.

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@John_Andersson Thank you for the suggestion. I will definitely check it out.