Technology, Does it Make or Break Us?
EMMA ZAWILA “Technology is destroying us.”
We’ve all heard it. None of us have avoided some form of disapproval or condemnation for technology in our society. On the contrary, we’re surrounded by innovation and excitement regarding technology and our use of it.
The question that addresses our current time period is: Does this technology really have a detrimental effect on our lives? Or is this just another fad of criticism?
Sherry Turkle, Ph.D. in Sociology and Personal Psychology, does a study on the effects of technology and our access to it. She focuses on how we suddenly have this “ability to be ‘elsewhere’ at any point in time.”
This new-found ability can provide remarkably durable connections for long distance friendships and relationships. People can stay close to each other and keep in touch more easily than before this technology was so accessible. This allows people to have relationships that they value more than convenient relationships to those around them physically.
However, this convenient technology can also take you out of your present moment. Turkle says this ability to leave the present moment allows people “to sidestop what is difficult, what is hard in a personal interaction.” Technology allows us to avoid the awkwardness and discomfort that may come with social interactions.
Turkle explains that social technology can be used to both isolate and connect people. She explains that while some people “use social networks to keep up with real friendships,” others use it to “provide the illusion of companionship without the demands of friendship, without the demands of intimacy.”
Social media can provide a sense that you are not alone and that you’ll never have to be lonely. As innocent as this sounds, it creates an emotional reliance on social media and the small aspects of it like followers and likes.
This sense of loneliness and silence can spur us to use social media to feel less lonely. Turkle warns that when people go from “‘I have a feeling, I want to make a call’” to “‘I want to have a feeling, I need to send a text,’” they begin to rely on others for emotional support and stability. These people find themselves needing validation from others, so other people within social media are used as “spare parts to support a fragile self.” These are some of the emotional downsides to social media in our hyper-connected world. However, these downsides aren’t always true. Plenty of people use social media in a healthy way that bonds them to people who are distant from them. It’s up to you to decide.