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Addiction and Toxic Tech

by Kerry Dawson

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As I’ve discussed in a previous article, the tech revolution started basically during the second world war and has gone through different iterations to get where we’re at. The promise of what is now a global evolution is beginning to show an uglier side to what had been a very promising and hopeful outcome.

In the article “Tech and our Future or the redefining of a Society” I outline three stages of this development that we have seen so far the most powerful being the current phase we’re in. This phase empowers the user to use the local, personal and unencumbered devices to achieve goals far more quickly. The potential for a positive outcome is so great, people ran with this and justified the means as the end. However, this whole liberating mechanism is far more complicated than was at first touted.

With the Great Positives Achieved, we Were Missing the Negatives

The positive outcomes of the information revolution are far too many to mention here. It is all well documented. We are part of a complete new reality evolving in front of us. With these demonstrable outcomes, some of the very serious questions that needed to be posed or asked just weren’t. A tremendous amount has been given to us and although we have been more than delighted to take these outcomes to justify systems expenditures certain aspects of the information revolution were flying just under the radar.

More and more though these ugly questions are being asked as it is too in your face the potential for change that could very well work against us. It is important that these questions get asked. In many ways, the information revolution is far bigger than the industrial revolution. It too had negative consequences until we recognized problems and applied soutions

Power to the Masses

A key fundamental of the third wave is the decentralization of computer systems. Further, we have established an Open Internet that connects all us for the fluid flow of information. However, the question must be asked who is controlling the quality of the information and how is being applied.

The old expression of garbage in produces garbage out is never more poignant in this moment. We read something and think it’s the gospel. Could we function without the internet. Not really as our whole supply chain for product is managed that way now a long with numerous other things.

However, when you see or hear that people are texting each other when a phone call would be so much more efficient one has to wonder are we loosing certain key, critical socializing skills we’ve relied on for a long time.

Addiction, Spending and Social Costs

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In South Korea they were the first to notice that people were actually truly getting addicted to gaming and other aspects of their tech gadgets. Addiction to tech is commonly accepted now as a phonomenon but the treatment of any addiction is difficult. It is very problematic to treat someone with tech addiction. The rule of thumb with any addiction is abstinence. However, society now functions on tech and you have to be able to use technology to fully function in society now.

Addiction though comes with many costs:

  • spending on the products
  • sleeplessness
  • isolating behaviour
  • social costs
    • family breakups
    • friendships

It is difficult to know how to deal with a problem such as this. You could try to curtail your use of these devices beyond the necessary. Consciously knowing that you are buying a product for the sake of a rush would be essential but again hard to control. However, without some kind of means of addressing the problems a person might isolate, damage social relationships and end up in financial hardship.

The problem is not being helped either by our obsession collectively in society. Much of the info we receive encourages spending and use and further spending but the gains sometimes are nebulous at best.

If you go to the tech sections of Youtube it is easy to see how the situation is becoming so exacerbatted. The Youtubers presentation of tech is concerning. Their experience and knowledge level is not well outlined and often they promote ideas that feeds into the whole problem. The information you get might be what you’re looking for but is it good information or does it just promote tech toys and them.

The Youtubers Obsession with Trivia

If you were to watch a lot of the Youtubers over time it becomes questionable the value of what is being presented. There is also this glorification of or obsession with meaningless benchmarks and trivia which encourages the problems of good use of the tech. When video after video constantly analyzes how good the cameras are between Smartphones it also encourages needless spending on the next Smartphone with the best camera.

Generally, all of today’s Smartphones are fast and have good cameras. What to use depends on what you need to accomplish, the software or applications you’re using, the design being personal and how beneficial any of this is to what is needed or you’re trying to accomplish.

All Pervasive wherein One Might Ask where is our Privacy

A final significant area of concern has to do with privacy or how information can be used in useful ways or detrimental ways. Privacy has become a significant area of discussion due to the pervasive aspects of our tech.

With our privacy breached, advertisers are and can hone advertisements geared for us encouraging inappropriate behaviour, spending or use. Political and social norms can be affected and even put to the wayside.

Tech can be useful but it can be detrimental. We need to look at the whole area objectively but at least ask hard but relevant questions.

I heard someone say now that the genie has been released we can’t put it back in the bottle. This is so true especially as tech is much more than a cultural phenomena but is absolutely a part of the fabric of our society. Knowing these things can at least allow us to ask very tough questions and hopefully deal with some of the problems we are only beginning to recognize as tech becomes ever so much more a part of societal function.

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