By Lalit Anjum
“Technology is a queer thing. It brings you gifts with one hand, and stabs you in the back with the
other.” ― C.P. Snow, English chemist and novelist
Above quote is in sync with the impact of modern technology on each and every aspect of human
lives. Advancement in digital technology has made our life much better than the past. However this in
turn has made us addicted to digital technology as never before. Nowadays we are dependent on
sophisticated technology even for our mundane tasks. Thousands of innovations and scientific
discoveries have contributed positively to the betterment of the society & have improved our standard of living as a whole. By utilizing the service of smartphones, digital tablets, notebook laptops etc. we accomplish a full range of activities like reading digital newspapers, booking online travel tickets, shopping online and what not. We are as accustomed to these gadgets like anything.
Our addiction to digital technology can be gauzed by the fact that, the number of young people prone
to road accidents is while talking on cell phone is greater than accidents due to drunken driving. At
public places we often find adolescents and youngsters seamlessly playing with their thumbs on touch screen of their mobile devices, it seems as their thumbs have grown brains for it. This exercise is so addictive that it demands their full concentration which makes them incautious and inattentive. God forbid if somebody is dying they won’t be able to pay any heed. This clearly speaks volumes for our new-age addiction to technology and our degrading ability to reason sympathetically and decide purposefully. Absent mindedness has grown manifold in the youth.
Mental health professionals have categorised technology addiction or internet addiction in similar way like addictive disorders concerning drugs or alcohol. India’s first technology de-addiction clinic in Bangalore was launched recently in National Institute of Mental Health & Neuro-Sciences (NIMHANS) to diagnose and suggest therapy measures seeking treatment for teenagers’ obsession for social networking and instant chatting sites, texting and mobile games.
As an old saying goes, “Science is a good servant but a bad master”. Following narrative elucidates
this point. Evolution in communication technology has made access to information from manifold
sources quick and easy. This has given rise to a flood of information. Handling and processing such a
huge amount of data within a short span of time is now causing information overload. Even our
personal lives have fallen victim to the adverse effects this phenomenon. We are addicted to checking
our emails frequently, updating our online profiles repeatedly and browsing World Wide Web
aimlessly, thus wasting our precious time and energy.
Internet revolution has also contributed to this problem. Every day we see numerous software
applications being developed and shared on internet. WhatsApp, Facebook are the best examples of
software applications that are continuously intruding our privacy. Whether we are at home or at
office, each WhatsApp ping frequently disturbs our concentration towards work. Digital disturbance
is a nuisance in our present day lives. Our lives are no longer ours. Each and every like on our virtual social networking profile has a global reach. The frequent notifications we receive in our inbox with never ending spams makes us vulnerable to cyber-crime. Adding to this nuisance is the new irritant called Selfie. Frequent uploading of selfies is regarded as a mental disorder. Often Selfie taken at awkward moments and at unusual places have left several people embarrassed in their real lives. This often causes development of suicidal or homicidal tendencies among youngsters. Recently the Russian government has issued the guidelines (do and don’t) for taking a Selfie in public places meant for the young people especially.
In the present times mobile devices have made 24×7 access to the virtual world possible. Tracing
foreign places online, seeing a distant relative or friend is done using virtual reality. Furthermore
accepting virtual reality as an alternative to real world has triggered a negative behavioural shift in the GenX. Digital addiction has raised the problems of loneliness and suicides among youth. Biggest
culprit of this phenomenon is so called Social Networking websites, in which there is nothing social
about it. We see kids and adolescents always playing with their hand-held mobile gadgets every now
and then. Real social networking, teambuilding exercises and playing outdoors are becoming things of
the past. Shrinking physical space has also added to this turmoil. Google Maps Street View is the new
addition to this monkey business of virtual reality. Young people are easily caught up in this crossfire.
Being young & vulnerable, they are prone to fall in this honey trap.
They are born and brought up in this environment where information bombardment is happening to
them from all directions. They are gathering inputs from all sides and in enormous amounts, thanks to
their portable high-end gadgets. We observe that youngsters are more comfortable in handling digital
technology than their parents and elders. New expensive gadgets with enhanced features are entering the market every single day. The multinational corporations (MNCs) are developing innovative products for targeted buyers. Their main target is hi-end sections of the society. Therefore costly devices are seen as a kind of Status Symbol. Often these devices are projected as a fashion statement and a “must buy thing”. However regarding their functional utility, all devices are one at the same.
Lucrative advertisements and attractive schemes are often engineered for particular age group. Blame
also lies on the Advertisement Agencies for misleading the public sentiments.
Therefore to check this epidemic of digital addiction in our society, we have to apply the ointment called Restraint and educate our young children about the golden rule of self-control. With this initiative we can successfully impart the much needed moral values into our youngsters, who are often delusioned by the glittering advertising campaigns and false promises made by MNCs. This chain of modern day slavery of gadgets is to be broken once for all in the interest of GenX. Now is the time to regain control of our lives and come out of this virtual world into the world of actual reality which holds wonderful surprises and plentiful opportunities.
(Author is M.Tech, BE,Independent Researcher and his field of interest lays in Renewable Energy technologies including Wind Resource Assessment, Solar Photovoltaic and others green technologies)
(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed within this article are the personal opinions of the author)