Is society too dependent on technology?

Vyshnav R. Mudipalli - Dec. 19, 2022 - 9 min read - #Culture

For a second, I want you to think about how many times you have picked up your phone to check a message, or to check what notifications you got. You might think perhaps a couple of times, but, surprisingly, humans average 58 pick-ups every day! What's more, every time it is picked up, we spend almost 2 minutes checking each notification. That is almost 2 hours every day - a horrible amount of time to spend checking notifications. At this point, we can arguably confirm that most of our society is addicted to phones. It is true that society, or humanity as a whole, has made technology a vital necessity. It was mainly created to be a want but technology itself has manipulated our innocent minds to make it essential to our lives. It is also true that technology has helped us grow over the years but it has also blinded us from seeing the harsh reality of its negative effect on our mental health, the environment and our privacy.

We have been telling ourselves fairy tales about technology being an advantage rather than a disadvantage but it is undeniable that the disadvantages of technology have severe consequences. Us humans who have created this technology are infinitely smarter, yet we let our control loose to a bunch of machines. In other words, we are so dependent on technology that we can’t even survive a day without it. Could you imagine a day without your phone, laptop or TV?

It is a fact that our day-to-day activities have been compromised by this wicked technology, as we can’t even do a simple calculation without a calculator. Think about this situation: your internet or WiFi has broken down. Most of us, or our parents, would sit down and try to fix the internet by spending hours and hours on call centres and waiting until the WiFi is back online. The thought of going out and doing some research in the library won't strike our minds given that technology has enslaved us and because we are being too optimistic about it.

TV, laptops and computers. According to the latest data from 2021, people spend an average of 6 hours and 58 minutes on these. This is an increase of 50 minutes from 2013. These statistics are horrifying to look at.

As the years go by, we are becoming more and more addicted to our phones. This clearly shows that, as technology develops, we spend more and more of our lives looking at or scrolling through the internet and social media, and yet we don’t even realize that we are losing the time for other activities like office work or family time. We neglect our day-to-day tasks just to look at a screen, suggesting that we, as humans, cannot find any other entertainment without our phones.

According to Trendhunter, 66% of the population suffers from nomophobia today. That is the phobia of not having a phone for a day. The survey was also sent out to 2,000 adults in the US, where it was discovered that the average American spends an equivalent of 44 years on screens. This can be translated into 382,652 hours and 48 minutes over the average adult lifetime of 60.7 years. That is almost 72% of our lives consumed by technology. Think about things we could have done in those precious hours: we could have spent more time with family and friends instead of looking at our phones. Some might disagree with me by saying that recording video or photos can be good thing, but you are not really living in the moment at all. You are just recording and not really enjoying the moment; this would also decrease your ability to remember that moment because you will be confident that you recorded it and forget the moment instead of making memory out of it in your head.

In addition, not only has technology led us to be dependent on it, but also it has given us tools to cause chaos online at times, as is the case with cyberbullying, hacking and ransom. All of these malicious activities are only possible because of the technology we have today. Cybercrime costs the United States' economy a reported $3.5billion each year. Globally, an estimated 30,000 websites are hacked each day. These statistics show that as humans find a darker side of technology, they gain success from others' hard work by hacking into their system and stealing their data. This doesn’t have to be your hard work, it could be your private information being leaked to the public. This can cause a person to lose their reputation and their honour in society. There is also a huge possibility that a person might overshare on a social media platform, which might be a negative thing because, not only might they lose their privacy to their personal life, but they might also feel insecure, as there is a high chance of them getting cyberbullied.

Almost 60% of teenagers have reported some sort of cyberbullying; this implies that technology’s disadvantages can have the most painful consequences in life, which might cause you harm in the future. Technology is a weapon that could be used to destroy others or yourself. For example, someone with the latest technology will try to show off their brand new model, even though they don’t actually need a new phone . Take a look at Apple, for instance. Its user base has increased from 22.71% in 2019 to 26.28% in 2022 worldwide, and this number will increase as phones become an organ that we can’t live without. This highlights the obsession of people buying a new iPhone, or a new MacBook. This ridiculous obsession of having the latest phone causes us poor humans to spend nearly a thousand, if not more, on a new phone. That might be someone's whole savings just gone by just buying a phone. Most importantly, you are trading your mental health to some big company like Apple just by buying a phone. Could you imagine the mental illness gained from this vicious device?

Furthermore, technology has not only damaged our lifestyle but it has also destroyed our precious mental health, which could affect how we behave and how we work. You may not realise this, but how would you feel when you don't have a phone? Most psychologists believe that most of the people who suffer from nomophobia deal with anxiety, depression and isolation. These are only mental issues; some physical problems like headaches can also be caused by not having a phone. When you hear the sound of your phone notification it raises your dopamine levels in our head to pick up that phone. This implies that we simply cannot resist the attraction towards them.

A survey in New York clearly states that 6 in 10 people couldn’t cope without a smartphone for a single day. This portrays how our addiction and attraction towards the smartphone has gone too far. Some might say that it is used as entertainment but phones only provide temporary entertainment. Let's be honest with ourselves, most of us can't remember a few numbers of our friends and family because we are confident that it is stored in our phones.

In addition, it is proven that smartphones cause a loss of cognitive thinking ability. This manifests itself in the form of poor concentration, weaker memory, slower information processing and it disturbs our impulse control in our neurons. These problems cause a student, for example, to perform weaker academically, and can cause their grades to go down. This might affect their life in the future because of the drop in concentration level towards their workplace could get them fired.

Some people would look at their phone and watch a YouTube video thinking it is only going to be for 2 or 3 mins, but this is often not the case. A person would spend hours at night just looking and scrolling through YouTube, and this would keep your brain awake because the rays from your phone manipulate your brain into thinking it is sunlight, which can cause difficulty in sleeping properly. This ultimately causes sleep deprivation and it can lead to a human having low energy and feeling tired most of the time. This causes behavioural issues, as it may cause lower self esteem and weak emotional judgment, as our vile phones have drained our energy. Further on, this can cause physical problems as laziness develops into obesity, as we won't have the energy to go out or go to gym.

Finally, technology doesn’t only affect humans but it also affects our beloved planet and its ecosystem. Sure, some might say that we use technology to build new sources of renewable energy but why must we have to think of this as a problem? When building renewable energy resources, it causes more pollution and we use large amounts of land which was originally owned by innocent animals and destroy their homes just to develop our technology and our need. It doesn’t only cause pollution, but it causes depletion of our natural resource for future generations.

We also destroy habitats to get metals used to build computers, phones and other electronic devices, as this causes even more pollution and, instead of reducing the effects of climate change, we are increasing it. When we buy a new phone some of us throw the old ones away and when these are burnt, toxic gases are produced, which could kill the species living nearby. This clearly shows how technology development can threaten our surroundings and can also make it even worse.

Almost $62.5 billion of electronic waste is thrown out every year. With that money we could help to solve poverty or climate change or raise our economy. You might think that most of this waste could be recycled, but in reality only 1/5 of the waste is recycled and the rest is thrown away in landfills.

Alternatively, tourism has also developed due to technology, but frequent travels have increased from 1950 to 2018 by 56% internationally, which is around 1.4 billion people travelling each year. These many trips have increased the carbon emissions over the years because of more planes, trains and cars.

In conclusion, I think that society is too dependent on technology and, because of this dependence, there are many other effects, such as to our health and to the environment around us. Technology has benefits but its negative effects have far greater consequences when compared to the advantages.