Asst. Prof., Dept. of History, St. Joseph’s College, Jakhama
Have you ever wanted to return to a life without 21st century technology? Have you ever thought about returning to nature like William Wordsworth, John Keats and Robert Frost? I believe many people will prefer the 21st century technological age because of its manifold benefits and advantages. Technology did not just miraculously happen; technological advancement happened because of a need or want. Technology is being implemented in almost every section of our lives so embracing it and learning how to use technology in whatever we do is very important. But one must not forget to find a balance of how we integrate technology in our lives. Technology has been and will continuously have a growing and enduring impact on our lives.
Technology helps in business world, in human relations, it keeps us productive, content and connected, and it educates and connects the world in a much faster way and not forgetting that it makes life much easier. Given the growing importance of technology in our lives, however, what not many people realize is that it has affected and continues to affect society and people in general in many negative ways. Excessive use of technology can hamper us in many ways. But in a 21st century high-tech era we cannot avoid or imagine our life without technology or shun the use of technology. As a result, the best way to maintain the balance is by not taking away the technology but by reducing our dependence on technology. Technology should not be used to do what can be done without it. Walking a short distance instead of driving is an example.
In our present generation we find many people especially youngsters misusing/abusing technology. The types of technology mostly used by youngsters are cell phones, internet, video games, social networking sites etc. Regular or excessive use of technology can hamper our health in many ways- insomnia, obesity, hearing problems, diminished eyesight, headaches and dizziness, stress etc. Reading for pleasure, which has declined among young people in recent decades, enhances thinking and engages imagination in a way that visual media like video games and television do not. Due to digitalization of everything, our handwriting has become poor and slangs rule our language. Young generation need to know and understand the risk of sharing the information over the internet or social media. The craze and dangers of taking selfies in the risky area or unusual spots is a growing fad among youngsters and it is turning out to be a life-threatening trend. Technology is making children older. They are learning and watching the things those were not possible to watch few decades ago. This is how technology is affecting our youth negatively.
The dependence of children on technology must be reduced as it can have a negative effect on children’s social skills besides health hazards. Children cannot develop social skills such as greetings, listening, reading social clues, appropriate eye contact, controlling emotions and temper, developing empathy for others through technology. A child that has always had only a toy and no other child to play with lack the ability to interact with other children and as a result they cannot fully function and mature in a healthy way.
Technology has enabled us to communicate when communication would otherwise not be possible but it has also limited our ability to socialize and communicate with people face to face. Instead of having quality family time or focusing more on family, we see people sitting at computers or phones or watching television which is one on one interaction with someone who is not really there or something that cannot give any kind of emotion or response in return. We are searching for friends on the internet but we don’t know about our neighbours and their problems. We are sharing thousands of motivational and life quotes on the internet but hardly is we taking care of the human and environmental problems.
Today we often find people constantly immersed in technological advancements that promote nonstop communication and instant gratification, whether through cell phones, gaming system, laptop or MP3/MP4 player. No doubt one must make full use of the benefits of technology but excess usage will prove harmful as it can lead to isolation of individuals from reality, hinders communication and perpetuates the concept of immediate satisfaction and many more.
Society must be able to utilize technology and one must learn to embrace technology but keeping in mind its negativity, the best way will be to maintain a balance media diet i.e. to use technology responsibly and appropriately. It is extremely important to remember that there is more to life than just technology. Spending time with family and friends, appreciating the beautiful gift of nature, a meaningful conversation with the people sitting next to us, reading our favourite books, playing a sport, watching the beautiful sunset, learning new skill like playing musical instruments, cooking and gardening, discovering new places and having fun with real-life people who are close to us will add more meaning to our life.