There are very few (if any) areas of our daily lives that aren’t influenced by technology. Even with its downsides, this pervasive element has become one of the world’s best tools and we’re very fortunate that it surrounds us.
An interesting facet of technology’s pervasiveness is its ability to change our perspectives on the world around us. The way we think and interact with others often involves some technological component, even if we don’t always realize it.
Understanding this change in perspective can help you think more critically and positively. It can help you be more decisive and productive, leading to greater opportunities throughout your lifetime.
Automation Is a Normal Part of Society
We’re no longer surprised to see a driverless Google car moving down the street or a kiosk taking our order at Burger King. That’s because automation is everywhere, and it’s seamlessly inserted itself into society.
Automation comes in many forms in the business realm, from chatbots that handle automated phone calls to social media automation tools like Plixi. Businesses can save infinite amounts of time and money with the help of the right automation tools, and it’s changing the way that they market their companies and even work with their staff.
Individuals have come to expect automation in many different situations as well. It’s not uncommon for a consumer to become annoyed when you have to talk to a real person because the online portal or automated phone service wasn’t working properly. When automation is always around you, why would you expect anything different?
Social Media Changes Opinions
More than two billion people are actively using social media every single day, a number that’s risen significantly over the last five years. Facebook and Instagram are the world leaders in this category, providing users a special “social” connection with others. This does not necessarily destroy face-to-face interactions, as there are still plenty of opportunities to seek the human element. However, it does take up a good amount of a person’s day.
It’s often the first place that people go for news, especially the millennial generation and younger. The problem is that news published on social media is often biased and factually incorrect. Almost anyone can publish content online, and you can’t always trust the source. However, many consumers don’t realize it when they see it.
It’s true that individuals have the ability to make their own decisions regarding a certain topic or issue, but when they’re constantly bombarded with information from both sides, it’s difficult to come up with you own opinion—it’s much easier to go with the flow.
Communication Usually Involves Screens
How many times have you heard someone, particularly those under 35 years of age, say that they wish people would text them instead of calling them? Many people find it much easier to text than call. Oftentimes, they also say things that they wouldn’t normally say if they were talking to you face-to-face. It’s much easier to hide behind a screen and avoid awkward situations or confrontations, after all.
In the business realm, call centers are not nearly as important as they once were for customer service because the preferred mode of communication between consumers and businesses usually comes with a screen.
Studies have shown that a preferred method of business communication among consumers is live, online chat. They like the ability to type out their questions and get nearly instantaneous answers without having to call someone on the phone. It puts a new perspective on the way businesses and consumers interact.
We’re in Constant Need of Entertainment.
It’s hard for individuals to simply sit and enjoy the world around them. Mindfulness is something that has to be taught in classes because it’s often not a natural inclination for this fast-moving world that begs entertainment every spare minute.
Certain arts that everyone once knew are dying out. No one in the younger generations sits around and knits anymore, few people play the piano, and other mindless activities are passed over for mentally-stimulating undertakings.
If one does participate in a mindless activity, they can’t be left alone with their thoughts to do it. They must watch television or listen to music alongside it. Even everyday acts like doing the dishes can’t be done without an audiobook or movie playing in the background.
A lot of this has to do with our cell phones. Smartphones present every aspect of entertainment we could hope for, and there’s never a reason to be bored with that little device in your hand. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it can cause people to miss out on the perks of quiet introspection and reflection.
Changes in Focus Starts Young
There are advantages and disadvantages to the way that technology impacts us, and it starts at a very young age. In some cases, it can change the way that children (who will grow up to be adults) focus for the worse; in other cases, it will change it for the better.
The biggest influence in children perspectives is their attention span. This is strongly influenced by the technology they see on a daily basis, and the results aren’t usually positive.
“Children’s immediate environment determines the kind of attention that they develop,” writes Jim Taylor, Ph.D. “The advent of television altered that attention by offering children visual stimuli, fragmented attention, and little need for imagination. Then the Internet was invented and children were thrust into a vastly different environment in which, because distraction is the norm, consistent attention is impossible, imagination is unnecessary, and memory is inhibited.”
This constant influence has resulted in a generation that has a difficult time waiting for anything. Their screens have always presented them with instant gratification before, so why should they have to wait now?
On the other hand, Dr. Taylor points out that the constant intake of content on the web can lead to better reading comprehension and memory. Video games can also improve reaction times and visual-spatial capabilities, which are both important for human development.
Technology has, does, and will change the way we see the world, and there’s nothing that can be done to stop it. Whether or not technology ultimately impacts us for good or bad remains to be seen, and it’s something that we should always be cognizant of to prevent it taking over our minds and actions.