Technology is changing the way we do things and it is not always for the better.
The introduction of television, computer and mobile phones to every day life has revolutionized the way we connect with one another. Speaking with a neighbor has been replaced with scrolling on a feed. Speeches in Free Speech Alley have become lengthy posts on Facebook. The world has changed and we are leaving some ways of life behind.
Social capital is a term coined by Harvard University’s Robert Putnam in his book “Bowling Alone” to describe the value members in communities and social networks gain. Putnam researched over 500,000 respondents and found that the introduction of television has contributed to a decline in social capital as a whole. People are less likely to be members of social organizations, participate in community service work, meet with friends, sign petitions or socialize with family.
I am sure the introduction of social media and cell phones has only worsened this phenomenon. Concerts and music festivals are the perfect places to witness this. A sea of phone screens dots the crowds at concerts as recording the moment becomes more important than living in it. We are disconnecting with the people around us the more we connect with those online.
Technology’s impact is not limited to our social well being as it negatively affects our health as well.
Cell phones and video games are often criticized for their adverse health effects. Excessive use can cause problems relating to posture and eye health. The Vision Council conducted a study showing the harmful effects of screens on our eyes. The overuse of video games can cause arthritis, carpal tunnel and muscle or joint problems.
Mobile phones have far worse potential health concerns. Recent studies from the National Cancer Institute have even shown a concern that cell phones and radio frequency radiation may cause cancer. Such a dramatic discovery must be viewed with caution but the issue is frightening nonetheless. Keeping a cautious outlook on technology is essential as the world continues to progress.
Our world is rapidly changing and adapting to a more technologically advanced future. Our society needs to ensure we stay in touch with our communities and the things that make us human. Social interactions are the glue that holds polite society together.
Our society is more divisive than it has been in a long time and I believe the rise of social media, video games, and mobile phones play a part. Check-in with your neighbor and go attend an organization’s meeting.
Interacting with those around you and staying off your phone won’t just improve your health it’ll improve our society.
Cory Koch is a 20-year-old political science junior from Alexandria, Louisiana.