We find ourselves gifted living in technology era. Couple of centuries ago Industrial revolution changed course of people’s lives. We are in the midst of a digital revolution. A revolution history will remember as a change agent that transformed us as a society – the way we communicate, socialize & express ourselves.
Over the weekend I was attending a diner at a family gathering. I met my teenage cousin after a long time and started conversing with him, just a casual chat about high-school life and his interests. No matter what the questions were his responses were simple and abbreviated; no facial expressions at all. I felt almost as if the words were coming out of a programmed robot. I know he’s not a rude or arrogant kid; his stoned face during conversation in that festive environment was bit unusual for my expectation. With all the time at hand and idle brain desperately seeking a job I cooked up a small experiment on human emotions and drafted him as a subject. I befriended him on the face book & went to the other room & started chatting with him. To my amazement, I saw that kid more expressive & better responsive to my emotion-soaked questions and statements. Of course here he was freely using the digital emotions called emoticons to express him. He seemed to be a complete different person on online chat than in person conversations. This kid is a lone child of his career oriented parents, raised by “electronics”. With parents pursuing professional career, this kid spent most of his childhood amidst electronics. At home & to some extent even at day care. Laptop taught him letters, numbers & rhymes, tablet read him the stories & iPod lullabied him to sleep. For most part electronics replaced humans in raising him, and obviously his grooming lacked the emotional touch that humans would have incorporated. I think this what the kid was missing. Human emotions, something he was not exposed to, to a larger extent.
So is this a new epidemic EDS (Emotions deficiency Syndrome) in making that could plague our society and eradicate something that has been an integral part of our existence; our Emotional expressions. Even the simplest forms of animals express their emotions in one way or the other. We humans as a species have evolved more successfully in last millennium than any other living species. During the course of evolution we changed our lives drastically & stopped doing things that were part of our living rendering some of our body functions be just a vestigial. We discovered fire & learned to cook our food and now we no longer can digest raw food. Early humans were natural runners. We have developed means to transport ourselves, defend & protect ourselves to an extent that running is almost extinct from our day to day life. We no longer are a natural runner by behavior; we train ourselves to be a runner. So could we be at a verge of an evolving species again? The way we communicate & express over social media using emoticons, will emotions be extinct from our natural lives and we’ll have to train ourselves to be emotional.
I remember when video games started to become popular, parents across the globe raised a concern that technology is making our kids couch potato. Technology came up with an answer to the problem it created. Nintendo came with a toy Wii that dragged kids out of their couch and made them stretch & jump. It doesn’t replace the active life, but still a reasonable alternative over being a couch warmer. Soon other game makers followed the lead. So once again will technology have an answer for EDS? We are getting closer & closer in artificially imitating the life. We created Mr. Watson that can beat hands down the most knowledgeable quickest thinkers & responders of our time. We are creating artificial organs, human parts are implanted successfully, and genes are being engineered to alter the species as a whole. May be one day we might develop an emotion-rich gadget that will fill in the emotional void within us created by the technology. Until that happens, I may have an intermediate solution inspired by natural turned trained runner. Every year along with annual physical examination, we must also under go emotional examination. If we are diagnosed with an Emotion deficiency syndrome, we are then referred to specialized centers. Trained professionals will train us how to be expressive with emotions. There they’ll teach how to laugh out loud on a hilarious joke rather than “roflmao”
Kids are the future of the society, civilization. They say it takes a village to raise a kid. The era we are living in is shaped by people who were raised by a village. Today’s kids are raised by the social media which has a global reach. There better be a fantastic future ahead of us. I am highly optimistic. Are you?