Technology Driving Us …Where?

Image credit: Google Images

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.

Image Credit: Microsoft Clipart

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?

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About Yatin

Amateur Scribbler. Equal opportunity scribbler on Stupidity and Sanity.
This entry was posted in Lighter Side, Technology and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

40 Responses to Technology Driving Us …Where?

  1. Hareem says:

    Nice topic. I have noticed this EDS in my younger cousins too. They kind of try to get away when they come face to face. Kids of the new century especially lack emotions. Their life is just limited to tv, internet, mobile phones. That’s all they have. Poor kids. There should be an annual EDS exam for these kids.

  2. Java Girl says:

    Impressive blog my friend! I’m a nonconformist regarding raising my son the “American way” and more the “Brazilian way” which entails allowing him to grow up according to his age and milestones. My son plays video games, but we also do some theatre type of scenes where he plays several emotions. He wants to join a drama club anyways. He’s extremely informed about outside cultures, customs, travels, politics via my blogs and conversations. What we do everyday is have a good belly laugh over anything and I really encourage communication with him. I’m trying to raise a leader by demonstrating good morals, honor and having dignity as I was a leader during my childhood and young adult years. These things he can’t get on Facebook or any technology, but by me. 🙂

  3. Jake Kale says:

    I worry that my nephew might get like this. Technology and particularly the internet already provide a substantial percentage of his entertainment – when he comes to visit he’s straight on Youtube looking for 20 different Spongebob Squarepants Sparta remixes to show me. When I was his age I was trying to constructing a full-size Ninja Turtle skateboard.

    That being said, he’s not left on his own devices. My brother and his wife spend almost all their free time with him, and he does physically socialize with other kids. I suspect that’s the key, since he does display what I would consider appropriate child-like reactions. Particularly when I shove things up my nose.

    • Yatin says:

      Haha… Jake, anyone – kid or an adult who cannot laugh on your little antics seriously needs a rehab to restore emotions. In fact your work (writings) should be used as a test to diagnose EDS! 🙂
      Little tangent on the topic, my nephew mentioned above is also enrolled for sports but for some reason I still do not consider the supervised sports activity at par with the outdoor play that kids engage into, in backyard or into street. A tiger’s cub raised in captivity (controlled, supervised condition) will have different skills & behavior than the one raised in wild. Not saying kids playing under lawless conditions, but instead of coach setting up rules, kids form their own rules, are their own judge and negotiate things out.

  4. Fascinating topic, Yatin, and one that can be pretty depressing. I’m glad to hear you’re optimistic!

    I personally don’t foresee technology, or its overuse, taking away children’s emotional development or expression. I can see how it might detract from both, however, or at least alter the way they express themselves. Kids and adults need outdoor time, active play time (not just with the Wii) and physical contact and interaction with people. I think technology can also help drive us toward better health and wellness if we use it appropriately… LOVE your idea of having annual emotional exams. Agree 100%…think adults should have them, too.

    • Yatin says:

      I hope so too that technology does not alter the way we express. It is surely influencing the way we socialize now. Technology can be used to our advantage if we use it responsibly. Only few decades ago Moms used to bake bread in oven, now it is convenient to get it from a bakery. It’s fine if Mom’s Oven is replaced by bakery, it would be scary if bread is replaced by nutrition bar! Technology should replace the task not the tradition. It will be interesting to watch how next few decades gets shaped up by technology

  5. susielindau says:

    I have the polar opposite problem of EDS! I really react! That’s why I use so many exclamation points!!!

  6. This seems to have happened to me as well and not just the kids. Of late I have been telling my friends that I will see them online rather than meeting them in person or talking on the phone.
    You have made excellent points regarding this change. Interesting it is to note how technology has already begun to spread roots in the manner we express ourselves!

  7. Addie says:

    I am not so much a tekkie but social networking sites have been eating up my time these days. I am always active on Facebook, as some of us are, and it feels like I have ‘reach’ to everything. While reading this, my eyes froze on the “human emotions” part and I instantly thought of real connections. I smiled at the thought that even though I’m a SNS addict I can still find time to do my social networking the old-fashioned way – over a coffee or a meal. I’m sure others can, too. And that’s what I am optimistic about.

    Very thought-provoking, Yatin.

    • Yatin says:

      Good for you & in the process you are helping others with you to be away from SNS. May be they should have a SNS blackout time once a week or at least few hours forcing people to go out and meet “real people”!

  8. sagarika says:

    i myself am a techie and roam around with all gadgets but i make sure to give time to my real life too… .. a very good one

  9. olgamire says:

    That’s my concern as well (and I have many of them 🙂 )
    The problem you described has many shades, It was wandering in my thoughts for long time, and became very actual now, when I have a baby. There is almost nothing real left in our lives, we step out apartment, driver car with air conditioner, take an elevator to the cubicle and sit in front of screen, this is what is called work, and then we drive car back home and again sit in front of our computers that is what called our leisure time. And I always wondered, what will my baby see? Mom “working”? how will he understand that I’m working? what other choices do I have?

    • Yatin says:

      That’s a very god concern. In my company though this has been taken very seriously (work-life balance). For software professionals (especially working Moms) who can work remotely are encouraged to work from home at least once or more a week from home. May be you should look into that.

  10. Hellopalz says:

    EDS..hmm never heard of it! But I can relate to what u say.

  11. Hellopalz says:

    In response to ur comment on TAJ -Reflections. P.S -Dont have to publish this on ur post here.
    Oh Yeah I did not realize that! TAJ is for Tour activity journal. You are right, I guess I could just change the post title!

  12. I think it is the problem of all new generations no matter where they are. My 4 year old nephew is happy to be in front of laptop whole day watching Wiggles and Mr. Maker than going out and playing with his friends. Parents need to actively make sure kids are not techno savvy from very young age so they are still human not robot like you described.

    • Yatin says:

      Absolutely, a lot depends on parents on how they shape their kids. The more time hey spend with kids less likely they’ll be relying on electronics.

  13. emptyhat says:

    My little cousin is exactly the same. She can’t even get ready in the mornings without watching some series on her blackberry while she combs her hair and brushes her teeth.

  14. Shilpa says:

    You’re highly optimistic? (are you being sarcastic?!)
    Your post is depressing!
    If this is what we are doing to our leaders of tomorrow we happen to be a pathetic leaders of today. Everyone keeps waiting for the world to change- I think we should really be active in creating the change… Even if its only in the life of those who are around us.

    • Yatin says:

      I am being sarcastically optimistic. Evolution is natural and a continuous process. Life continues to evolve, sometimes for good & sometimes the species becomes extinct. The example we sited about cooked food & how running is no longer natural to us anymore shows that we invented means for our comfort but they came with their own side effects. Technology is changing the way live and socialize that is for sure. It’s now up to us to see to extent we make ourselves dependent on one. I am confident that we will never be ruled by machines like in transformers, we will maintain an edge over machines, but will they cripple us to some extent and if so will that be for good or bad. And I don’t think there is an answer for that. I like to see glass half full and so I am optimistic that technology raised generation will take us into better future. 🙂

  15. Yatin I love the Google image of man’s evolution. It’s weird how much more comfy kids are online than in person. I used to think I was a shy person but they make me look gregarious in comparison. 🙂

    • Yatin says:

      Absolutely, technology has changed the perspective. Well inadvertently, it helped you improve (or appear one) on something! 🙂

  16. kofegeek says:

    ah, computer make me less exercise ;(

  17. thats the case with lot of introvert persons, if you meet them face to face they will answer in monosyllables, chat with them on google and they will entertain you to no end. 🙂

    seems these tools have given these invisible people some visibility.

  18. Sampurna says:

    “May be one day we might develop an emotion-rich gadget that will fill in the emotional void within us created by the technology.” High quality geek export of India! 😛 😀 But I quite like the idea 🙂

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