Understanding Technology and Its Influence on Human Behavior
The proliferation of technology has made it an extremely influential part of human lives. Right from the time, we start our day all the way till we hit the sack. We utilize technology in every possible way to make our lives convenient.
With the digital social revolution that exploded in the early 2000s, technology has changed —
- the way we socialize
- the way we work
- the way we communicate
- the way we gather information
This drastic change has brought us to an important question — Are we too reliant on technology to the point where technology has spoilt us, and are we able to exist without it?
Read on for a full depth answer and decide for yourself.
IMPACT OF TECHNOLOGY ON THE HUMAN MIND
One of the biggest inventions of human history was understanding how electromagnetism works. Nikola Tesla, the famous Serbian inventor, was an avid technological genius that discovered a way to pass electricity without the use of wires in the year 1894.
This technology was way ahead of its time and unfortunately, the secret to wireless energy died with the prominent inventor himself but that didn’t stop others from trying to recreate his work.
Although there wasn’t any success in achieving wireless energy the way Tesla would have wanted to.
Today, we have quite the technologies that have changed the way the world experiences life. Here are a few of them.
- Internet — Undoubtedly the biggest technology in this list. The internet has improved the way people receive information and the way we communicate. The internet is a daily part of our lives and it’s impossible to think that we existed without this incredible piece of technology in the past.
- Remote Controls — A device that you point to interact with other gadgets such as a television, a music player, an automobile, etc. The technology brought great convenience and allowed us to simply change a channel or lock/unlock our cars with a tap of a button.
- Digital Cameras — Digital cameras have played an important role in recording personal memories and capturing profound moments in full HD color. With new age smartphones and tablets, sharing images through a digital camera in seconds is now a reality.
- GPS — Imagine trying to find a location while looking at a paper map only to find out that you’ve been reading the map wrong all this time. In comes the GPS technology, making it easier to find our favorite shopping destinations and multiplexes in less than a second and at a tap of a finger. The U.S military originally developed this technology to be used in warfare.
- Smartphones — Life would be incredibly boring if all our phones were only used for a single purpose — to receive and make calls. If it wasn’t obvious already, the “smart” phone allows us to access our work data, act as a digital GPS device to find locations, surf the web, watch movies, listen to music, and much more in a tiny device that we carry in our pockets.
In fact, the world is so reliant on technology that people don’t just adopt technology into their business but shape their business around the current technology. Let’s take an example —
Jake wants to open a physical store and set up several artworks that he has created over the years to sell for a profit. If Jake were to calculate his expenses in opening a physical store, it would go something like this
|Wages for 2-3 Employees
|Other Monthly Expenses (Food, Repair, etc.)
Jake needs about $4400 dollars to run a physical store to sell his art. Now if Jake were to adopt the current technology and open a digitalized store while putting up his paintings online without having to open a physical store.
Here’s how much it would cost Jake.
|Website Hosting Platform 1 year
|Domain Name 1 year
|Other Expenses (Food, Digital Advertising, Internet Plan)
An obvious choice, Jake would obviously opt for the digital store over a physical one as far as expenses are concerned.
It also allows him to gain an advantage in selling his artwork to a global audience compared to restricting his customers to a small vicinity in an area. Jake would also get more views for his artwork in a digital store without worrying about a crowd taking over his shop.
In this way, technology has recreated the way businesses and startups are launched. With every passing year, new technology forces businesses to either adopt it or miss out on valuable profits in the long run.
The next section will center around the negative aspect of technology and how it has affected creativity.
Is Technology Evil?
While technology has undoubtedly changed our lives to that of a convenient one. There are things that we’ve lost along the way while we search for newer technologies. Some of the negative points of technology are as follows —
Lack of Physical Human Bonding
Before the turn of the digital social revolution, people would hang out in parks and gardens and socialize in the good old-fashioned way by approaching each other and building relationships along the way. Technology has forced us back into a digital cave and enables us to forge these friendships in a virtual environment where there are no actual emotions felt and no physical touch and the complete lack of a bonding process.
Children who grow up in a technological world are also forced into a digital world at an early age. This restricts the cognitive abilities that a child develops and thus, as the child begins to grow into an adult, their emotions and feelings are purely synthetic as compared to a kid that was born before the 1990’s.
A study done by The Guardian in 2013 demonstrates how kids are addicted to smartphone apps and the most downloaded app was “Angry Birds” by kids whose age group was between 6 and 15 years.
In yet another research study conducted by the European Commission, kids were introduced to smart devices at an extremely young age where they couldn’t tell if it was harmful to them or not. Instances such as cyber-bullying, digital predators, and hijacking privacy were some of the worst affecting scenarios that the kids of the digital age face today.
Without a doubt, technology has a critical role to play in the negative side of how kids are being raised in a digital environment and how making a friend or two in a virtual environment has no emotional bonding behind it.
Plagiarism & False News
Prior to the digital age, copying another artist’s work was considered impossible or relatively hard to accomplish due to the strong private nature of a non-digitalized world.
Today, if an article is on the web, it can easily be converted into 20-different pseudo-articles in less than a minute thanks to various nefarious software.
Leaked movies are spread around the web before the actual premier that costs producers and directors millions of dollars due to piracy. Even music isn’t spared, it’s not uncommon to find a famous tune being turned into another song without the knowledge of the original artist, thanks to the digital age.
While the internet is a breeding medium for all the latest news and updates around the globe, there’s another emerging trend that has created havoc and chaos on the world wide web — Fake News. If you’ve recently read of an untimely demise of a popular actor and later, found out that he is alive and kicking, you’ve been a victim of fake news.
Fake news also spreads misinformation on various drugs helping with weight loss and cancer and causes people to blindly buy into these medications without verifying. This demonstrates how technology can be a wild card and how false news threatens the lives of people by misleading them.
Internet Scams & Hackers
With the internet age, a new wave of imposters has been unleashed on the world. If you aren’t careful you lose your life savings to a scam artist located in a remote corner of the globe and all this with a simple click of a button.
How do they do it?
Surely, you visit your bank’s official site to log in to your net banking section to access important financial information and updates. Imagine if a remarkably similar site such as your bank’s website existed, and you were sent an official email asking for verification of your account.
You’ll end up providing sensitive information and private data to these imposters and in less than 10 seconds, your funds are transferred to the imposter’s account. These funds are untraceable.
Websites that are fake but look like an original website are known as phishing sites. These types of sites exist to collect user information and then steal from them.
While technology has brought you and your bank closer, it has also left you vulnerable to internet threats such as phishing sites and hacking. That’s why we’ve created a to-do list to ensure you don’t fall prey to the dark side of technology.
Checklist to Secure Yourself on The Internet
- Always ensure your firewall is activated. Reject any program’s permission that seeks to disable your firewall. This is your first line of defense.
- Verify email addresses before opening your email, if you don’t know the sender, chances are it’s a hacker trying to get to your information. Use the “Spam” option to block future emails from this sender.
- A prefix at the start of your URL should always have “HTTPS” and not “HTTP”. The S stands for secure and it’s usually lit in a bright green color to notify the page is safe.
- Always upgrade your anti-virus to ensure your system is updated with the latest security files. An anti-virus is like a bodyguard to your private data.
- When using a wireless network, always provide an administrative password to deny hackers and invasive neighbors from using your home network.
- Never provide sensitive details such as login information and bank details to anonymous phone calls or emails. No company worth its salt ever needs this information through compromised sources.
- Keep a strong password of at least 9-15 letters long. Ensure the password isn’t just made up of numbers and alphabets and includes special characters and other random sequences that aren’t easily guessed by password generators.
- Finally, always update yourself with the latest information regarding internet technologies. The internet is a great place to be when safe-browsing is practiced. It’s also a nightmare when you let yourself be ignorant.
How Technology Governs Human Behavior
Today, a valid number of people would take out their smartphones to record a crime-in-progress rather than calling emergency services. Many of the actions we do are centered around technology.
We take out our phones when delicious food shows up on our table, we are more interested in taking a video of our favorite band at a concert and finally, our creativity is judged based on the technology we have in our homes.
There is a term for this type of dependence — it’s called Techno Addiction.
There is a fine line where we use technology to supplement our lives and where we are glued to technology for an unhealthy 16 hours a day. In fact, every one of us is familiar or know someone that is a techno addict.
That high school friend who’s always texting during lunchtime rather than spending time with you.
Maybe it’s the neighbor across the street who you haven’t seen for over a month and almost tried calling the emergency services only to discover they’ve buried themselves in front of their gaming screens.
So how do you truly find out if you’ve been a victim of technology? Let’s find out with an evaluation.
- Do you feel anxious when you leave home without your phone even when there are no important calls to be expected?
- Is it important for you to sleep with your phone beside you?
- Do you feel unhappy when a recently uploaded photo of yours on a social media site doesn’t get the intended likes and attention?
- Are you distracted from your work to constantly check your phones for notifications and other alerts?
- Do you prefer using video conferencing to stay in touch with your family instead of visiting them for the holidays?
- Have your family and friends ever complained about how disconnected you are with them because you’ve been spending time with your electronic devices?
- Have you ever been sleep deprived waiting for a message from your friend or loved one while using instant messengers?
- During the weekend, do you spend most of the time glued to a digital device? — Video games, online surfing, mobile phones, etc.
- Do you spend more time recording at a live concert over enjoying the spectacle?
- Do you share your pain with an online community rather than real life family and friends?
If you’ve answered Yes to —
None of the questions. Fabulous! You are a role model to today’s generation and a real adventurous person who can make do without technology for as long as he wants.
1-3 questions. You’ve got some level of addiction but with regular intervention, you should be able to beat it.
4-6 questions. There’s a serious addiction here. You’ll need to immediately sort your life out by seeking help from family and friends. Spend time outdoors without any digital devices. Including your phone.
6-10 questions. Extremely dangerous. The only way out of this type of addiction is if you seek professional help. No amount of motivation can get you to switch off. Immediately dial the helpline number at Addiction.com and start your journey back to the real world today.
5 WAYS TECHNOLOGY HIJACKS PEOPLE’S BEHAVIOR
1. Introducing FOMO (Fear of Missing Out)
Your favorite shopping site just announced a shopping bonanza. Plenty of gifts, prizes, and discounts are to be won. All for just visiting their site multiple times a day to check the different flash sales that are on. If you don’t find enough time to log on, you’ll miss out on a lot of exciting deals and prizes.
This is how a typical advertising campaign usually sets itself out and gets a ton of customers to visit their page during different times of the day. In fact, your product wishlist is empty since your last purchase but you still decide to make the best use of the shopping festival. All because of one important factor — Fear of Missing Out.
The modern shoppers feel that they need to be connected to every brand and newsletter to ensure they don’t miss out on a sweet deal. It’s great to save $25 from a juicer brand that costs $100 and it’s on sale for a limited time at $75. Great investment, right?
People don’t understand this, but technology manipulates us to buy products that we don’t need or desire. You don’t really want to buy a pair of boots, but the online discount coupon is super tempting. You end up buying it rather than missing out an irresistible offer. We psychologically react to any tempting sale. That’s what FOMO does to us.
We end up spending more money on products and this can bring down our monthly budget which means less savings for the year. Had we not seen the offer, we wouldn’t even know the item exists and we wouldn’t be buying it and would rather invest our money in wealth creation.
It’s always better to live in the moment than to live thinking of the future. Don’t buy products for tomorrow buy it for the immediate present. If a winter coat helps keep you warm, then go ahead and shop for a winter coat during the winter months. Buying a winter coat during spring just because you save a whopping 30% on the total price is the not smart shopping but a complete waste of money.
2. Pretends to Give People Control on Their Buying Options
When presented with the menu in a fine-dining restaurant, you have the freedom of choice to choose the food that you want to eat. And that’s exactly what technology makes us feel, that we are in control. We forget to realize that the choice is already made for us.
By controlling the type of menu, the restaurant indirectly controls the type of food you can order.
While it’s your choice to walk into any cuisine you may seem fit, but the ultimate decision is with the hotel serving you. They decide what goes through their menu.
Let’s say you search for lawyer services on Google. The search engine will pop up links to lawyers that have a high SEO rating with Google or are being advertised. So, are you getting the best lawyers in the world based on expertise? Quite frankly, No! You’re only being served the popular options from Google’s own search indexing menu.
Similarly, when visiting a shopping site, you’ll be shown a variety of choices and garments on display. When we shop we think we have the freedom to choose the color of the dress, the type of dress, the fitting of the dress.
Ultimately, the dress itself has been displayed on the shopping site because the website wants to show you exactly what they want you to see.
In this way, we surrender our ability to make choices while we fool ourselves thinking we have the freedom of choice with technology on our side.
3. Endless Entertainment Feed
Surely there can’t be anything wrong with video streaming sites such as Netflix and Hulu. They’ve only made it easier for us to watch the movies that we want at a cost-effective pricing. So why would we present something that’s completely positive in a negative light?
We did say the topic was about “hijacking people’s behavior” and how it causes you to spend more time and money without a full stop to it.
Let’s say you buy a year worth of Netflix entertainment, you’ll be greeted to create a selection of your favorite genres and to choose the movies and tv shows that you’ve already watched and would like similar recommendations.
Well, every time you finish an episode or a movie, you’ll be greeted with a recommendation screen to move on to the next movie or episode. The average user will sign out and proceed with his daily life. But what if you’re a binge-watcher.
A binge-watcher is someone who spends several hours of continuously watching entertainment in a single stretch of time. We might be closer to our favorite tv shows and movies with a tap of a button thanks to technology but unfortunately, unlike our remote controls, there isn’t a stop button to stop us from enjoying endless entertainment.
Binge-watching has the following cases of negative health effects related to it —
- 56% of users develop an antisocial behavior
- Watchers usually tend to forget their real-life responsibilities and end up wasting valuable time
- Real life relationships are affected due to less time spent in family bonding
- An addictive behavior begins to manifest which can take months or even years to treat
- Watching videos without resting can cause you to experience — fatigue, gain weight, increase health issues such as stroke and heart attack, etc.
Binge-watching has been a recent phenomenon due to the ease of accessibility of home entertainment. You can watch a movie while on a subway thanks to smartphones. You’ll never leave home without entertainment and that’s caused a negative phenomenon called binge-watching to spread.
4. Inconvenient Choices
Ever been provided a free 14-day trial to try a service or product. From your perspective, it’s completely free. After all, what possible ulterior motive can be brewing behind providing people with a trial.
While signing up for your trial, you’ll be asked for your information — personal and business. After which you’ll be asked to hook your credit card information on the basis that it won’t be charged until after the trial period has passed.
With this, you’ve just provided the following information for a 14-day free trial
- Credit card accessibility
- Personal Information
- Product purchase history matched with other sites against your personal information
They’ve now got everything they need to know about you and the brand will begin to send personalized ads your way. The telemarketers that call and waste 20 minutes of your daily life? Blame it on the information that you’ve just given to an unknown company that’s been giving you a free trial period.
Technology has cleverly manipulated you into providing all your information without you realizing it. It’s only when you are spammed with ads when opening an app do you realize that something’s truly wrong.
You realize every ad that you get from that point on is based around the products that you just bought from another website. How did they get so much access to your information? Well because you just happened to give it to them.
Your emails won’t be spared either as you’ll be spammed until your inbox is full of advertising emails that you manually must block every individual sender. A very time-consuming process.
5. Shortened Attention Span
Did you know technology has in adversely affected your attention span without you knowing about it?
The number of book readers in America alone has declined to 43% in 2016 from 57% in 1982. With every technological revolution that we enter, our attention span is declining to dangerous levels. In the future, we might not even hold a conversation with our family members for more than a minute before getting up to leave.
The cause of this is the dangerous trend of technology and its offerings. According to Microsoft Corp., the average attention span of a human has been reduced from 12 seconds to 8 seconds. Which means a goldfish which has an attention span of 9 seconds has beaten a full-grown human being.
The age of technology has let us access countless articles on the cyberspace that we prefer scanning them instead of reading and understanding the articles. Microsoft Corp. demonstrates that weaker attention span is linked to the evolving internet age along with the availability of devices such as tablets and mobile phones.
To normalize your attention, it’s recommended to quit using electronic devices before bedtime. Follow the below 3 habits and you’ll be on your way to paying attention to everything in detail in no time.
Areas of the brain that were exposed to music were shown to share the same space with the attentive areas of the brain.
This makes sense when you listen to a soundtrack and you attentively try to track the number of instruments that are being used in a song.
You try to break down the bass, rhythm, drums, vocals, and other sounds.
Write your notes down on pen and paper, don’t have the habit of typing your notes using Google Keep or other software on your devices.
Writing down notes also allows you to fully explore the idea rather than typing it down on a computer screen where your attention span is lowered thanks to our minds using the scan-and-go approach.
We don’t mean Google all your questions but develop a conversation with someone and pay attention to them by listening to their answers. This way, your brain begins to analyze what’s being heard by the other person and you’ll have a better attention span when listening to words that are being heard rather than scanning through articles for your answers.
Beware! While technology is a great access point, it also allows others to access you. It’s a two-way tunnel connecting you to the world and connecting the world to you.
Just as you can watch a movie that is available online, companies are able to view your information without entering your homes. Privacy is a concern due to technology’s grasp of everything that happens around the world. I
t’s always a good idea to think twice before you provide information to unknown sources or face the danger of becoming a victim.
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