We live in a society where we are bombarded with information, images and the written word daily. In all this information we are told repeatedly how we should feel and think. What products we should own and how our bodies should look. We have the option to text instead of talk. We can watch hundreds of channels on television and stream music from around the world. Modern social media, electronic devices and the internet connect us all in ways that was that never possible before, and yet, with that has come negative consequences.
Information is wonderful, yes, and as a society we are more informed and have the ability to connect with more people on a level not possible before, and yet, where are we as a society? We are a society becoming consumed by our technology and media output to the point where we are becoming a world of people who often do not interact with each other on a personal level.
Social media pressures and a push for consumerism is not a new thing. An example of this is how In the 1950s great efforts were made by many sources including social pressure and the media at the time to encourage woman to desire a life of domestic bliss. The men were home from WWII and they needed their jobs back, so women were pressured to want that white picket fence home and gleaming new appliances that the domestic life offered. Men were told that they were the breadwinners and akin to gods. They should expect to return home and find their wife happy and pretty, dinner hot and ready for them, and their children obedient and quiet.
In our modern day world we like to think that we are beyond those times of subservience and social pressures. We have more freedom that we have ever had in history to have and obtain the type of life we really desire to have, and yet how far have we really come? Have we not been brainwashed in a new way? Why interact with people on a personal level when you can text them instead? Gosh you don’t even have to break up in person anymore! Just send that email or text and you are as free as a bird!
The news now regularly has reports of persons suffering injuries and accidents because they are too busy texting on their electronic devices while they were walking or driving. We are a world where seeing someone talking to themselves is now considered so normal it is ignored! I can’t tell you how many times I have given someone wearing one of those phones that connect to your ear a wide berth because I thought they were unstable! Of course I felt really silly when they turned around and I saw the device. A modern day faux pas that I am sure would be in the pages of her latest book on etiquette if Emily Post was still alive.
Aldous Huxley wrote about a world ruled by consumerism, a people who were literally brainwashed into wanting to always having something new, where technology ruled them all. In his novel Brave New World he described a world addicted to a drug called Soma, which allowed its users to feel happiness and peace all the time, as they tuned out to the reality around them. I am not saying that technology and social media is wrong. I am not saying that the internet is wrong. I love the net! I love searching for information about new topics and learning new things. I love being able to chat with friends around the world and connect with people. Heck, being able to call my husband on his cell phone and tell him to pick up milk while he is out is very convenient! What is important to remember with technology is that it is a tool. A tool is meant to be something that is used to assist you in order to make tasks easier, and save time. A tool is not supposed to take over your life.
True social interaction seems to be slipping away. I have seen pictures on the internet of people in a club all looking at their phones and not even acknowledging each other. That is unbelievable to me. I want to shake them all and shout at them to “Stop looking at your phone and start looking at each other!” As a society we have a responsibly to contribute to it in a constructive positive manner, not just for our self but for others as well. We need to start to really listen to each other. Listening to music is great but not if you can’t hear the world around you, or the car about to hit you! Take your ear buds out of your ears so you can hear the people and what is around you. When a tragedy or accident happens, put down your recording device and help if you can! Recently a water pipe burst in Montreal at the McGill campus downtown. Quickly the videos and images surfaced of the sudden surge of water filling the street. I watched a video of one person trying to cross the street and getting pulled off her feet and swept down the road by the water. On the video there was a confused male voice asking “Hey, where is she going? Should we like, help her or something?” Seriously? How that was even a question that needed to be asked? Was it because on some level, before she fell, that young woman was not seen as a person? Was she only something to film for interest to post on the web? That is only one example of how desensitized we have become as a society. Brainwashed not by people but by the very devices we created to assist us.
Let us as humans in this wondrous world of the 21st century, work to find a balance in life. So many of us have become drones to the technology of convenience. Let us try to remember that people are what really matters, not things. Technology is a tool that is meant to assist us, not rule our lives and keep us in a bubble of ignorance. Remember that behind every text is a person. In every video you watch of a tragedy, there are real lives involved. Know that your car is a marvelous feat of technology, but it is not impervious, and neither are you when you are in it.
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