Mariam Ikram |
Is the 21st-century generation more blessed than its ancestors? Is this age of technology more comfortable than the preceding ages? Are the people dwelling in the developed world more contented than the undeveloped world? To name a few, these are the pertinent questions that may arise in an analytical mind critical of technological wonders. A person rejoicing the comfort and luxuries brought by technological revolution probably answers ‘Yay’ to the above-mentioned questions, perhaps unconscious of the price he along with his fellows have been paying for it.
This affirmative response is manufactured by the hegemonic demons – corporate sector and media – rightly called “engineering consent” by Noam Chomsky. Beyond a shadow of a doubt, advancement in the field of science and technology has not only brought ease and comfort but bolstered prosperity and progress. Everything is made accessible, just one-click away. An email can be sent, a call can be received, a deal can be made, a photo can be uploaded, a moment can be captured, a film can be produced, a song can be recorded, a lock can be unlocked, an order can be placed, shopping can be done, a room can be chilled, coffee can be made, food can be cooked, man can be shot, even a country can be blown away by the power of just one – click.
Technology has revolutionized the lifestyle of a man. He has got more control and power over the world than before. The word impossible is made possible, hence obsolete. It has provided man with immense powers. Considering himself a powerful species, he does not only belittle the efforts of his ancestors, naming them ignorant, backward, barbarous, and uncivilized, but also continues to live in a fool’s paradise.
Encourage the programs aimed at civic engagement and promote active citizenship. Apprise the people about the cost we are unconsciously paying to make our life comfortable but miserable for generations to come.
Besides the privileges of technological revolution, one cannot turn a blind eye to its repercussions. As there is no such thing as free lunch, we have to pay the cost of the incentives and perks we are endowed with. A layman is unaware of the exorbitant cost he is being charged in return for an idyllic lifestyle. It is worth mentioning here that the price is not only paid through tangible currency comprising of human lives and natural resources – Flora and Fauna of the ecosystem – but also through the intangible currency comprising of human physical, emotional as well as mental health, and above all morality of mortal beings.
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Both tangible, as well as intangible currencies, are at the verge of extinction. Overthrown by machines, the worth of a human is depreciating. An eminent philosopher and sociologist, Max Weber, named this age of mechanization as an “Iron cage of modernity” where human beings are highly replaceable like cogs in machines; devoid of love for nature and life, a disenchanted soul. Furthermore, the devastating impact of technology is not only limited to the sociological system but also causing immense destruction to the biological system at large.
Undoubtedly, the technological advancement in the field of medicine and surgery has consolidated the health sector; produced vaccinations of several incurable epidemic diseases which wiped out nations from the world in history. It has contributed enough to decrease the mortality rate but declined the life expectancy and elevated the rate of sudden deaths in young and adults. The epidemic diseases of the past are replaced by the most advanced diseases like Zika, Congo, Swine Flu, Dengue, HIV, and Hepatitis etc.
It seems like viruses are more resistant and have developed strong immune system against the medicines available. In spite of the latest diagnostic technology, most of the diseases are undetected, thus remain undiagnosed and uncured. Moreover, the advanced diagnostic technology emits hazardous radiation injurious to life on the planet. Similarly, every technology which we use from the light bulb to Styrofoam coffee cups is perilous. From microwaves to polymers, everything is carcinogenic.
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The cases of cancer are increasing dramatically. According to WHO, cancer is the second leading cause of death globally and was responsible for 8.8 million deaths in 2015. Globally, nearly 1 in 6 deaths is due to cancer. One of the leading factors contributing to cancer is obesity. Again, kudos to technology for making us indoor couch-potatoes and refraining the generation to take part in outdoor physical activities. Instead of exerting physically in the playground, youngsters prefer to stay at home and exert mentally on video games on Xbox, or talking to someone in the virtual world.
Flora and Fauna of the ecosystem – but also through the intangible currency comprising of human physical, emotional as well as mental health, and above all morality of mortal beings.
Likewise, researchers claim that average human exposure to the screen is 12 hours a day, whether, in the form of LEDs in living area, laptop on the office desk, projector in the class, or smartphone in the hand; all cause irreparable loss to eyesight. Short-sightedness, or myopia, is one of the leading causes of visual disability around the world and rates are rising rapidly. By 2050 half the world’s population, around 5 billion people, are expected to be short-sighted compared to roughly 1.4 billion people today – 10 percent of these will have severe myopia, which carries a risk of blindness.
There is also a widespread increase in cases of hear-loss due to noise pollution and radiations emitting from smartphones. In a similar way, the transformation of human beings from tech-savvy to tech-slavery is also disrupting the social fabric of the society by evoking emotional distress and reducing mental capabilities. Psychological disorders like anxiety, hypertension, depression, and insomnia are becoming so pervasive that almost 60 percent of Americans have to consult a psychiatrist. It has also accelerated suicide rate among teenagers.
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Another psychological disorder more prevalent among youth is social media addiction. Researchers exert that giving smartphone in the hands of youth is worse than giving cocaine to them. This addiction leads to a fear of being left out by losing a smartphone, named as Nomophobia. Owing to technology, psychological disorders bring humanity to the verge of destruction. It paves the way for social evils – violence, intolerance, impatience, indifference, and insensitivity – and causes outrage in the society.
Akin to the age of industrialization, in the era of digital technology – through the wonder of Artificial Intelligence – manpower is replaced by robots, ascending the rate of unemployment, adding more fuel to the fire, further deteriorating the social structure thus catalyzing corruption, bribery, crime, and robbery. In this era of competition, rat race, survival of the fittest and cut-throat competition has made people Narcissist – self-obsessed – turning a blind eye towards the sensitive segment of the society.
Instead of exerting physically in the playground, youngsters prefer to stay at home and exert mentally on video games on Xbox, or talking to someone in the virtual world.
Moreover, the misrepresentation of the poor segment on the mainstream media widens the gap between the haves and have not. Resultantly, the feelings of hatred and vengeance prevail among the poor segment of the society. Advancement in the field of technology has not only shrunk the world, but it has also shrunk the human heart, devoid of love, peace, and tranquillity for others. Additionally, along with man, the burden of repercussions is equally shared by all living beings on this planet. Environmental degradation widely known as Climate Change is making the possibility of life – human, wild and marine – miserable.
The life of our planet is resting on the ventilator due to global warming, torrential rainfall, frequent earthquakes, massive thunderstorms, killing heatwaves, impending water scarcity leading to droughts and unpredictable weather conditions. The domino effect stimulated by CFCs – Chlorofluorocarbons – emitting from our cooling machines are responsible for the 2-degree centigrade rise in temperature annually leading to glacier melting, causing floods, affecting crops, bringing logging and salinity, leading to water scarcity, ultimately causing famine and affecting the economy in the countries closer to the equator. This has brought the agrarian economy to the brink of annihilation.
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Unconscious of the miseries which technology has brought, we are enjoying the luxuries at the cost of the life of this planet. The destruction caused by the radiations emitting from technology has to be dealt with an iron hand. The dire need of time is to plan, design and adopt integrated and strategic policies at global, regional, national, and local level. The most pertinent panacea of this grave situation is to make the technology eco-friendly and ensure its availability at an economical price.
Encourage the programs aimed at civic engagement and promote active citizenship. Apprise the people about the cost we are unconsciously paying to make our life comfortable but miserable for generations to come. There is a need to incorporate sustainable development goals and eco – friendly technology to revive the ecosystem. Encouragement of outdoor games and physical activities and reduction in screen exposure would be an effective strategy to free this one-click generation from the clutches of tech-slavery.
Succinctly, technology has rendered invaluable service to mankind in every field. From shrinking the land to widening the necessities of life, technology has revolutionized, transformed, and elevated the standard of living. Along with luxury and comfort, it has made man lethargic carcass, lacking physical as well as mental strength. This idyllic life should not be enjoyed at the expense of the life of our planet and generations to come. To rejuvenate the planet we have to think global and act local; adopt a healthy lifestyle and adapt ourselves to curb the growing challenges of a one-click generation.
Mariam Ikram is an MPhil Scholar and media academician. She believes in audience empowerment by making them media literate through enhancing critical thinking among the readers by showing the other side of the story which mostly goes unheard or uncaptured in mainstream media. She tends to explore hidden social nuances which deprive us of the essence of humanity. The views expressed in this article are author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.