Modern society has become synonymous with progress and ‘‘civilisation,’’ or as it is often called ”the acculturation of the masses;” technology was intended to be the vehicle which propels us in that ”civilised” direction. Interestingly however, what has effectively resulted from the centuries of effort to lift us from the doldrums of our ancestors is that as a human race, we have ironically taken a few steps backwards, in the direction of our Neanderthal ancestors. Yes, we have degraded to using the snorts, grunts, gesticulations, and other liminal communicative means that our forefathers employed, and our daily existence is not too far from theirs.
Now I am not saying that there are no benefits to be enjoyed, or that we have not ”evolved,” but those elements can be discussed in another post, or in your comments, but in this post I am addressing the retrograde aspect. So, let’s proceed to call a spade a spade, or in this case, let’s call the phenomenon what it is – a numbing of the creative process; a halting of the development of the human element as it realtes to…..well, relations.
Now before anyone hauls off and gets their G-strings in a tangle, let’s acknowledge the fact that one must sit up and take notice when two of the most prominent advocates of technology, Bill Gates, the creator of the internet revolution, and renown physicist, Stephen Hawking, who communicates only through machines, have voiced growing concern for ”artificial intelligence,” and the race between man and the machines he create. They both agree that on this, our current trajectory, there is no wonder who/ what will win.
I have recently found myself succumbing to the behest of social mandates and becoming entangled in its web (no pun intended) of implications. In observing my own participation, I have compiled a list of 7 ways that social media and electronic propagation has retarded our society:
- it has become the sine qua non for our speaking component; speech has been reduced to emails, text messages, and ideographs
- it has drastically reduced our written communication to acronyms; sentences are rapidly becoming obsolete
- now since speaking and writing are the two active components of language, and these are being suffocated, I don’t think I need to emphasise the effects on the inactive linguistic skills – reading and listening.
- it has dramatically reduced our expressions and communication to pictographs; we are moving closer to hieroglyphs
- like Palaeolithic man, we now perform only the basic functions of existence: eat, sleep, procreate, hunt and gather, then scribble in the sand…..ok, so we’re scribbling in cyberspace….yeah, that is an improvement worth noting!
- it is used as a social mechanism to insulate, isolate, and segregate, as our identities have become so intricately woven into the cyber imperatives, and we bow to its behest; thus, stemming the dream of a globalised community, which requires acceptance and integration.
- it is enslaving; and this is the most damning and damaging factors of all. I don’t think I need to expand on this one.
Now for all the social media adherents, and the millennials who were born with a cell phone attached to their palm and earbuds embedded in their ears, and who may jump to argue that this is necessary for their job, friends, etc. (I’ve heard it all), I have one question: (1) if there is a monumental disaster, taking our electricity, and the satellite shifts for a period of time, thereby eliminating all communication as we have grown accustomed to, would you know what to do?
Again, I am not advocating for a boycott of social media, but I am saying that it is a mere tool, which like all tools are passive, and dependent on our decision to use them, or not, or to use them discriminately. To date, there is no tax assessed on our volitional will – the ability to make a choice!