The Perils of a Truly Digital AgeTweet
Joined: Dec 2011Occupation: studying PPE at Durham UniversityJustin's Full Profile
Before I begin, I have to acknowledge how ironic it is that you will inevitably be reading this piece on some kind of digital medium, and will have most likely discovered it though the social networking sites that are a hallmark of the digital age in which we live. And of course I believe technological advances have lifted millions out of poverty, conquered many previously incurable diseases, and made our daily routines a heck of a lot easier; only a fool thinks otherwise.
But the digitization of modern life comes at a cost. ‘Trolling’ is a term that is used far too jovially given that it often describes what amounts to nothing more or less than bullying. Take the Samantha Brick piece published in the Daily Mail last week. I will never personally defend her disgusting narcissism but, glancing at the comments section underneath her article, some replies were in fact highly offensive, and her email inbox was inundated with hundreds more hateful messages.
Technology is also changing the patterns of crime. The Wikileaks hacks, for instance, showed how one insecure server could change political landscapes across the globe. On a slightly less dramatic scale, a quarter of British adults have either been a victim of identity theft or know someone who has, according to Which? Magazine. Again, there is an irony in the fact that the comparatively archaic method of shredding documents is now one of the most reliable ways to prevent ones identity being stolen.
Part of the problem is that we have become too reliant on our digital devices. When tens of millions of Blackberry users experienced intermittent service outages last October, there was global outrage. Keyword global. Now so much of our information comes to us online, we should really be taking the time to filter out the thousands of unreliable sources that we do unfortunately rely on. What is more, we now get our news in such a truncated, synopsized way that we are seemingly failing to properly look at the issues, settling for sound bites instead. Or cats in bread. Thus we slowly but surely ensure the banality of our society through our consumption of technology.
My fear is that this reliance on digitization will begin to noticeably infect our interpersonal skills. Our ability to go out and actually experience the real world is already limited by the exorbitant amount of time we spend on forums such as Facebook and Twitter. True, computer literacy is a fine business asset, but you can’t teach the interpersonal skills needed to succeed in the workplace via the web. We would do well to remember this as digital media inevitably fortifies its position of influence in our lives.Tweet