Overdependence on Technology
Nowadays even a 5-years-old American child knows what to do with a smart phone and understands how to play Angry Birds before he/she learns how to read. It is possible to say that there is nothing horrible in the fact that even the smallest children get used to live with advanced technologies because they are developing their intellectual abilities earlier.
However, the overall situation is not that optimistic. A great number of people are over dependent on technology. A laptop, a phone and a tablet became more important in their lives than communication with real people. It led to multiple problems like headaches, scoliosis, bad eyesight, lack of fresh air, depressions and apathy. Though, the gadget and the Internet addictions became not only the causes of physical problems connected with a sedentary lifestyle, but also led to serious psychological disorders.
Many people might feel anxious about the possibility that the Internet access might crush, or they might lose their smart phone. It is evident that it might be inconvenient to work without a possibility to get information somewhere in the web or call someone. People usually do not remember the phone numbers of all their colleagues, friends and relatives. Though, these minor inconveniences do not lead to psychosis, fears and further apathy if the person is mentally healthy. The issue is that if there is already a pathological dependence over the gadget or the communication in the Internet, the person can not control his/her mental crisis and this problem is not very rare in the contemporary society.
It is possible to find the examples of people who are over dependent on technology. There are numerous cases when people are too frightened to have serious discussions face-to-face, and as a result of it the couples decide to break up by sending messages and the employees are also fired this way. It seems abnormal, but more and more people get used to it. Text messaging seems to be convenient, but if the habit to do it becomes too strong, it becomes a fuss.
Another problem that is caused by people’s over dependence on technology is that they prefer to observe the life through the screen of their smart phones. There is a bright example that can be found in the news from Europe. When people are gathering on the political meeting, they are taking pictures of each other rather than protesting, and this situation seems quite comic. No need to say that they results of such protests are humble. The only thing those people achieve is that the “revolutionaries” post their photos in Facebook and Instagram in several hours about their original experience. For example, when the Russian opposition gathered on the strike in Moskow, they wanted the government to free the political prisoners. However, when the police was taking people from the square, the crowd did not help those people, they were just taking pictures of those so-called illegitimate actions.
It is possible to find numerous examples about the deteriorating effect of advanced technologies on the quality of life in the world literature. One of them is White Noise, a postmodern novel by Don DeLillo. The main idea of the book is that the society is rotten on all its levels because of the mass medial propaganda and technological dependence. This deterioration can be vividly described on the example of a middle class family, which is even possible to call a simulacrum of the family since its members share neither blood nor ideas. That means that they are not relatives by blood, but they have also nothing in common to be the friends.
The onslaught of information people take from the outer world is of reduced level of complexity end up with infantilization of adults. This leads to certain negative results shown in the novel. The grown up people start to get used to being passive and lose the ability to make sense of the seeming chaos they live in, and rely instead on the opinions of dubious “experts”. An absolute evil in White Noise are television and mass media. Those phenomena make all people in Gladney’s family lose their identity, making impersonal consumers out of them. Kobo Abe in his famous novel The Woman in the Dunes wrote:
There wasn’t a single item of importance [in the newspaper]. A tower of illusion, all of it, made of illusory bricks and full of holes. If life were made up only of important things, it really would be a dangerous house of glass, scarcely to be handled carelessly. But everyday life was exactly like the headlines. And so everybody, knowing the meaninglessness of existence, sets the centre of his compass at his own home. (24)
Everyone in the White Noise is living in this illusory tower and fear of death so much that this feeling paralyzes them. DeLillo notes, “For most people, there are only two places in the world. Where they live and their TV set. If a thing happens on television, we have every right to find it fascinating, whatever it is” (DeLillo 51).
The greatest part of the information that can be found nowadays in the Internet is not of a very high quality. Though, those people who are overdependent on this flow of unnecessary information do not usually search for something better. The same situation is described in the White Noise. The status of knowledge reduces greatly. Random rumors are considered to be facts. The adults in the novel lose their ability to filter information and perceive it critically, relying on the points of view of dubious experts. Television is not only a source of information, it also plays a central role in the family. It is possible to change the notion of television to the one of the Internet, that has all the previously mentioned functions of the TV and mass-media.
When Orwell wrote in his dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty-Four that Big Brother is watching everyone from TV-sets, it was made to horrify the readers and this effect was certainly created. It seems to me that DeLillo wrote another dystopian memorandum for middle-class consumers that television can destroy their lives, just like the abundance of gadgets and the world web.
The modern society described by DeLillo in White Noise is technologically advanced and is often called an informational one. Even several centuries ago, a book was a luxurious possession, and it was extremely difficult to find it and buy because it was expensive. Nowadays, the information can be taken from various sources. It can be analyzed freely and no one will burn the heretic downtown. The strange thing is that the majority of people does not need this knowledge and are happy with getting another doze for their Internet and TV addiction.
There is another serious problem connected with overdependence on technologies and the Internet. Many people spend too much time in the Internet and take all the information from it too seriously. Movies, musical videos and commercials promote certain image of the way successful people should look like. Women and teenagers are the most vulnerable parts of the society, who react sharply on how the society perceives them and accepts. Of course, men also undergo this negative influence of the propagated image, but the percentage of serious traumas on this basis is not that high.
Santrock (2001) notes that emotional development of an adolescent is not full without establishing a coherent and realistic sense of identity in the context of her/his surrounding. The notion of identity includes current real image of the adolescent, how she/he perceives her/himself at the moment, and how she/he imagines the “possible self”, which refers to the desired image an adolescent wants to achieve.
Being slim is one of the most spread key characteristics of a successful person in the modern society. If the person is slim, he/she is hardworking and active; so he\she fits the ideal image from the commercials. On the contrary, those people who have problems with weight suffer from social disapproval and often hear stereotypical ideas that if they are not fit, they are lazy and unprofessional.
Adolescents and women are very concerned about their appearance, and when their body image does not correspond to the popular beauty trends (nowadays, it is a thin person), they try to change it. Their attempts often lead to extreme dieting and result in bulimia, anorexia nervosa, and other eating disorders.
According to the survey conducted by Dounchis, Hayden, and Wilfley (2001), between 0.5% and 1% of all adolescent girls in the United States from 12 to 18 years old are anorexic, from 1% to 3% are bulimic, with approximately 20% having unhealthy dieting behaviors. Even though boys sometimes also suffer from these eating disorders, the 90 percent are comprised of adolescent girls. This statistics shows that overdependence on technologies and the Internet leads to serious and real problems with health.
Heldman (2013) writes:
On every newsstand, impossibly slim (and digitally airbrushed) cover “girls” adorn a slew of magazines. With each image, you’re hit with a simple, subliminal message: Girls’ and women’s bodies are objects for others to visually consume. If such images seem more ubiquitous than ever, it’s because U.S. residents are now exposed to 3,000 advertisements a day—as many per year as those living a half century ago would have seen in a lifetime. The Internet accounts for much of this growth, and young people are particularly exposed to advertising: 70 percent of 15- to 34-year-olds use social networking technologies such as MySpace and Facebook, which allow advertisers to infiltrate previously private communication space.
Beauty standards for women are usually considered to be signs of youth, health and fertility. The key characteristics are full lips, lustrous hair, smooth and clear skin, bright lively eyes and symmetrical facial features. Men also tend to find women with equal body proportions more attractive than just slim ones. Though, the image of a beautiful modern female does not show the waist-to-hip ratio, but cultivates the image of a fashion model, which creates psychological problems for many women.
The great amount of information people get from the Internet impose the image of a sexual slim woman and a successful man, what makes people change the way they present themselves. The majority of people want to be approved and praised by others, so they try to meet their expectations and alter their own natural behavioral pattern. This often leads to emotional breakdowns, dissatisfaction with life, low self-esteem and eating disorders. In this case the negative effects of the Internet over dependence are evident. In addition, the level of intellectual development of people lowers in a direct proportion to the increase of physical and psychological pathologies. Children and teenagers are in the category of risk, because they spend much time in the Internet, preferring real communication with peers to chatting in social media. They also prefer to surf the web instead of studying, which leads to the decrease of academic performance at school. Don DeLillo in his book White Noise describes the society where technological overdependence perverted the traditional image of the family.
DeLillo, Don. White Noise. New York: Penguin, 1986. Print.
Dounchis, Jenifer Zoler, Hayden, Helen A., & Wilfley, Denise E. Obesity, body image, and
eating disorders in ethnically diverse children and adolescents. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association, 2001. Print.
Heldman, Caroline. “Out-of-Body Image.” Ms. Magazine, 2008. Web. 19 March 2014.
Kobo, Abe. The Woman in the Dunes. Reissue edition. New York: Vintage, 1991. Print.
Santrock, John W. Adolescence. 8th ed. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2001. Print.