Technology boosts intellect and bridges gaps. But something seems amiss.
We have lost our sense of purpose. We develop new technologies only to prove that we can do it.
In a tech-driven economy, we produce more information than we can consume. And the producers compete for our short attention span.
If their business model gets us hooked, they consider it successful.
But what we see is superficial. As tech booms, we become more distant, more isolated, and less cheerful in real life.
The tech industry has moved from solving real problems to world problems. So, it needs to refocus on solving the former again.
Welcome to the Dark Side
Technology is pervasive.
In 2017, marketing agency Mediakix found that we spend more than two hours per day on average on social media.
A Digital Universe study found that everyone will have 5,200 GB of data stored on the cloud by 2020. And rich organizations can leverage this susceptible firehose of data.
In a post on The Atlantic, San Diego State psychology professor Jean Twenge shared the results of their groundbreaking research. She said smartphone use has skyrocketed teenage depression and suicide.
We can point out several factors—but two of them stand out.
- Behavioral design. Developers create addictive, immersive apps. We quickly check our phones when a notification pops up.
- Unregulated online publishing. Our ability to post content online—sometimes anonymously or abusively—has no solid restrictions. The limited censure allows people to brazenly bash each other with unfiltered content.
On the Bright Side
We can blame the tech industry for this enigma. But we have to give some tech companies credit for taking action.
Last year, Facebook rolled out an AI feature to find suicidal tendencies in its users’ activities. They are hoping to curb suicides faster than behavioral experts do.
But tech has more to offer.
- Create rules. The time is ripe for tech to create behavioral health guidelines. It encourages app developers to add features that limit use or uphold wellness. These rules will police the industry and prevent abuse.
- Regulate usage. An average person spends two hours per day on social media. The industry must urge users to cut usage. Several studies have proven how unhealthy and unproductive some digital platforms are when abused.
- Offer tools. Before it goes out of hand, the industry must step forward. Tech companies must acknowledge the problem and develop tools to promote health and wellbeing.
What Lies Ahead
We have ample ground to cover, especially with mental and emotional health.
While the tech industry did not start suicide, we must face its reality several times over until we have a definite solution.
Through meaningful dialogues, we can address the problem.
Technology still has time to use its ubiquitous power for the betterment of mankind.
It’s not too late.