As technology and humanity become more intertwined, it’s hard to see what’s real, what matters, and keep our heads above water. “Technology has solved old economic problems by giving us new psychological problems. The Internet has not just open-sourced information; it has also open-sourced insecurity, self-doubt, and shame.” – Mark Manson, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F#ck
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I read this book and actually started this post in response to that paragraph from it back in early July. I think about the pros and cons of technology in a social context a lot as I read about loneliness, isolation, mental health, etc, and see materialism and flashy photos of perfect bodies and things and homes and lives slide across my laptop and phone screens daily.
It’s funny how something meant to bring us together can push us so far apart via comparison, jealousy, and insecurity. It seems like technology, while a wonderful thing, almost always gets taken a step too far. Is it human nature to be destructive like this? How do things unravel so far and get so out of control?
As we introduce more and more technology into our lives–presumably to give us more time to just “be” or get more done in less time–do we essentially drain ourselves of the human aspects we’re after (more connection, new relationships, time to create and learn new things)? Does technology make us love less, chase more, and always fall short? I don’t think technology is always bad, but at what point do we decide we’ve pushed it too far and back off for the sake of self-preservation and the good of society as a whole?
Technology and Humanity: Are We Already Fighting the Invisible War?
People have made movies and written stories about technology getting out of hand and attacking humankind. Are we already fighting this invisible war between technology and humanity? It seems to take a lot more effort to embrace things that make us human–love, connection, belonging, teamwork–these days than it used to since everything’s a click away and a checkmark in a planner.
Perfection and Materialism: Peering into Others’ (Empty?) Lives with Technology
It’s harder for us, I think, to get out of our own way and see other people as more than their highlight reels since that’s usually all we see online. So we strive harder, compete, judge (others and ourselves), think no one needs us because they already have it together so much better than we do (and we wouldn’t dare admit weakness and approach them for help, either). While technology gives us the illusion of holding us together, is it ripping us apart at the seams?
Perfection’s pull feels stronger than gravity sometimes I can see things spiraling out of control. Can we pull ourselves together as a whole and stop it, pull back from the brink of forgetting how to be fully human? How do we bring light to the dark spaces when the majority of us are being blinded by the glare of all the shiny things we pretend fill us up and make us whole?
When we’re spinning on a ride at an amusement park or in dance lessons, we’re taught to choose a focal point to avoid getting dizzy. Obviously, that focal point needs to stay still as we turn and move. It helps us keep our lunch down and complete the ride or dance, hopefully, without anything going awry.
We Have to Focus
If we don’t focus our vision on something steady and instead just watch everything in our line of sight blur and whiz by–the forever-shifting fashion trends, absurd ideals of what the human body (and face and hair) should look like, dream mansions, flashy cars, and the newest gadgets–society can make us sick and bring us to our knees.
We have to focus. On goodness and soul and love and God and service and actual togetherness. On nourishing ourselves and each other. On building each other up, not tearing each other down because we feel inadequate, worthless, or threatened by other people’s perceived perfection. These are what will keep us sane and human. These things are how we survive and get stronger.
Are humans as a whole stepping back out of the cyclone more these days, or less? It’s hard to tell. What do you think? It’s definitely easier to stay trapped in the mental prison technology is so willing to provide, but it’s so much more rewarding to use it as a tool to enrich the human experience. I’m making a conscious effort this year to live more like I did before social media became such a substitute for real life (it is so easy to let it consume me, due to my personality and circumstances).
Go out, be vulnerable, and love those “perfect” (imperfect) people. Let’s all embrace what it really means to be human. We’re all really the same; we’re just wearing different versions of the same mask.