The 21st century has seen an increase in the use of technology. Scenarios of individuals walking while listening to their iPods, people at restaurants using their iPads or mobile phones are common. Young children at homes are increasingly playing video games. In colleges and other institutions of higher learning, students are increasingly using technology devices such as the iPod, to listen to music between classes and also sometimes during lectures. Based on different literature, there are very differing views on whether technology does cause social isolation or whether it increases social interaction. How technology leads to social isolation or increases social interaction depends on how an individual uses the technology. Additionally, the ability to manage technology use by an individual also affects the influence of technology on the individual.
Current technology increases access to the internet and social media. How individuals relate is being greatly influenced by the current technologies. People hanging in groups are more focused in their devices than with each other or their surroundings. Level of physical interactions thus tends to decrease among people who knew each other. Around the globe, there are increased reports of cases of individual overindulging in using the internet via various devices. The increase in the use of technology has greatly affected how individuals relate and interact with each other. A country like China for instance is currently experiencing increased cases of teenager being addicted to online gaming. Parents are more worried as they find it difficult to communicate with teenagers whose attitude become unpleasant. Internet addiction is considered a psychiatric disorder in some countries, such as China. Individuals are over using these technologies especially the internet to the extent that they develop mental health problems
Impact of technology on Social interaction
Human beings have a need to associate and interact with one another. Before the increase in technology and social networks, people would meet up and interact in various social places whether business or family events. The level of physical interaction provided increased ties between friends and acquaintances. Currently, the use of social media and online communication has increased the level of social interaction. Communication with friends in distant places is now faster, and people are keeping in touch constantly. However, according to Jayson (2012), strong ties in online relationships are not common. The ability of an individual to use social media to increase one’s personal network has resulted to an individual becoming lazy in terms of developing face-to-face relationships without the help of social media (Jayson, 2012). This is a common case where an individual has 1000 friends on Facebook yet his or her offline relationships cannot exceed 50 individuals. According to Omole and Ayeni (2013), online platforms allow people to make their lives more interesting than it is in reality. Likewise, people who tend to have poor offline relationships tend to focus more on their online relationships, as they can be able to associate with a person that makes them happy. The individual will then continue to focus on living an online life rather than an offline life, which then reduces the level of offline interaction. In schools and colleges where most people have access to iPods and Smartphones, people to be more concerned with their devices rather than with the people around them. The result is an increase in use of technology and a decrease in conventional interaction between people.
People are using social networks as a base for identifying their social life. However, social media only enhances relationships that have been formed in the normal conventional way of face-to-face conversations. With social media, one tends to have the tendencies to provide information concerning what one is currently doing and at the same time read what other individuals are doing. The result is that an individual tends to be immersed in the technology world to the extent of avoiding physical interactions. A scenario of a person posting a picture just for the sake of attracting comments is common among young people. In Twitter, people tend to be more concerned on the number of followers’ one has yet in real life, a person’s circle of friends continue to reduce. According to Martin (2013), technology companies are continuing to enhance the user experience of devices. This then will likely lead to more individuals increasing the number of personal technologies they use with a constant access to technologies. At dinners between couples or in business meetings interruptions may tend to affect how people relate or associate with each other. Furthermore, Martin (2013) provides a clear example of how technology can create isolation in a relationship. He notes that a common situation between couples in restaurants is characterized by one individual being engrossed using the Smartphone, as the other just gazes across the table. What this implies to the individual gazing across the table is that he or she is of less importance than what is on the Smartphone.
Furthermore, the constant use of different technologies is slowly rewiring the human brain and causing certain behavior modifications in individuals. According to Jayson (2012), constant use of technology tends to increase a person’s mental dependence on the technology. This then has the effect of making people develop obsessive disorders and narcissistic behaviors that affect how an individual relates with other people. The lack of practicing human communication skills may result in the weakening of the basic skills of human interaction.
Access to the internet highly influences the behavior patterns of individuals. Most internet heavy users tend to spend more than three hours on the internet rather than communicating with other people face-to face. Various activities on the internet can keep an individual occupied. For instance, online gaming, online shopping and just normal browsing are some of the activities that increase internet addition. Internet addiction through use of social media fosters an increase in relationships but compromises the quality these relationships. The result is that an individual who spends more time on the internet will be more socially isolated than one who spends time on focusing on face-to-face relationships. As Jayson (2012), notes, internet addiction increases the likelihood of an individual developing depression. Depression makes people want to be lonely and affects how one interacts with others. An Individual with depression experiences difficulty associating with other people and will not likely express what they feel. Employees with internet addiction are likely to be involved in contributing to increasing internet cost of an organization (Kennedy, 2013). Additionally, their job performance deteriorates resulting layoffs, which sets off a chain of events of depression and loneliness.
Internet addiction also causes people to lose faith or trust in someone. Kennedy (2013) provides an example of Antony Weiner whose life has changed because of the influence of internet addiction. The exposure of his internet activities has led him to lose his congressional seat and affect his mayoral bids. Cleary his internet behaviors have reduced his social circles, which only results to him becoming further isolated. Being a family, man the wife may feel neglected and betrayed and in some cases, such a situation may create a rift between a husband and a wife, which then may lead to divorce.
A number of online activities tend to cause human behavioral modification. These online activities include online sexual activity, cyber stalking and online gambling (Omole and Ayeni, 2013). There is a lot of pornographic material on the internet, and its access has affected how individuals relate in the physical world. According to Omole and Ayeni (2013), the anonymity of online interactions encourages individual to start exploring and experimenting their sexual fantasies without the fear of being caught. Individual will thus want to engage in online sexual activities when they are alone. The continued addiction to online sexual occupations thus tends to make an individual want to spend more time alone as the internet offers new sexual opportunities for the individual to explore. The more an individual engages in his online sexual activities, the more they create imaginations and fantasies they want to explore. A man that involves in high levels of online sexual activity, for example, may start viewing women as sexual objects. This then disrupts how a person communicates and relates with a woman. This in turn makes the person to avoid relating with women altogether and because of the need to satisfy his sexual urges, the person ends up spending more and more time on the internet trying to satisfy his sexual behaviors. Omole and Ayeni (2013), note that recovering online sexual addicts normally experience a variety of personal problems such as divorce and relocation. Consequently, this results to them immersing themselves in the virtual world disconnecting themselves from human interaction for the sole purposes of fulfilling their sexual desires.
Internet addicts normally have different online and offline emotions. According to Omole and Ayeni (2013), internet addicts normally feel frustrated, angry, anxious and depressed when offline. On the other hand, when they are online they feel more alive and excited. Thus, in an attempt to feel excited they tend to spend more and more time on the internet to avoid feelings of loneliness or depression or anxiety (Gibson, 2011). Thus, the internet addict will resort to using the internet as a place of peace and happiness, which results to the user using the internet when life challenges and problems become too much. The internet addict tends to focus on developing virtual relationships at the expense of conventional face-to-face relationships.
Internet addiction also causes people to make poor financial decisions (Gibson, 2011). Access to the internet via the various technology devices like Smartphones tends to support excessive shopping behaviors in some people. Consequently, people will tend to be drawn to anything on the internet that indicates a bargain. This then makes individuals to invest a lot of their time and money in online shopping and gambling. Furthermore, the increase in online gambling also causes a reduction in offline social interaction. Teenagers tend to engage in excessive online gaming decreasing their involvement in physical activities with friends. Increased online gaming causes the teenagers to lose interest in engaging in other activities. In China, excessive online gaming has become such a prevalent issue, which has led to the development of institutions to treat this addictive online gaming problem among teens. The increased preoccupation with online gambling and online gaming makes people to lie about their gambling or online gaming, thus end up withdrawing from family, friends, and use gaming or gambling as a form of psychological escape (Omole and Ayeni, 2013). Just as gambling and online gaming increases social isolation, an increase use of Smartphones tends to alienate people from social interaction (Grossman, 2014). Kennedy (2013) notes that the increase access to Smartphones tends to interrupt business meetings with the constant buzzing. Over-dependence on Smartphones makes people assume that the phone is always buzzing, a condition referred to as “phantom-vibration syndrome” (Dokoupil, 2012).
Cyber stalking has been on the rise as more individuals have access to other people’s private information accessed easily on the social networks (Kennedy, 2013). Social platforms encourage the cyber stalking and abuse. This is normally the case among young teenagers. Cases of cyber bullying of individuals who seem like outcasts or social misfits tend to increase alienation among individuals. The verbal abuse may make a teenager refuse going to school or associate with people. Victims experiencing cyber bullying normally have increased deterioration in mental and physical health. Since cyber bullying does not allow the victim to identify the harasser, depression develops and feelings of isolation escalate. Victims will normally tend to stay in their houses where they feel safe or where people cannot recognize them
Technology does not lead to isolation
Indeed, it is proven that technology increases a person’s social network (Daily Mail, 2009). Individuals that have embraced new forms of technology have been able to diversify their friendship base. People from different parts of the world can keep in touch constantly through social media and mobile phones. Heavy internet users such as bloggers tend to be actively engaged in community service. Social platforms are being used to assist the elderly counter social isolation.
Despite the arguments that technology is important in enhancing social networks, the real issue relates to what level of connectivity or association it provides. Befriending people on social media who have not met physically may just turn out to be more of followers or fans than friends. The additive online behaviors provide clear justification of ways that technology, especially overuse of the internet can socially isolate individuals. Smartphone obsession creates business interruptions in meetings (della Cava, 2011). Stigmatization results in cases where a person’s online preoccupations become public. As stated earlier, this may have repercussions such as having friends live and the public trust in a person declining especially in cases where a person is a public figure.
I imagine my audience being hostile. This is because most of individuals associate technology and the internet with increasing a person’s social network and friends.
The central claim of the essay focuses on the social negative aspect of indulging in overuse of technology. The main opposing points of view mainly centered on increased connectivity and increase in a person’s social network.
Refuting Opposing Arguments and Challenges
The essay provides supporting detailed examples on how social isolation can occur from the overuse of technology. The main challenge was trying not to move from discussing the social isolation aspect of technology.
Despite the fact that technology has enhanced global connectivity, problems emanating from the overuse of technology, continue to increase. The debate on technology being good or bad has ensued for long with some people acknowledging that technology is indeed bad for if not used correctly or appropriately. Different research indicates that technology does influence human behavior. People are able to make online identity match their fantasies hence ending up living an online life rather than a real life. Online sexual preoccupations, gambling, and gaming contribute to the development of depression and anxiety among internet addicts. Families are being affected by the increase in use of technologies. Scenarios of parents always using their Smartphones reduce their attention to their children and spouses. Children tend to pick up the same behaviors from their parents and tend to indulge in over use of technology. Furthermore, relationships formed online tend to have weak emotional ties as compared to offline relationships. Technology offers an individual escape from confronting real life issues and problems. The use of technology needs to be controlled especially among young children. It is important for people to realize that social isolation is becoming more and more prevalent, and approaches and techniques need to be developed to control the overuse of technology to prevent its negative aspects, which sometimes causes health problems.
DailyMail. (2009, November 12). Technology DOESN'T isolate people: New study shows the Internet and mobile phones increase your social network. Mail Online. Retrieved March 5, 2014, from http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-1225758/Technology-DOESNT-isolate-people-New-study-shows-Internet-mobile-phones-increase-social-network.html
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Martin, S. (2013, Apr 09). Is the world really ready for this? USA TODAY. Retrieved from http://sks.sirs.com
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