The deathly price of technology
We live in a technology-dominated society. The same technology that was once invented to make communication more accessible has been abused and is now controlling our lives. Not only are most of us blinded to these damaging effects, but we have also become entirely dependent on it. Our lives are being lived through screens. Instead of meeting others serendipitously, we meet people through calculated swipes, filters, and by carefully sifting through artificially created profiles. And honestly? I don’t fucking care for any of it.
The reason I deactivated my Facebook is because I’m not strong enough to sift through the bullshit. To be constantly fed messages of positivity, of ‘happiness’, of success and prosperity. Facebook is not an accurate representation of reality. Nor is it real. It’s superficial. It’s artificial. And it’s destroying our wellbeing. The worst part about all of this though? Our brain has not, and will not, evolve fast enough to acknowledge that these are fundamental truths.
Consciously we can identify that Facebook (and when I refer to Facebook, I really mean all forms of media and news) is not an accurate representation of society. What we cannot do though, is we cannot stop the undeniably costly effect that all of this information is having on us subconsciously. Don’t believe me? Ask people if they are happy with their bodies and the majority of them will tell you no (if they’re being honest and not idealistic). We know we should love our bodies, but we don’t. And why don’t we? For the majority of us, it has absolutely nothing to do with traumatic experiences of being bullied, instead, it’s because of the millions of images we have been processing subconsciously since birth. We are constantly being fed images of what fit, healthy, and attractive bodies look like - consciously we can rationalise why ours don’t look like that (maybe it was photoshopped), but subconsciously, we can’t. Subconsciously we internalise. We compare. We criticise. All of which creates internal conflict, emptiness, and deep-rooted dissatisfaction.
Some heterosexual individuals might wonder why homosexual adolescents still struggle so much with their identity when society has made significant gains in accepting the LGBTQI+ community. And it’s because we still live in a very heterosexual dominant society. Homosexual characters are still severely underrepresented in the media; “We cannot be, what we cannot see.” Although opinions are becoming more accepting, individuals still internalise their sexuality as being ‘wrong’. To them, it still isn’t considered ‘normal’; they still have to ‘come out’. When was the last time a straight kid ever had to ‘come out’? How many parents discuss their child’s sexuality synonymously and as freely as they do with their achievements? It doesn’t happen. Because although consciously we might be more accepting, most of us internalise the subconscious messages from the media that being gay is still deemed ‘wrong’.
Many counterarguments I’ve heard regarding the destruction of technology on our wellbeing centres around the ‘positives’ of such media, such as the increased accessibility and connection to others. But is connecting via a screen really connecting? All it is is words. You lose tonality. You lose context. And you lose body language. So you lose 95% of communication. Words, as I’m sure anyone who has ever been burned by them in a relationship will agree, are superficial. They’re easy. Flimsy. Hollow. One of the main reasons I think relationships are faltering in today’s society is because of this flimsy and empty foundational basis in which two people try to create a life from. People are becoming masters of their vocabulary; articulating the perfect concoction of words to seduce you into believing they are everything they say they are. Perfect. Whole. Secure. But all of that is a lie. Why? Because none of us are any of those things. The problem? We can’t see it, because no one lives their truth.
And the truth is, we’re all broken. And damaged. And struggling. And although that should bring comfort to know we aren’t alone, it doesn’t. Because everyone is living this same paradoxical life. One in which struggles appear absent, negative emotions repressed, and authenticity lost. Who are you when you’re not trying to be someone else? Because that’s the person this world needs to see. If you won’t do it for yourself, do it for your brother, your sister, your mother, your father, your daughter, your son – all of whom are suffering in silence much like you. What the world needs is it needs individual heroes. It needs individuals to stand in the confidence of themselves, their real selves, to show the world what it means to be human. In struggle and in success. In defeat and in prosperity. In rage and in joy. People can’t be what they can’t see – so be the hero you want to see in this world.
I heard an acclaimed author the other day say something like, “Don’t share your problems with the world in real-time, it’ll just look like you’re doing it for attention. Wait until you have learned the lesson and gotten through it before you share the struggles of your private life.” So individuals instead need to struggle in silence? That contradicts the very social nature in which we were designed. Often the hardest problems can only be resolved with a fresh pair of eyes, new ears, and alternative perspectives. Our old thoughts and methods will ultimately become stale and eventually lose their efficacy. We need to stop telling others not to feel these so called ‘negative emotions’. Nothing in this world ever changed from indifferent, emotionless individuals. We need anger; it’s the fuel that proceeds change. And it might just be the fuel that saves humanity.
Right now, I’m struggling. I’m struggling to contain my deep-rooted resentment towards white oppressive men. I’m struggling to talk to people because I refuse to do so via a screen. And I’m struggling with wanting to get to know people. Why? Because the last girl that I gave my heart wholeheartedly to and who confessed to never having felt more herself, consciously and preferentially chose to surround herself around those who made her feel like her representative self. Her ideal self. Her unobtainable self. What this communicates to me is that people would rather pretend to be someone they are not than actually be themselves. And that, to me, is overwhelmingly heartbreaking. We are being conditioned to become emotionless robots, but we are not. We are still human. And we still feel. So instead, we are being filled with despair. And emptiness. And conflict. Society, and particularly the media, is encouraging us to be these representatives – everything is encouraging us to be anything, but ourselves.
I’m worried for our future. The advancement of technology is occurring at rates that evolution cannot withstand. Our brains are not equipped to successfully process the millions of messages we receive and internalise subconsciously every day. Because of this lag, our brain is dangerously deficient in coping and defence mechanisms to counteract this poison. That is why, I believe, we have seen, and will continue to see depression, anxiety, eating disorders, and suicide rates continue to rise at alarming rates. As beneficial as helplines are, they are merely temporary bandaids for the much more complex, universal, and potentially apocalyptical crisis that is affecting the world. And until we rebel against technology, it will continue to be the silent killer; killing us in the worst way possible because we are still alive.