Tech is making us less human

The individual is eventually being imprisoned digitally, distanced from real social interactions
Last Updated 31 March 2019, 18:52 IST

Human hands had a divine purpose in the pre-digital era. They helped revolutionise our leaps towards the future, mechanical as they were, in agriculture, industry, art and so on.

Today, the human touch, literally and metaphorically, has metamorphosed into taps and 3D touches, drops and drags, swipes and such, while smart gadgets take away the charm of natural discovery.

Books, for instance. Why we never got addicted to them like we have been to gadgets of late is curious. “Books explain us to ourselves, and make us feel less strange, less isolated and less alone,” writes philosopher Alain de Botton.

In the age of tech though, speaking or listening, our hands push buttons and tap links, eager to go back to them.

Much of our time is devoted to this. Are these acquired hand movements benefitting us? Tech wants to follow us to every space we inhabit, nudging us into compliance, as if we aren’t cognitive enough.

This trend challenging the human ability to decipher nature, is rendering us stupid. The trust deficit it spawns in human relationships notwithstanding. Increasingly, we need the handheld device to conform.

Failure to conduct ourselves in organic dialogue, with family, friends or in society, is crushing the fabric raised by ages of social evolution.

In the thickest of crowds or the comfort of family, it must look peculiar to another cognisant entity, that why one of the widespread and successful of creatures that rode evolution to their benefit, are seen with heads tilted down focused on gadgets. Our immediate social environs, Bengaluru for instance, may seem brimming with people. But each one is eventually being imprisoned digitally, distanced from real social interactions. Confirmation bias on the rise isn’t helping either.

To put this in perspective it may be necessary to recall the recent case of gaming addicts, mostly young adults, consulting psychiatrists at Nimhans’ SHUT clinic. The social media looms large as a threat to a robust society as we slowly become aware of its adverse effects on the young.

Depression and anxiety over a fear that one may not be socially accepted put the vulnerable in a fix, denying him/her even the ability to fit in a traditional social setting.

It is gnawing away at the very foundations of society as we spread falsehoods, and share memes that don’t serve a purpose than of shadeunfraude, helping fringe elements ride the monstrous digital wave.

This has immense psychological, familial, societal and political implications. If we are to escape a social breakdown, we have to clearly understand this and re-chart our course.

Diogenes of Sinope, one of the greatest of Greek philosophers who lived around 300 BC, shunned society and lived in a barrel because he believed social mores should reflect in one’s action than words.

Though the majority of the world’s societies have built themselves drawing from the Western value system, Diogenes, the Cynic, wasn’t convinced about the perfection of such a world even back then.

He used to hold up his lamp and walk the streets in broad daylight looking for an honest man.

Diogenes had a purpose and responsibility then. Now, we can’t afford to live in digital barrels with our own set of values and leave society be. Surely, we can start by showing our gadgets their place in our discourse.

(Published 31 March 2019, 12:15 IST)

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