Saturday, 4 March 2017

Digital Dilemmas, Part 4 (How we are Affected Psychologically)



Leunig cartoon
Edward R.Murrow

Personally, I think there are few things as gratifying in all of these techno capabilities as the freedom and accessibility of information. To be able to simply click into a page, type a few words in a search engine and instantly come up with a whole list of possible answers to our question or information requirement is truly something of a wonder and it was not there just a few short decades ago.

Instant information, instant access to libraries, archives, books, knowledge of every kind, videos, you name it, it is now all accessible through the technologies that so many of us are enjoying in the privacy and comfort of our own homes.

Anything at all can be 'Googled' or typed into whatever search engine we like to use and a list of responses immediately pop up on our computer screens. The information age has well and truly dawned and in many ways it is amazing and it is incredibly useful and potentially liberating. I have certainly put these technologies to good use in recent years as have lots and lots of other people.

We have created an engrossing cyber world, with many possibilities suddenly available to all and sundry and ordinary people are finding that they are spending more and more time in front of their screens. With the increase of information available on all fronts, how do we discern what is really helpful or not? Our ability to discriminate and make good and informed choices becomes crucial when there is so much information available.

Whoever it was that said 'information is power' certainly hit the nail on the head. Information is indeed power and on one level this can be incredibly liberating. But there is always a flip-side too.
So much information is so readily available to us instantaneously that we can quickly feel a bit overwhelmed. There is a sensory overload that can happen. Certainly, there is a point when too much information is, well, just too much.

When the mind is always preoccupied and busy,  it can bring on a sense of disconnection and disorientation. Unless we monitor our time on the net more closely and work in a structured, planned way with clear objectives and time deadlines, we risk being gobbled up by the sheer mass of information and 'interesting stuff' that is freely and easily available.

There are also other issues which are beginning to emerge as people start to spend more and more time on, for instance, their smartphones. In a very short time, these devices have become not only commonplace but indispensable to many, many people. We see a whole new form of addiction emerging. The addiction of needing to be constantly 'validated,' the addiction of needing to be constantly 'engaged,' constantly pre-occupied.

Have you ever noticed how many times you are reaching for your phone during the day, checking this, responding to that? The mind is almost feverishly searching out new stimulation almost all of the time and our smartphones can deliver it.

This incessant engagement can, and is, in turn leading to higher levels of anxiety. There is a compulsiveness in the way that many of us now use our smartphones. When we are separated from our devices, or if we find ourselves outside a wifi or connectivity area a whole different kind of anxiety kicks in. Separation anxiety.

It can also be noted that a new form of depression is arising from the overuse of certain digital technologies which are ushering in a whole new set of obsessions along with their concurrent psychological repercussions.

Continue Reading in: Are Smartphones Making Fools of Us All?


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