Technology is the use of scientific knowledge for practical purposes or applications, whether in industry or in our everyday lives. Whenever we use our scientific knowledge to achieve some specific purpose, we often use technology.
Technology, of course, is a double-edged sword. It can be used to help mankind, but also to harm it. We need to understand that it is not technology but humans using technology who wield it to cause harm. Thus, atomic energy can produce unlimited power with very little carbon footprint, but atom bombs can destroy life on this planet.
Addiction to technology
Technology addiction, sometimes called Internet addiction, Internet use disorder (IUD) or Internet addiction disorder (IAD), is a fairly new phenomenon. It’s often described as a serious problem involving the inability to control use of various kinds of technology, in particular the internet, smartphones, tablets, and social networking sites like Facebook, Twitte, Instagram etc.
Even if addiction to different types of technology isn’t yet a recognised disorder on its own, the problem has been on the radar of health professionals since the 1990s. Like other types of addiction, technology addiction can range from moderate to severe, and some researchers say that like other addictions, people who use their phones or stay online for many hours a day experience a similar “high” and also feel withdrawal when cut off. It’s not simply the amount of time spent with the digital device that defines an addict, though, but how excessive use adversely affects someone’s mental and physical health, daily life, relationships and academic or job performance.
For every 100 hours we spend talking on the phone, we drastically increase the risk of brain cancer. According to an article on psychology today, 40% of the American population suffers from this addiction. On top of this, 58% of men and 47% of women suffer from Nomophobia, i.e. the fear of being without a smartphone. 44% of the people have stated that they become very anxious when they lose their phones and become phoneless for an entire week. The study also showed that while more women (76%) used their smartphones in the bathroom as compared to men (74%), men were more attached to their phones as compared to women. Despite having checked their phones about two seconds earlier, people tend to have an urge to check it again. About 80% of the people have experienced false vibrations and around 30% have heard ringing that simply did not exist. 95% of people text, browse the web, or watch TV in the hour before they finally fall asleep.
Less physical activity
Children are becoming weaker, less muscular and unable to do physical tasks that previous generations found simple, with the growing dependency on technology. In a study by Essex University, comparing 309 children from 1998 and 315 children in 2008 who are 10 years old showed that the number of sit-ups 10-year-olds can do declined by 27.1% between 1998 and 2008. Arm strength fell by 26% and grip strength by 7%. While one in 20 children in 1998 could not hold their own weight when hanging from wall bars, one in 10 could not do so in 2008.
Research has already shown that children are becoming more unfit, less active and more sedentary and, in many cases, heavier than before. But the new study also found that children in 2008 had the same body mass index (BMI) as those a decade earlier. Lead author Daniel Cohen, of London Metropolitan University, said this meant that, given their declining strength, the bodies of the recent test group are likely to contain more fat and less muscle than their predecessors.
Technology and creativity
The predominance of technology and smartphones in particular has led to many suggestions that creativity is being affected by our reliance on these tools. Creativity is often referred to as a “use it or lose it” discipline. One might work in a creative job role, but even he or she could be strangling your creativity by being fastened to a device constantly. There are templates for everything and even academic information is available all over the internet, resulting in more piracy and allegedly, less creative thought when it comes to academic settings. Technology is affecting creativity to a certain extent, but it’s not dead. It’s becoming the battle of machine versus man, where man can win based on imagination (if we are willing to nurture it).
Technology is here to stay and only continues to advance, so perhaps one of the most sensible arguments is for a balanced consumption of technology and information. The difficulty now is that in an age of information overload, our brains need to be trained to avoid the glut and filter only what is needed. This fits in with what we know about needing to nurture the right environment for creativity.
Technology and Spirituality
Our ancient rishis understood the importance of technology in a yogi’s life. One of the oldest books on yoga is the Patanjali Yoga Darshan and almost one-fourth of it is devoted to how a yogi can achieve superhuman powers so as to free himself from the vagaries of nature.
Technology also gives us an ever-increasing access to choices and may fuel our greed. The fear of missing out, after all, is very high. Thus, all the development models based on technology will become untenable if we do not put a cap on our greed for materials, resources and energy. Spirituality can give us wisdom so as to keep our greed in check and may allow us to use technology judiciously for us to live a happy and meaningful life. As individuals we create technologies for our own selfish needs and, depending on our spiritual progress, may or may not use them for the betterment of mankind. But collectively, spiritual and technological progress follows the natural evolution of humans towards an advanced civilisation. And all our individual shortcomings are swept away by the stream of evolution for the general good.