An Anxious America: Technology Booms and Relationships Fail

The use of technology has become an unavoidable task.  We are required to utilize emails for work and blackboards as students; as workers we actively use the internet, programs, and devices for tracking.  Socially we can’t get enough of Facebook, Twitter, or other social sites.  Texting has become the new phone call.  Landlines have come to be a thing of the very distant past.  What was once private chatter has now become an appropriate status update. 

If we look into how technology developed throughout the years, we can see that the gap of time gets smaller as we shoot into the future.

Television took nearly 84 years to develop into flat screens and HD.  Cell phones took about 65 years to become smart phones and have the internet in our fingers.  The internet was commercialized in 1995.  That is 17 years for the process to become extremely socialized.  The history of technology, as we can see, has a way of taking much less time to develop.  Human development has not increased, sure our lives are longer, but not any more productive.  We actively take longer to head towards adulthood than it took our parents.  Some of the very basic social patterns have led humans farther away from development.  We know that human development can be prolonged by things such as bad economic conditions.  However, what else is adding to these developmental stages taking longer to complete now than they did in the past?  Could technology be another catalyst?

In Erickson’s stages of development each stage has a conflict.  Erickson was very aware that the cultural and social ideals were going to influence these stages.  The stage of identity verses role confusion is when social relationships are beginning to take shape.  We are no longer constructed inside of our family, but have a significant influence from the social relationships that we become a part of.  We are impacted by the social technology and internet friends that we decide to interact with.  We are becoming more and more isolated through technology.  So maybe the stage in which we develop through peer social relationships and bring that into early adulthood is melting?  Maybe we are socially lacking, and therefore professionally and productively lacking?

What lacks significantly in the technology driven society is listening.  The act of listening summons the kind of critical thinking that has brought about some of the great movements and ideas of time.  Active listening would require you to put technology down and to engage with another human being.  I dare you to try it.  I just told my little sister the other day, that I believe for a good 5-8 years I was more concerned with what I would say next than actively listening to anyone.  As a therapist, we are taught to listen.  Maybe we all need to go back to school of listening and social etiquette .  I fear technology is making us anxious and isolated, causing all kinds of our relationships to fail.


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