Can you ever be too connected? This is a question I often ask myself when skimming through articles discussing the latest devices and technologies. Connectivity has become such a staple in our societies that it can often be hard to imagine life before cellphones, laptops and smart appliances. In gaining the ease and efficiency of technology however, what is society losing? Laptops have replaced pen and paper; Skype has replaced in-person meetings and automation has taken jobs but is this all?
Are you Too Connected?
Sidepart’s recent articles explored the idea and importance of IoT. Today we will look at the good, the bad and the ugly sides of IoT to determine what is truly lost in a connected world.
In many ways, IoT has been great for society. It has led to a knowledge-based world, where we can learn more about every aspect of life. Access to this knowledge has been transformative, acting as the basis for innovation and new research. With IoT, we have benefited from:
- Improved Decision Making. With access to so much data, people are generally more informed. This allows us to make more effective and strategic decisions in business and our personal lives.
Data Democracy – A google search reveals the same results to everyone. This allows people of every socioeconomic status to have access to the same information and be able to equally use and benefit from this data.
- Efficiency. Our days can be spent focusing on the most productive and innovative tasks when we can give the mindless tasks to Google Assistant or get our groceries delivered to our home. Furthermore, production efficiency improves through machinery communication. This shows where the bottlenecks are and what machines need repairs so that more time is spent on productive work thereby saving time and money.
- Information Sharing. With IoT, humans, and devices can share information between them. This has led to the use of crowdsourcing, crowdfunding, and discussion platforms in which people can share ideas and work out problems to create great things. Furthermore, devices can share information between them to create more accurate data sets and self-learn thereby, improving the technologies themselves.
- Human Connection. With the internet, we can keep in touch with friends all around the world. This helps to build more relationships and exposes us to a variety of cultures, traditions, and behaviours. Because of this, we can pull knowledge from all around the world and develop a better understanding of humanity.
As with everything, there is a downside to IoT. With constant connectivity, humans have opened themselves to more distraction, being “on” and homogenous thinking.
- Distraction. Instagram, Twitter, Netflix, Angry Birds. These are just a few of the millions of ways we can waste our time. With direct access to so much entertainment, it can be difficult to pull ourselves away from watching that 10th Netflix episode.
- Being “On”. Thanks to email and texting, employees are reachable 24/7. This removes the barriers between work and one’s personal life, making it difficult for people to take time for themselves. The pressure to always be available can be hurtful to one’s mental health and happiness.
- Homogenous Thinking. Before Google, if I was having a hard time building a desk or thinking about the meaning of life, I would spend time coming up with creative answers to my questions. Now, a quick google search will give me a variety of answers to all my questions. This opens up the possibility of relying upon others to tell us what to think or how to solve issues and removes our potential for innovation and creativity through independent.
I believe the downsides above are not the most concerning issues with connectivity. The loss of social interaction is.
Humans are social creatures. We need social interactions and relationships to live a happy and full life. With technology, however, the ability to build and maintain strong relationships is becoming more difficult. Instead of meeting friends for coffee, we’ll “like” their photo. Instead of going to a restaurant or grocery store, we’ll Uber Eats. Instead of meeting in-person, we’ll send an email. Technology has become a barrier to stopping relationships from being built.
Now awareness could help solve this issue, but it requires more than independent awareness because we are all prone to it. Next time you’re at a restaurant, look around. How many tables are sitting in silence, going through their phones? Society as a whole is so afraid of missing out on what Pam posted on Instagram, or what Tom texted them, that we have forgotten how to interact and be social. As these behaviours continued, we will teach our children to behave in the same way until it has become hardwired in us to prioritize our digital presence rather than our physical one. This is a big problem for one’s social skills and happiness. Who wants to live in a world where we’re all sad and don’t interact?
Where does that leave us?
When looking at the good, bad and ugly of IoT, it’s hard to know where to draw the line. How much bad are we willing to accept to have the good? There is no simple answer, and everyone will have their own opinion. Therefore, all of us need to decide what level of connectivity we are ok with based upon the good and the bad. Once we have an opinion, we have the power to influence the role of technology in our daily lives through the products we purchase and the companies we support.
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Briggs, J. (2018, July 11). How technology is making us more productive. Retrieved from https://blog.matrixlms.com/how-technology-is-making-us-more-productive/
Frischmann, B. (2018, September 20). There’s Nothing Wrong with Being a Luddite. Retrieved from https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/observations/theres-nothing-wrong-with-being-a-luddite/
Schoenfeld, P. (2019, February 17). Are we too connected? Or not connected enough? Retrieved from https://www.heraldnet.com/life/are-we-too-connected-or-not-connected-enough/
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