This picture can be seen everyday in schools, bars, trains, buses, on the street, and make everyone wonder and worry about the next generation and the qualities in life that are lost since we got an easily accessible computer and the power of the internet on our pockets. A writer for the Huffington post says in his article “I see this problem as one of the biggest plagues in our society since the bubonic plague”. But is that such a big deal? Is this something we should worry about and try our hardest to change?
Let’s take a step back and look at the very broad picture that is technology. Technology was and is designed to make tasks easier, faster and more efficient. As technology evolved, we were able to build bigger things and increase production speeds, further develop our culture and ultimately improve our well-being.
Of course such improvements have had some drawbacks for a small portion of the total population. A great example of this phenomenon is the new factory equipment replacing the middle class worker. The factory owner is happy making more money, the product is in faster production, total human effort is reduced to minimal and overall progress is made. On the other hand, the middle class worker is now unemployed and cannot provide an income for his family leading to a lower quality of his life.
I like to see this process as natural elimination, survival of the fittest. As technology starts relieving workers from menial tasks, the work force is forced to better educate themselves and use their brain power to reach positions that are yet to be full filled by machines and computers.
Progress is done, the overall welfare of the population is increased, and people who are not able to reach the required level of education are left behind and in the long run, perish.
It might sound like this is a very dark place that we live in but the truth is that life is not fair. The most intelligent species will always conquer the lower species and the same happens with more educated and less educated people.
Coming back to the picture shown above, a group of young girls is at an amusement park with their heads stuck on their cell phones. According to Emily Skorin, going 24 hours without a phone proved to have both negative but also positive results. The cell phone and the internet are the new factory equipment and the middle class worker is the act of spending time with friends at an amusement park. (Notice that I avoid comparing the worker with “having fun with friends” as being in the same room with friends while looking at your phone can be considered equally fun for today’s generations).
There is no doubt that the cell phone and the internet, like the factory equipment, has made our lives easier and improve the overall quality of life of the population. Evolution requires sacrifice to go forward: past years has been a unemployed factory worker and today it’s something different. I am very confident that this is just a small transitional event until the worker decides to educate himself better, in order to be able to survive.
Ultimately, we don’t have a choice about those small losses that evolution of technology is paired with. They are unavoidable. In order to improve and move our community forward, we don’t have a choice but to accept small sacrifices such as eye contact with our friends.