The age of computers, laptops, cell phones and informational boom has affected people’s minds just as much as their lifestyles and habits. The technological development cannot be deemed absolutely good or, on the contrary, destructive for the society, as its effect on the mankind and on the world itself has both advantages and disadvantages. There are different approaches as to how new technology has changed the civilization and what could and should be done about it, some of which will be discussed below.
The article by Turkle suggests that the so-called BlackBerry revolution has made people able of constant multitasking and absorption of the non-stopping flow of information at the expense of their sensitivity and receptivity to the external factors. Virtual life nearly substitutes the real one when people choose to express themselves and their feelings, fulfill their dreams and achieve their goals online rather than close the laptop and do something substantial. Real life communication gives way to online chats as people tend to value those whom they talk to every day less than their Internet opponents and partners. Real conversations are “put on pause” (Turkle) as the priority is given to phone calls and online messages. New technology has made people’s mind more pragmatic, devaluing essential things such as real life communication or the expression of feelings as such having no use in them. Children who are brought up in such conditions and atmosphere already know no other way of self-expression except emoticons in chats; when they become teenagers and have got to learn how to look after themselves in different situations they feel no responsibility as with cell phones and permanent ability to call their parents for help they have no need to start making decisions by themselves. However, the technology in itself is not bad: it gives people brand new freedoms and opportunities. Robots safely see after the elderly, the Internet provides people with information, and different machines are designed to cure the sick. The problem is to what extent people let technology affect them, and whether it can deprive them from everything human.
Gladwell, on the other hand, argues that technological achievements have no power over people and their minds when it comes to serious decisions. It is not Twitter or Facebook messages that make people do things, it is their own free will and, therefore, their responsibility and risk. All the social networks do is “increase participation” (Gladwell) in various events, not the motivation. This means that networks do not make people more active or caring, or adventurous; they just manage to involve them in something by not asking much.
Nearly the same idea is supported by Baron, who in his article states the opinion that protests are not organized through and with the help of social networks, and people around the world treat such networks differently, sometimes even with “fear and distrust” (Baron). According to him, new technologies can “foment revolution, but they can also be used to suppress dissent” (Baron), thus, the Internet can accelerate the course of events, but cannot be the reason for them. Even when the whole system of communication is shut down, people will find the way to spread the word.
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The technological era has deeply affected contemporary society, both material and mental side of it. People became less vulnerable, but also less sensitive, less caring and more individualistic. Their attention is constantly split into pieces while they listen to the partners and check their mail at the same time. Modern people could seem more passive and indifferent in real life, substituting it with the virtual one. Nevertheless, even though the society depends on technology and has accommodated itself in various ways to meet its requirements, people do not need computers to make decisions for them. It is their sensible and responsible attitude towards technology that makes them humans.