Editor’s note: This is a contributed post by Dr. Luis Almeida, an Associate Professor of Communications Media at Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP). He can be reached via email.
Computer technology is everywhere, in multiple formats, under different patents, most calling for the same outcome behavior – use. Unfortunately, computer use can’t be sustained for too much longer without a severe impact. Computers are supposed to make our lives better but sometimes, its side effects cause more damage than good.
In this article, I’m going to talk about how we are turning into machines without realizing it, the impact this has on our global society, and a potential solution to break out of this. My goal is to help you to take charge of unnecessary machine-like demands that modern computer technology has been imposing on us.
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Hi, I’m Luis. First off, I don’t hate technology. In fact, I make a living teaching it to my students. I am a Professor of Communications Media at Indiana University of Pennsylvania and I study the impacts of technology in learning.
Recently, I gave a TEDx Talk titled, “Breaking Free From Technology” at TEDxPhoenixville in the United States. In it, I presented research results on the impacts of technology on human behavior along with a provocative thought that when you use computers excessively, you won’t be free of side effects.
By the way, I am also predicting a global anxiety epidemic by the year 2024, plus an increased obesity problem due to the extensive use of computerized devices, despite our attempts to eat healthier.
Not safe from turning into computers
The human brain wasn’t made to process large amounts of information continuously without rest. Our brains have limited capacities, will get tired, and break down overtime if we continue to abuse them. It isn’t rocket science or science fiction, it is plain common sense. The idea that we can emulate the machine, without experiencing side effects, is dangerous.
In reality, societies are already emulating the pace of living of the machine and setting societal norms based on computer behavior. We are using smartphones and iPads at the dinner table, tweeting about an emergency first before calling for help, and working not from 9-to-5 but from 9-to-forever.
We are constantly being bombarded by email alerts, facebook notifications, tweets, texts, etc and working during vacations and almost always well into the night. And we let that happen to us.
Read Also: 5 Epic Ways We Misuse Mobile Technology
man And Computer Are Different
If you haven’t noticed, the human brain wasn’t made to work on a constant flow of information overload. It is a major error to comparatively measure the speed and processing power of modern computers with our working brains, especially as a means to dictate work productivity levels and expectations.
Man and machine, they are very different. When our computers don’t perform to our expectations, we put in more RAM or simply get a faster computer. But when we’re talking about humans, we can’t be working 60 hours a week, even though this is the accepted reality of our times today.
Being connected is actually forcing us to work more longer and faster than before. Thus we force our brains to work constantly like a computer. Ironically, computers must function logically to work. Humans often behave illogically but amazingly, we "work" even under these circumstances.
What’s In Store For Us?
Our relationship with computers will take us through three phases:
Process Of Transformation
We are living now in the middle of what I call the process of transformation. It is a period where humans are starting to become robotic in behavior due to high frequency and extended exposure of computer use – the higher the frequency and exposure, the quicker the transformation.
In this phase, humans are more humans than machine (in behavior).
Computer Robot Syndrome
After the transformation process, the global community will exhibit computer robot syndrome. It will also be a temporary phase, but different from the process of transformation, humans will behave more like machines, resulting in high levels of logic, immediacy, and quick behavioral responses.
During this phase, creativity will take a major dip.
Total Burn Out
In about a decade, computer use will accentuate to a level that the human brain won’t be able to catch up, resulting in a total global burn out era. I call this phase, the human reversal phase. As soon as our society experiences a mass epidemic of anxiety, millions are going to burn out and realize that computers are not an extension of man, but a tool that reminds us how human we are.
In the end, machines will end up reinforcing our humanity – making us realize our limitations, and how human we are. It is in this phase that humans will behave more like humans as we understand and question machine behavior.
The bad news is that until the human reversal phase arrives, we are temporarily going to behave like a machine and see no wrong with it, working ourselves to death, and accepting it as a fact of life.
Thanks to God, I experienced my technology burn out. As a consequence, I have personally experienced the human reversal phase. I am not a machine and no computerized device is an extension of me. I am now 25 pounds lighter, still work long hours but will take breaks in between, honor my wife and can even find time to go to Church on Sundays, and exercise.
You don’t want to be an extension of anything, especially of a machine, trust me. Taking a step back from using the computer is like taking an aspirin when having a fever. It helps but it doesn’t solve the problem. It only fixes the consequences.
It is only after a total technology burn out from mental exhaustion and fatigue that folks will stop their computer-like neurotic behaviors. Brace yourselves, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.