The Adverse Effects Of Technology
(NOTE) The following is an excerpt of my upcoming book entitled, “MORPHING INTO THE REAL WORLD – THE HANDBOOK FOR ENTERING THE WORK FORCE.”
Today, our society is driven by technology and some would accuse me of being an anti-technologist. Having been actively involved with the Information Technology industry over the last 30 years, I can assure you this is simply not true. I have witnessed many different technological enhancements over the years, but what intriques me most is how it affects us socially. I firmly believe technology is purchased more as a fashion statement as opposed to any practical application. Consequently, we tend to under utilize or abuse the technology thereby costing companies millions of dollars. Instead of “Ready, Aim, Fire,” people tend to, “Fire, Aim, Ready.” In other words, people tend to implement the latest technology before they understand precisely what it is or what business need it serves. To me, this is putting the cart before the horse.
Perhaps the biggest difference between the 20th century and the 21st is how technology has changed the pace of our lives. We now expect to communicate with anyone on the planet in seconds, not days. We expect information at our fingertips. We expect to be up and walking shortly after a hip or knee replacement. Basically, we take a lot for granted. But this frenzied pace has also altered how we conduct business and live our lives. To illustrate, we want to solve problems immediately, and have no patience for long term solutions. Consequently, we tend to attack symptoms as opposed to addressing true problems, and apply Band-Aids to pacify the moment as opposed to tourniquets which are actually needed. We are easily satisfied with solving small problems as opposed to conquering major challenges. Personally, we tend to live for today, as opposed to planning for tomorrow. This mindset concerns me greatly.
What if someone pulled the plug on our technology? Would engineers still know how to draft products? Would we still know how to ship a product or process an order? Would our financial transactions come to a halt? Would business come to a standstill? The answer, unfortunately, is Yes. This highlights the overt dependency we have developed on our technology and is cause for alarm. We are being driven by technology as opposed to the other way around. By unplugging our technology, we are unplugging the human-being. Think I’m wrong? Watch what happens the next time the power goes out at your office or home.
Because of the domination of technology, people have allowed their socialization skills to slip. Small things, such as common courtesy, appearance, and our ability to network with others, have all deteriorated in the workplace. We may be effective in communicating electronically, but we are becoming complete failures in communicating socially. Throughout the book I mention how people act on perceptions, right or wrong. These perceptions are based in large part on our ability to communicate, such as through the messages we transmit verbally or written, our appearance, our body language, and how we treat others. If we cannot communicate effectively in this capacity, no amount of technology will be able to alter the perceptions of our coworkers, our managers, our customers, our vendors, or our friends and family.
To this end, I have introduced a new Bryce’s Law:
“As the use of technology increases, social skills decreases.”