Friday, November 5, 2010

“ADVANCEMENT IN TECHNOLOGY IS LEADING TO SOCIAL ISOLATION”

Life in the modern times has considerably changed ,thanks to technology. The pace in which life moves has become considerably faster. Major success has been achieved in modern times in the field of medicine, nuclear science, computers and automation at various levels. The discovery of viruses by American biochemist Wendell Stanley in 1930’s and the discovery of mysteries of genetic inheritance by Englishman F.H.C. Crick and the American James Watson have undoubtedly been the biggest scientific achievements in the last century. Development in the field of nuclear science has shifted the balance of power in the world giving rise to a new term ‘proliferation’. Another major achievement in the last century has been the development in the field of computers and computing machines. These in turn have created an environment where the work is done at a very fast rate thus increasing the pace of life.

Technology and its boons have always been propagated in such a voracious manner that we tend to forget or overlook its harm. It too comes with its own set of problems. One of the major harms it has done is it has given man the power of mass destruction which was hitherto unknown .It has also affected the environment to a very large extent. Another major defect of technology is that it has created isolation in the society. In the times to come this is going to be a major influential factor.

Karl Marx gave the concept ‘alienation’ which was central to his theories while defining class conflict in the capitalist economy .Marx claimed that in a capitalist economy each worker had a restricted or limited role .He or she no longer applied total human capacities of hands, the mind and the emotion at work. This created a sense of isolation which was explained in four stages:

  1. Workers alienation from the product he produces.
  2. From the process of production
  3. From himself
  4. From the community of his fellowmen.

When the worker has reached the fourth stage he was no longer attached to either himself or the society and this gave birth to social isolation. Marx definition of social alienation is very much true in today’s modern world where extreme level of mechanization and specialization have forced humans to become socially isolated to a large extent.

Technology has affected the human thinking to a large extent. It has clouded his patience. Today man wants work done so fast that the mere concept of waiting seems obsolete to him. It has altered his very basic nature thereby affecting his psyche. Patience which is a very important word in any relationship is slowly vanishing from the dictionaries of modern man. This has thus created a sense of isolation because people don’t have the required patience to build any relationship anymore. This is an indirect attack of technology with respect to social isolation.

Studies in the American society have reflected disturbing trends:-

“That image of people on roofs after Katrina resonates with me, because those people did not know someone with a car,” said Lynn Smith-Lovin, a Duke University sociologist who helped conduct a study on the contemporary American society. “There really is less of a safety net of close friends and confidants.” This can be out rightly attributed to the increasing use of technology in human lives which has negated the need for social interaction at a basic level. Thus when a calamity struck people didn’t what next to do since they were not attached to the nearby people anymore.

New research indicates that the modern man has very few close confidants .It has dropped from three to two in the past twenty years and this is directly attributed to technology by all sociologists. American sociologist Michael Karnjanaprakorn gives a classic example in this respect

Social networking sites connect us to people that we already know. They don’t facilitate new relationships and connections as it’s almost impossible to add someone you don’t know. The social norm of social networking states that you can only connect to people you already know. You may have over a 1,000 friends on a particular social networking site and you would probably know 99% of them. But, out of those 1,000, you would stay in touch with around 25 and keep updated with the rest through status updates. “

Advocates of technology might demonstrate that technology like social networking sites have bought about a revolution in human interaction but the real picture has been truly summarized above .An American company has developed a machine which leaves voice recorded messages. They say that they have replaced the text messaging system but what they have actually mastered is the art of leaving a voice recorded message without having to undergo the ordeal of engaging into a conversation. All these and many others points towards one simple fact that use of technology in modern times has actually given rise to social isolation.

The past few centuries saw the society being divided in terms of haves and have-nots. This created a great misbalance in the society .The post industrialization modern era saw rapid strides in technology in every field. This has led to the emergence of a new class of division skilled and unskilled which is going to become more prominent in the coming times. If the division between haves and have-nots had created a mere misbalance in the society the difference between the skilled and the unskilled will however lead to the total collapse of the system. There is a deep rooted sense of isolation in this divide. It goes on from being merely social to physical and finally alienates man from himself. The common sense of solidarity among these people at the receiving end of this system is however missing this time which makes it a larger threat to humanity than the previous division among have and have-nots.

Social isolation nowadays is defined in the broader terms as the absence of social interactions, contacts, and relationships with family and friends, with neighbors on an individual level, and with ''society at large" on a broader level including the environment. The last part ‘environment’ leads to a different discussion with terms to social isolation .Development can be attributed to two major sources nature and technology. Nature’s concept of development is based on abundance like air, water land etc. Technology’s concept of development has largely been around scarcity like expensive medical treatment. Thus this very basic difference in nature led to the emergence of conflict between technology and environment. In this conflict technology has successfully created havoc on the environment .Thus when nature gets destroyed man feels alienated which brings an altogether different direction to the term of social isolation.

The friction between technological development and the social bonding of man in particular and the influence of the former upon the course of social and cultural changes have been a great source of controversy. Today, human life is an industrial life. In this life which is governed by technical relations, all products are interrelated and interdependent, where the purchase of a product commits one to the purchase of another. Technology advances constantly and rapidly; what has been useful and favored one day runs out of style next day. This rapid stride has bought about a sense of detachment of man from goods .Thus his feelings of belongings even to the materialistic things begins to decrease since the products change so rapidly that he is not able to associate himself with any of it. All these are the major harbingers of social isolation.

There are numerous cases of people committing suicide unable to cope with the pressure of technology. This may sound unbelievable but it’s true. A large number of youths commit suicide for reasons as feeble as losing a computer game .This is nothing but a sense of isolation from themselves. They do not feel attached to themselves anymore. After getting isolated from their co workers their family the environment and finally materialistic goods there is no doubt that they finally feel alienated from themselves. This creates a deep sense of isolation in their minds which leads to panic and finally he or she takes a drastic step.

Thus in the above we see that in modern times man has actually been able to alienate himself from the society with the help of technology. Science and technology provide no panacea for the problems of the world. If those problems have to be solved man and women have to work and not machines. They will be better equipped to do so if they have a sense of solidarity and a common sense of their own past. The lesson of history is not that it never repeats itself. The lesson is rather, than that the present can be clearly perceived and the future intelligently planned for only when those responsible understand the basic working of human nature. Man is a social animal and for knowledge and insight of this simple fascinating mechanism, it is not technology but a common sense of history achieved through a simple concept called togetherness.

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1 comment:

  1. This post is too good to be an editorial.Hope you have started writing to papers...

    ReplyDelete