Technology and Happiness

“Happiness can exist only in acceptance.” – George Orwell

 

I have often wondered if technology is helping us to become happier individuals or if technology is impacting on our ability to learn or how we focus on what we do in our lives. And further still if it is affecting us on an emotional level.  Right now, I know that perhaps most of us, spend a good amount of time on our smartphones, computers and other devices. We can’t really help it though, we are surrounded by it, and it’s a part of our social lives and one of our main ways to communicate with each other.  When I refer to social life, I am not talking about social media, which has a lot to do with technology – but unlike social media, which could be seen as a form of two-dimensional interactivity, social life is about the time that you spend enjoying yourself or with others. With social media there is no way to tell if a tweet or text, has made someone react with a raised eyebrow or a slight smile, so it’s very two-dimensional in that respect. Humans are all about reading body language, visual or verbal signals, body posture, or other such cues. In a way, perhaps that’s what the technology part of social media is taking away from us. If we aren’t face-to-face with someone else, then we aren’t able to read these cues or you just can’t read their emotions. Although, that doesn’t go for being face-to-face with someone while you are texting on your phone at the same time.  However, social media for some, allows them to play out their social lives online, through Facebook and other forms of social media. And sometimes even with the sort of emotional ranges you would expect from face-to-face interactions.  Just think about anonymous Internet trolls – instigating discord in online comments or cyber bullying – using devices and other technologies to harass, threaten or intimidate other people. This would make it seem like some sort of double-edged sword. It’s almost like the whole contexture of social media and the Internet is focused on escapism. On the other hand, technology can help to make us happier by enriching our lives, helps us to learn new things,  explore or navigate the world, even socially.

When I think about my own childhood and my emotional development, it was mainly through the social interactions that I experienced then with friends and technology played little or had no role in my life. I didn’t have to rely on technology to make me a happier person – but then again it wasn’t as prevalent during my childhood as it is today.  It must seem so different for children now and I wonder how much it affects their social and emotional development. Advances in technology and the achievements that we have gained from technological advances has been astonishing and has changed from generation to generation. Are you Generation X (born 1964-79)? or maybe Generation Y (born after 1980)? or lucky enough to be Generation Z (born after 1995 – the mid nineties)? The Generation Zers, those born into the digital age, are proficient in technology, preferring online interaction rather than face-to-face interaction, expressing their feelings by using emojis replacing the “LOL” and “ROFL” of social media. Emojis  are their preferred written language and used online. I don’t really use them that much online, or in Tweets, on Instagram and so on – but they are supposed to express an extensive array of thoughts and emotions.  I still don’t think they express thoughts better than words do. Technology now seems to be shortening  everything that we do in our lives or is it making it easier or helping us simplify our lives? Maybe technology is just more of a facilitator.

Technology has also changed the nature of business throughout the world, helped countries like China to become the second largest economy, and for other countries to prosper. Partly because of how technologies are easily distributed and available across the populace. Perhaps Apple’s Campus 2 – the new spaceship (because of it’s flying saucer like design) headquarters to compliment its existing campus at One Infinite Loop will take off and spread Apple technologies across the universe. The image of that in my mind would be one of those flying saucers in a B-movie, strings attached, hovering precariously across a simulated sky. Main point being, that technology may not necessarily make us happier – but the advances in technology can be beneficial or even crucial to our world in certain ways. I can’t blame technology for everything, even if it doesn’t make me any happier.

 

Photo from StockSnap

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