We’ve all been there. You decide it’s time for a study break, you’ve stapled a few notes together and highlighted a chapter. You think to yourself “I’ll just scroll through Facebook and see who went out last night on Snapchat”. Suddenly, it’s been 45 minutes and you’ve been lying on your bed, eyes glazed over, scrolling through Old Friends Senior Dog Sanctuary’s page, liking each picture of the cute elderly dogs.
Don’t worry, I’m not anti-tech (a journalist can’t really afford to be these days). I think technology has brought so many positive things to our world. The sheer speed at which we can obtain information is phenomenal. If you want to find out who’s that actor on screen, just IMDB it. If you can’t remember who sings a song, Google it. You can learn about entire eras of history, notable people, and abstract concepts though Wikipedia. News is broken by journalists and citizens alike at an increasingly faster rate through social media. Family member in different countries can Skype and see their loved one’s faces who are thousands of miles away.
But has this come at a cost? Undoubtedly, we are a lot more globalised. I follow American and UK politics attentively because I see so many tweets and posts about them. I crave information, I’ll click from link to link, blog to blog to find out about what people have to say about a certain issue. Yet, I can’t help but sit back and wonder, have we lost the run of ourselves a little? Are we ignoring what is in front of us just to stare at a screen?
What impact does technology have on self-image? Youtubers now can make an incredible living by selling their personality and appearance as a brand to be marketed. These social media personalities exist as sort of a strange hybrid between an ordinary person and a celebrity. The power of social media on a person’s image isn’t to be underestimated. We all saw how quickly Kendall Jenner’s infamous Pepsi ad was burned at the stake on Twitter. But this power can also affect ordinary lives, and Jon Ronson’s “So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed” is a case book of this, although some dispute that not everyone is on social media so perhaps the world isn’t as terrifying as Jon thinks.
What is needed now is some pause for thought about this digital world we live in. An easy way to do this is to watch Charlie Brooker’s Black Mirror on Netflix. Its main theme is how technology will affect us in the future. The first episode of Season Three, “Nosedive”, paints us a pretty harrowing picture. In twenty years time, we will all be obsessed with our online ranking and it’ll affect where we live, what jobs we’re allowed, and what services we can use. The good news is, after you’ve watched the episode, you can always just scroll through Facebook, mindlessly clicking like, giving your brain a well-deserved rest.