Is technology making us less personal?

Originally Published on Global Voices by Daniel Francavilla

While a world full of technology — especially in North America — has improved our lives, how has it affected us socially?

Peter Fujiwara, a high school communications technology teacher who has also worked for Microsoft, York University, and at the Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board Office, feels that there are two sides to the issue of technology and its effects on people’s socialization.

“To many people, technology appears to be removing the human element from everyday life. We go to the gas station with our quick pass, we can check ourselves out at the grocery store, and when was the last time you spoke to a bank teller? It all seems to be pushing us away from everyday human interaction, seemingly isolating us even more.”

Technology has limited the socialization at school, between teacher and student. Assignments, even at the high school level, are being submitted online. A major form of this is done through the website, where thousands of students submit assignments to their teachers and have classroom discussions online. There is no doubt that this makes the educational experience less personal.

Although more than 600 million people around the world have access to the Internet, there are still 5.5 billion people who do not. Therefore, everyone is not in the loop when it comes to being able to communicate via technology.

The issue is not whether technology is making us less personal, but how can we use it to make us more connected with others and with the world.

“The challenge now is to learn how to integrate these new means of connectedness with our own personal values,” said Fujiwara. “Cyber-anonymity has caused some real problems with cyber-bullying, stalking and other immoral actions. On-line ethics will now play a larger and more significant role as we accelerate the use of this kind of communication. As a new generation begins to take hold of our society, the education system will have to start to integrate these kinds of technologies and the ethics around them into our day to day curriculum.”

Despite the many benefits to technology, it all comes down to how we use it — whether we are consumed by technology and become lazy, or take advantage of its convenience and productivity to save time at work and spend more time with family.