Technology – The Opiate of the Masses?

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John Lennon lamented that we are kept ‘doped with religion and sex and TV,’ forty-plus years ago. However – it seems like the evolution of everything – our opiate of choice has been strengthened and  purified.  Are we now doped by technology instead?

I am fully aware of the irony of such a statement – given my use of it as a medium of expression. However, it’s difficult to deny the role that it plays in the lives of many. There is innumerable, often scaremongering, but more-often-then-not accurate research into the dangers that the internet poses to the youth of our society. Issues such as bullying, sexual, verbal abuse and so forth have been dealt with extensively elsewhere so I shall overlook them here.

The area that I’m interested in exploring here is how technological advancements have repeatedly evolved past our abilities to comprehend them or develop as a species to keep up, as it were.

We live in an increasingly connected society – we have this beaten to us by the media – but returning to my initial question: Is this intent on creating a doped up reality in which passivity and apathy are abundant?

I can’t help but be drawn into this train of thought – especially in the shadow of the CIA Torture Report released a few days ago. My ability to consume and react to this information has been solely due to technological advancement. Further, I am then capable of responding to the abhorrent abuse of power that the report detailed. However, for a youth culture capable of witnessing a beheading of Facebook of following the events of political upheaval via Twitter. Are they really capable of acknowledging the serious nature of such events?

My fear is not that people are becoming drones due to the use of technology, before it existed people feared the television, or the theatre[1]. Instead my fear is that if we live in a society where this information – and  indeed the footage of which – is readily available to youth. Are we then not then creating a society wherein such behaviour and practices, though not acceptable, become in themselves normalised? Or am I being too cynical by jumping to such a conclusion? Instead is it that through this openness we are able to lift the lid on secrecy and work as a society to rid ourselves of it?

I believe that it is too early to tell the true long-term effects that this shall have on our society and indeed the next generation. Moreover, history has taught us that censorship and denial have led to nothing but problems and corruption.

Will technology be the emotionally-detrimental opiate of our future?

Only time will tell though whether a truly open society – facilitated by technological advancement – will lead to a worrying sense of apathy and indifference towards violence and corruption.

[1] Shakespeare and his contemporaries were deemed so shocking to Elizabethan Protestant values that the theatres were banned from the city of London of the period.

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