Albert Einstein, who was a renowned physicist, once said: “I fear the day that technology will surpass our human interaction. The world will have a generation of idiots.”
Through his words, Einstein is conveying how technology can gain so much power to the point that humans will sacrifice pivotal elements of their life to live under technology’s dominion. The word “idiots” depicts this point because it means that humans will give up key elements like emotional intelligence and critical thinking to instantly obey the superficial powers of technology.
According to Sherry Turkle, even though we are together, each of us are in our own bubbles “furiously connected to keyboards and tiny touch screens.” Indeed, in schools and workplaces, it is common to see people preoccupying themselves with emails and text messages that block out the opportunities to even have a simple, in-person conversation with someone.
Essentially, a major downside of technology, like social media and video games, is that it separates and isolates people even when they are in the same place. People are madly engrossing themselves with technology to the point that they are indifferent to anything outside of technology.
As people start to heavily rely on technology to receive a sense of fulfillment, they inevitably devote less time and energy for insightful human interactions like discussing inner feelings with close friends. Because people spend less effort on these enriching communications, they become more inept in building intricate interpersonal relationships that demand the ability to read body languages and nuances.
In fact, people even developed a tendency to “clean up” complicated and tedious human relationships with technology.
Interpersonal interactions present meaningful hardships that allow people to grow into mature communicators and empathizers. For instance, a face-to-face fight with a best friend, despite being painful, encourages a person to reflect on ways to improve his or her imprudent actions and contemplate the issue from the friend’s point of view. Thus, after the fight, the person forms a stronger psychological connection with the friend by becoming a more understanding individual.
However, despite the fact that only rich and complex in-person communications are capable of overcoming the difficulties within human relationships, people try to escape the difficulties by immersing themselves in apps like Instagram and Youtube.
In these online platforms, there are a plethora of superficial entertainments that lacks substance — for instance, a short and sweet Tiktok videos or ASMR videos — that deceive people into believing that they are happy and content. Also, there are exaggerated comments and direct messages from “followers,” or strangers, that cause people to be mistaken that they are consoled and cared for.
In short, technology elicits a false but extravagant sense of fulfillment that prevents people from looking into what is more important in life. With technology that provides an innumerable amount of joy in a matter of few seconds, it becomes unnecessary to reach out to human interactions that are challenging and time-consuming.
Einstein’s quote parallels this notion: when people neglect human interactions, they get more and more simple-minded. People want to cut everything short and receive instant satisfaction instead of thoroughly digesting the situation and seeking milder but more sustainable joy between humans.
By simply taking eyes off smartphones and laptops for few minutes, people can find opportunities to experience this joy.
These opportunities do not demand any drastic changes in life patterns. Asking family members how their days were like over the dinner table and cordially talking about the weather with neighbors are simple forms of interactions that everyone can engage in from now on to experience rich emotions that were suppressed by technology.