“The only thing that matters in the end is your own survival. It’s what humans and cockroaches are best at.” ― Susan Ee, World After.
In the previous article of this series I touched upon the many ‘fields’ of technology that have undergone rapid development. I also proposed that the predominant reasons for this advancement were humanity’s struggle for survival and following this humanity’s limitless ambition, once it had established itself as the alpha species of Earth. Now the latter of these reasons, ambition, is – as mentioned – limitless, it will forever fuel technological development as we continue to make life as simple and indeed, as lazy as possible. In this part of the series I shall explore whether our ambition has compromised the initial reason for our scientific exploits; survival. Have we, as a global community, become so encumbered by greed, gluttony and appetite that we have jeopardised the probability of us enduring the test of time? Has our mental growth resulted in emotional, spiritual and physical decay?
Consider the current infants of the more economically developed communities; they currently face a sensory input overload. Gone are the days of ‘peekaboo’ and ‘Lego” as 2-year olds now wield iPads with hundreds of educational apps that claim to develop hand-eye co-ordination and decision making skills. Thus, parents now look to a “digital babysitter” to provide them with precious moments of respite by occupying their children’s minds. Indeed, these apps are very convenient as they will also undoubtedly teach your children the myriad of sounds made by animals, how to match a colour to its respective name and a multitude of other skills, however. It is in this advantageousness that I see a major flaw.
The ‘digital babysitter’ allows parents to indulge in its convenience; the child can be taught ‘necessary skills’ easily and for extended periods of time, whilst also being entertained by tremendous visual and audial stimulus. Thus the child becomes addicted to intense and constant stimuli. Reality cannot provide this regular entertainment. As adolescence approaches and occurs the youth’s dependency on technology becomes clear; complains of “I’m bored” and “I’ve got nothing to play” become common. To mitigate this we buy more games and more DVDs. My generation would rather watch Reality TV than engage in the phenomenon that is reality. Furthermore our social skills are not as developed. Human contact is no longer as valued as it once was. We would rather sit in a corner staring at the screen of our phone than talk to a human being next to us. How many of us have friends that can carry on in endless conversations on Facebook or Whatsapp but freeze in reality. We are most comfortable hiding behind screen, controlling a meticulously sculptured profile which reflects who we want to be. In addition to this we have come to fear strangers; it is sad to say but we no longer think of the people we do not know as just that – “people whom we do not know” -, rather we think of them as hazards and dangers. People are no longer represented by stories or qualities but rather by their blogs and pages. Physical activity and exercise are also no longer as common. When we once had to engage in such for leisure, the need to do so is now absent. Walking which was once viewed as the most rudimentary of acts (and quite frankly it is) is now considered an athletic endeavour.
From the appetite of our mind we move to the appetite of our stomachs! Technological innovations such as genetic engineering in conjuncture with rustic methods of crop-rotation and artificial selection have resulted in us producing roughly more than 1.5 times the amount food we need for the entire world to meet their daily nutritional requirements (why everybody does not is a matter of poverty and inequality, more on that later). Moving on… Due to these modern innovations in agriculture and the globalisation the world has experienced we now have the contemporary phenomenon known as “Fast food”. Something which you are very familiar with, if you can read this. Sodium, Fat and Carbohydrate intake has spiked with some individuals claiming to be addicted to such food. This, in addition to the lack of exercise has resulted in an exponential increase of deaths due to cholesterol problems, heart disease, diabetes and obesity. In fact more people are now reported as dead due to obesity and its accompanying disorders, syndromes and diseases than hunger. Fortunately – or unfortunately – society is all too aware of this, but rather than face our problems the hard way and resort to difficult change we turn once again to technology; lipo-suction, other cosmetic procedures and pharmaceutical dieting drugs. Ironically these very technological breakthroughs suck us into an unending vortex. Addiction and dependency on these methods replace willpower and determination. Individuals spend thousands of dollars (sometimes which money they do not have) to combat their bodily inflation. The end result, regrettably, remains the same, as the very root of the problem – an unhealthy lifestyle – has not been changed. Further damaging side-effects of technological developments in agriculture include but are not limited to carcinogenic produce due to side-effects from genetic modification, herbicide resistant weeds and pesticide resistant insects due to transmission of resistant genes added to crops and finally inbred livestock from artificial selection.
Obviously all this is very morose and only one half of the coin. Please be on the lookout for the next part of this series where I discuss the many advantages of technological development which is just as immeasurable as this list of disadvantages (of which I have barely scratched the surface of).
“Mankind is resilient: the atrocities that horrified us a week ago become acceptable tomorrow.” – Joseph Heller.
To view part one, click here
(photo credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/75862793@N06/6812701367/)