Does Technology Breed Apathy and Inaction ‘distracted and addicted to viral hype, we’re inundated with information’

Technology is everywhere and its changed the way we live our lives, near enough down to every last detail. 

We don’t need maps, TomTom will do it; we don’t need to leave the sofa to eat, a few clicks and just-eat.co.uk. We can even delegate our chores to people via TaskRabbit. Life is a breeze, technology has made our world one big convenience. And it just about fits in our pocket (you’ll need a bigger one if you’ve got the iPhone 5). And we’re so well connected, right? Facebook and Twitter say so. 

I’m just saying what you already know and I’m not against technology. I love it, I think; but things are changing and I wonder what that means for the future. Things might seem convenient and connected, but we’re also a lot more distracted. Part of us is always addicted to whatever hype is next on our twitter feed this week. Everything’s beeping or glowing and whilst we’ve made things quicker, we spend our whole day keeping up to date. 

Ultimately, not only are we distracted and addicted to viral hype, we’re inundated with information – we are at risk of being well and truly overloaded. 

Don’t get me wrong, there are amazing connections and breakthroughs being made because of the incredible freedom of technology and the world wide web. The development of the telephone, the camera and the television each enabled us to know more, to understand more; to not only hear and see more, but also to be moved to actually do something. To contribute and not just consume information.

But its a big, big challenge.

Think back only to March when a video went viral. Stop Kony – a campaign by Invisible Children with the aim to stop Kony, an oppressive man who forces innocent children into a life of warfare, crime and death. Most of us will have seen it as within days, everyone I knew was talking about, sharing it online and using every form of social media to get the message out there. Then within a few more days, an uproar of negative and doubting material was being shared around regarding the campaign and the charity itself. It’s good that some people are prepared to research into these things, for just because it’s hype or viral, does not mean it is right, true or good. (Fifty Shades of Grey might be the fastest selling book in Britain, but it’s not necessarily the best!)

I don’t know the answers to the debates surrounding the video, but it’s certainly got me questioning our online and offline responses to these things. It only takes a few seconds to share or publish something. we can all do that, and it is something, it can make a difference. Yet, the big event the video was promoting, Cover the Night, only a month later, was near enough invisible in comparison to the huge buzz it caused only a matter of weeks previous. 

I wonder whether the inundation of distraction, hype and overloading causes us to be apathetic and inactive. I could use the word lazy, but it holds other connotations. I’m sure many of us are moved by injustice within the world, but just have no idea how to make a difference practically, effectively or correctly. 

I could hold my hands up and say I have my fair share of meaningless ‘noise’ online, pointless status updates or tweets, news articles and videos that I shared. Seconds later it’s all out there and ready to fuel the world’s distractions, hypes and overloads and forever archived online somewhere. 

A political theorist argues that ‘the disproportion between the supply of information and the demand for attention is a capitalistic contradiction’.

 

It’s a very interesting idea, one that challenges whether we should be more concise and conservative about how much we share online, how many distractions we create for others, how much time we spend on social media. But still on the other hand, when there is a need for truth, a need for action, how do we inform people about it? How do you get a message across without adding to the rest of the noise?

Or are we all just adding to the noise…

 

 

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