How Technology is Changing Our Psychology and How It Can Continue To Do So
Technology has a profound impact on the way we experience and deal with the world. From changing the way we communicate and seek information to new forms of entertainment and self-perception, it is a critical tool in almost everything we do.
Although we generally see this as normal, there comes a time when it affects the way we think about the world and our role in it, and it begins to shape our cognitive development. As amazing as it may sound, your psychology is probably already influenced by your interactions with technological gadgets, and that will probably be even more so in the future.
But don’t worry, it’s not necessarily a bad thing, and it’s not good. It is only important that we understand the complex interaction between our technology and psychology and that we learn to manage this interaction to ensure that the changes are positive.
Changes We already have experienced:
The changes that have already taken place are the easiest to understand and address. One of the most prominent and discussed is the influence of the Internet in our areas of interest. Many people believe that the fact that we have so much information and entertainment at our disposal has led to our attention-getting shorter and shorter because we have less time or are less inclined to read long blocks of text. After all, the average time we spend on a website is less than a minute, which seems to tell us something about the way we use the web and how it has affected our attention (also here it could be the quality of most websites…). Imagine if this article were a block of text without paragraphs or cups… would you read it?
Another concern raised by some psychologists has to do with our self-confidence. This is our sense of individuality and goal in the world and how we believe we fit into our social groups and social structure. The point here is that social networking sites, forums, and other online tools can expand our”social world” to such an extent that we lose part of this identity and are more influenced by the people around us. If you communicate with 100 people a day instead of 10, wouldn’t it be harder to form your own opinion about things? Others believe that social media are more likely to make us build “facades” because of the way we want to be seen than to remain true to ourselves. One of my speculations is that social media and mobile phones could make us more dependent on others and make us a little less easy when we were out of touch.
But not everything is bad because research has also shown that the web has had significant positive effects on our psychology. In particular, access to information and the number of people with whom we are connected may have helped us become more open and global than ever before. We are exposed to more opinions and lifestyles that help us to be less reasonable and more acceptable.
Although these changes are not definitive, inevitable or completely excluded, it is important that we are aware of them and monitor their effects. If you continue to display text on the web all day long, you may also be able to spend some time reading a good book. And if you become increasingly dependent on other people, try to recover a perspective.
Although technology has already influenced our psychology, the potential is even deeper than we could change in the future. Technology is changing exponentially, which means that the next ten years are likely to change faster than any previous decade, and this will cause psychological costs.
For example, the use of the Internet and social media is likely to increase in the coming years, as connections become faster and faster and more and more people become part of these networks. The direction in which it moves can lead to the integration of social media into portable technologies, so you can talk to everyone and share images wherever you are. Imagine if Google Glass calls anyone with a 4g connection for free – talking to friends would be quicker, easier and more versatile than ever before, and this could lead us to develop a much more “beehive” mentality.
Meanwhile, a new technology that is likely to have one of the greatest effects on our way of thinking and experiencing the world is undoubtedly a virtual reality. This is an area that has jumped and is likely to grow following the recent VR’ Oculus Rift’ announcement, as developers around the world are excited about the opportunities and technology continues to improve. If you want to see how far VR has come, look at the Oculus Split, Virtuix Omni (a platform that lets you go in any direction while you’re stationary) and the Razer Hydra (double Wii as a PC controller). Combine these three devices and experience a virtual world as if it were real.
The question is: what happens if this experience is so good that we can explore the Colosseum in Rome and really feel like it? Or can we have sex with a virtual partner and feel and really look like it? At the moment, we could also make some of our basic experiences superfluous, which would undoubtedly have a profound impact on our psychology and open up completely new avenues for education, business, research and social interaction.
And this before we even begin to think about transhuman technologies – developments that are clearly focused on changing the human condition in such a way that we can carry out incredible superhuman heroic actions and are no longer able to experience aging or negative emotions. Imagine what this could mean for our sense of self-esteem…. (is it too far? Search for’ biohacking,” gene doping’ or’ Kevin Warwick’ and then return to me…).
It’s a beautiful new world, but what will change most of all is not your smartphone: you are…