RANT: The Downturn of Society

Discussion in 'Serious Chat' started by Mark, Jul 13, 2011.

  1. #1
    Mark

    Mark Canadian Beauty LPA Administrator

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    The dawn of the technological age brought with it innovation, creativity, and the ability for humans to interact and be entertained like never before. We've connected people across oceans, sent man to outer space, and have the world at our fingertips on a 24/7 basis. But with this digital age comes a dark passenger that threatens our ability to move forward as people, and will only continue to worsen.

    It is my fear that we as a species reached our peak long ago, before the widespread use of computers and television robbed us of our vision, our iPod earphones devastated our hearing, the internet and video games replaced books and thus our vocabularies, and our mobile phones made face-to-face communication an awkward practice in futility. And if you haven't noticed yet the negative consequences of this digital world, you eventually will.

    This is not progression, this is regression.

    It struck me at a recent supper rendezvous with friends that people simply don't talk to each other anymore. Just one glance around the table returned a scene of people with their heads down, their fingers dancing across their phone screens while they texted and tweeted. The only rescue from the dead silence deafening the table was the sound of vibrations and beeps, which came at an nauseatingly frequent pace. When people actually mustered the courage to produce audible conversation, the replies consisted of shortly-held eye contact and seemingly hurried and stunted responses, most likely so they could return to creeping their ex-landlord's vacation pictures.

    These are just the people I'm familiar with. The Internet has opened up a portal to an assortment of mouth-breathing, lowest-common-denominator John Does who are unaccountable for their actions and clueless as to what constitutes being a decent person.

    Example: I recently played a game of hockey on Xbox Live against a stranger I had never met. He built up a lead and then proceeded to play keep-away for the rest of the game, circling around his own zone while I pursued him without luck. It didn't anger me so much as it just irritated me that someone could go out of their way to waste the time of a complete stranger by employing cheap tactics. I messaged him after the game asking "why did you do that?" and he proceeded to shower me with racist, homophobic epithets whilst calling me a "n00b" and taunting me for the "pwnage" I had just received. Pressing him further, he revealed that he just wanted to piss me off and make me quit. "Why" again, I ask?

    In recent years The Internet has devolved into a culture of trolls, bullies and taunters, whose sole mandate is to make themselves feel better by putting down other people. But to what endgame? What possible reward exists for knowingly hurting the feelings of a complete stranger in a far away place? I thought we were a civilized and sophisticated culture, but it seems that the cloak of anonymity has turned many into cowardly and sad individuals. One needs to look no further than the comments page of your typical YouTube video to see a collection of hateful posts being thrown back and forth by people driven by the irrational need to harm one another.

    I feel we are letting the world pass us by while our heads are buried in our screens. We are letting our common decency towards one another slip away from us. I honestly don't see things getting any better. The sad thing is we're approaching a point where it can't get worse.

    So are we losing a part of ourselves to the digital world? Are we too connected? Discuss.
     
  2. #2
    Vriska

    Vriska Wiki Staff LPA VIP

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    There is certainly a yin and a yang to this.

    With information so widespread, people have the ability to educate themselves from information collected from all over the globe. The lonely can find people or a lover with their own interests that they would have never been able to find before. People aren't stuck getting news from the small amount of biased local news stations. People in Egypt managed to revolt with the power of the internet. It is definitely empowering: one could teach themselves art or music or programming and become productive all on the power of their own perseverance. On the other hand, they could waste that potential playing MMORPG's instead of building upon themselves.


    Ultimately, it's what people choose to do with the power they obtain. There are always people who misuse power. This is an ageless fact. If my mother were here and she saw people on their smartphones while on the table, she'd beat the unholy shmeege out of them. She would have never given them that choice. Without the technology, would those people have much to say to each other anyway? Where is the family's responsibility in this?
     
  3. #3
    Mark

    Mark Canadian Beauty LPA Administrator

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    Excellent point, Kathy! You always have a way of expressing yourself well!

    This entire concept has been something that has fascinated me for a while, and tonight I just felt like typing away and trying to come out with something cohesive.

    Technology has helped accomplish an innumerable amount of good things in our time. It has brought accountability to authority, become a new source of information, and created the ability for people to make a difference in a globalized world.

    I guess the point I'm making is that it has come at the cost of our interpersonal communication skills. Our immersion in technology has made us miss things right in front of our eyes. I make a special effort to put my phone away when I'm with my girlfriend because I don't want my attention to divert away from her. I feel it's the right thing to do.

    Some corners of the internet have turned into a dark corners where you're more likely to find a troll than an objective rational person, and that scares and confounds me. I suppose this could be interpreted as the "vocal minority", but it sure as hell doesn't feel like a minority at times.
     
  4. #4
    minuteforce

    minuteforce Danny's not here, Mrs. Torrance. LPA Team

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    That's something you could find in the 'real world' as well, though :*
     
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2011
  5. #5
    travz21

    travz21 Muscle Museum LPA Super Member

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    The internet just helps people let out their true colors. And a lot of them seem to be incoherent trolls. But that's nothing new. We knew that before the internet.

    This new technological world exponentially increases our intellectual potential as a race. A lot of people will misuse it and waste their lives with meaningless entertainment (I'm guilty), but the cream of the crop will use it to bring our world to new, previously unthinkable heights.


    Just thinking back 10 years ago and how drastic a change it's been baffles me. Makes me wish I was born about 100 years from now.
     
  6. #6
    minuteforce

    minuteforce Danny's not here, Mrs. Torrance. LPA Team

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    ^ Yeah, this. :)
     
  7. #7
    Agent

    Agent Formerly known as Agent Sideburns LPA Über VIP

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    I see what you're saying Mark. The thought has crossed my mind as well. But if you weigh the good the internet has brought to humanity (and continues to bring) against the bad, the good wins out. A powerful tool like the internet, and modern technology in general, will have its share of side effects and we can't avoid that.

    I just wish more people would realize the negative impacts of technology and re-evaluate their lifestyle.
     
  8. #8
    Mr. Vahn

    Mr. Vahn *Cat Scratching On A Fence*

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    True, modern technology has both good and bad traits, such as helping develop different aspects of the scientific world (helping HUMANITY develop and mature), and turning people into mindless trolls that spend all their time spamming in all kinds of ways ( In Youtube, like Mark said, different games (Mark again) ) just because of their endless need to cause verbal harm to other people. Worst of all, you can't do anything about that, except lowering yourselves to their level and start spamming them back. Youtube just got a margin sadder for me, its one of the biggest troll nests I've ever seen.
     
  9. #9
    Tim

    Tim My perversion power is accumulating LPA Super Member

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    I think it's important to put all of this technology in its proper context. Mobile phones have only become widespread in the past 10-12 years, high-speed internet in the last ten years, and smart phones in the last 4-5. This is all still so new to us.

    Is technology taking us down a dark path? I can't say for sure. But I do know we need to expect some growing pains. It may take a few years (decades even) for people to strike a healthy balance between everyday human contact and complete technological immersion.
     
  10. #10
    Dean

    Dean LPA Super Member LPA Addict

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    It's just something I've came to expect from the internet and I take it with a pinch of salt, fortunately I still don't tend to encounter it that often in everyday life.

    That and given a choice I would much rather talk to someone face to face than on the phone, and I grew up in the midst of all this.
     
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2011
  11. #11
    Derek

    Derek LPAssociation.com Administrator LPA Administrator

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    As many of my elders and older relatives would say, you're always going to find a couple of rotten apples with worms in them. It's a fact of human nature, and even before the internet gained popularity, these people existed in the real world. The internet has just made it easier for these trolls and bullies to co-exist and the only way to defeat a troll is to ignore a troll. If you engage these people, they're getting the response they desired and in reality it's only you who have lost. That's why it was probably best to not engage that jerk over Xbox Live because you gave him a response to brag about to his buddies and simply just wasted your time.

    As for technology killing our society, I can't say I 100% agree with that. While I will agree that cell phones/computers have ruined our ability to communicate and that we as a generation have become less active or healthy...I feel that technology if harnessed in the right way can have great benefits. The best example I can think of is this website. When I first began the LPA at age 15 I was a socially awkward teenager with little to no confidence, an extreme lack of social skills and not really much pride in myself. However; as this site has grew larger I've found that I've gained and learned many new things from the experiences I've had in operating the LPA for the last ten years.

    I've made friendships with certain members of staff that have lasted the better part of the decade, several of whom I've met in person. I had a incredible (and rewarding) 4 year online/IRL relationship with Andrea on staff that changed my life, and that I'll never forget. And finally, being recognized on the LPU/LPMB and by Linkin Park just for running a website has done wonders for my self esteem.

    In short, while the internet may have it's faults...without it, I would've never become the person that I am or met the friends/woman that changed my life for the better.
     
  12. #12
    Blackee Dammet

    Blackee Dammet Feminism Is My God Now

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    People were always stupid, petty shits. You're just able to see way more of it at once than you used to.

    By the same logic, maybe there are people you identify more with that aren't always in your general vicinity. While I've never seen the point of having 5000 Facebook friends, talking to people you can't always hang with isn't a problem.
     
  13. #13
    Benjamin

    Benjamin LPA team LPA Super VIP

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    Yeah, that's about all I have to say. The internet is a great thing. People just need to learn not to be on it 24/7.
     
  14. #14
    DaMU

    DaMU Well-Known Member

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    The Internet makes news instantaneously available. This alone makes it one of the best things in the history of humanity. The Internet has also become a source of knowledge, a force for revolution, a waste-saving method of communication, an eraser of boundaries, a parent of dynamic new art forms, and a voluminous repository of beautiful, wonderful pornography.

    If anything, the Internet is one of the signs that humanity isn't doing as poorly as doomsayers like yourself (on the basis of two anecdotes) would have us believe.
     
  15. #15
    Mark

    Mark Canadian Beauty LPA Administrator

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    I think a lot of people are taking my rant as an anti-Internet/anti-Technology one, which it isn't.

    DaMu, you make it seem like I connected two situations together and wrote a rant on the downfalls of technology based solely on those criteria. I would appreciate more credit than that!

    Truthfully, this is something I've taken notice of over the years as we've become more immersed in the 24-hour-a-day digital cycle. I'd just prefer to keep it to a few paragraphs rather than write a novel about it which no one would read.

    My main point is that while technology is innovative and has brought a lot of good to humanity, it has changed our real-life interactions/behaviours/skills for the worse.

    When people choose to boot up Facebook to see what other people are doing, instead of talking with the close friends right in front of them, it makes me think about how much our ability to interact with one another in-person has regressed. The art of communication has been lost in the vortex of over-communication.

    Also, I'd wager a bet you're far less likely to find an eloquent conversationalist today than you were 10 years ago. From being the appointed editor for nearly every group paper co-written by my undergraduate and graduate-level classmates over the last 6 years, it astounds me how poorly people can convey themselves nowadays. It's amazing how limited peoples' vocabularies are. I honestly think that we as a collective species are becoming less intelligent, and it is largely the result of technological substitutes. We're more informed, but less intellectually stimulated.
     
  16. #16
    travz21

    travz21 Muscle Museum LPA Super Member

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    I think the big question is does this even matter?
     
  17. #17
    Mark

    Mark Canadian Beauty LPA Administrator

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    Absolutely! The ability to interact with one another in-person affects how people work within organizations and the friendships/relationships we form!
     
  18. #18
    travz21

    travz21 Muscle Museum LPA Super Member

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    Have you seen the movie Surrogates?
     
  19. #19
    Dean

    Dean LPA Super Member LPA Addict

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    I think that we're in a period where we are learning what the internet is good for and what the internet is bad for more or less through trial and error, and for better or for worse we probably won't be through it for another generation or two, when the children of people who first grew up with it have grown up themselves and maybe even raised their own children.

    As it is I think I'll go with it being another scientific development that we integrate properly after that initial period.
     
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2011
  20. #20
    ThaHandyman

    ThaHandyman Banned

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    I think I pretty much agree with everything Mark said, you make some good points.
     

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