Opinion: Is technology gradually stripping us of our humanity?


Lola Burns

As technology is becoming an everyday part of society, it is ripping away our social and emotional connections.

Isheeta Pal, Writer

When I spend time with a group of people, there is not as much face-to-face communication; it is mostly spent through technology. Someone has to take a picture of the group on a smartphone to post it on social media, or someone might scroll through TikTok to find the latest gossip that needs to be discussed. Moments like these prove that people, especially teenagers, are becoming more dependent on technology when they are around others because of the engaging content that can be accessed with it. And with its ongoing advancement, face-to-face communication is gradually fading away from our society. 

An important skill that is taught in school is conversation etiquette. Out of the many aspects involved in these mannerisms, some include nodding, making eye contact with others and not interrupting someone. These actions are seen in face-to-face conversations, and according to MIT professor Sherry Turkle’s TED Talk “Connected, but Alone,” it “is the most humanizing we could do.” Additionally, face-to-face communication plays a role in the important moments of one’s life. From making friends at the playground in elementary school to giving a job interview, all those activities require it and allow one to build strong relationships in those settings. 

A typical way teenagers spend their time in the 21st century is through their smartphones, where they receive “immediate gratification” from the engaging content they see on the internet. (thejournal.com)

Over the past century, however, technology has evolved to be the solution to problems that may seem minor now, but were large in the past. Tasks like shopping for clothes and groceries, calling someone that lives thousands of miles away and quickly getting news about current events can all be accomplished just with a few taps on a liquid-crystal display (LCD) screen. This proves that technology allows for the tasks that were once difficult to be more accessible and easier to accomplish. 

Although technology makes our lives easier, it has also been a detrimental part of our lives due to the fact that humans’ attention spans have significantly decreased. For example, a child who is five-years-old or younger and is exposed to at least two hours of screen time is eight times more likely to be diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). This is because technology allows for “immediate gratification” (as Michael Manos, the director of the ADHD Center for Evaluation and Treatment at the Cleveland Clinic, says), which isn’t necessarily found in a duty that one has to fulfill without technology and is the factor that instills an addiction to devices like smartphones. 

Moreover, technology has personally affected the way I do face-to-face jobs since the COVID-19 pandemic quarantine. My attention span declined because I got bored when I wasn’t receiving the immediate gratification I was accustomed to, and my phone was the only place where I could easily seek that validation. I was so dependent on technology during that time that when I went to school in-person in 2021, it felt weird to even start a conversation without tapping a few buttons on my phone. I felt that texting was when I could edit what I was saying before actually telling that person what I was going to say, but in-person conversations didn’t have that advantage. It was hard for me to make “small talk” during in-person conversations because it followed with an awkward silence that made me use my phone in front of the person I was talking with. 

To promote face-to-face communication, I would recommend using technology in moderation. You can always set a screen time limit on the apps that you waste the most time on, or you can physically set your phone aside and have some “downtime” to pay attention to the stimuli around you. Doing this increases your ability to concentrate and maybe it can help you initiate more face-to-face conversations with other people. 

Overall, even though technology is used on a daily basis to make essential chores easier, it somewhat took away the face-to-face communication that humans need in their interactions. Hopefully, people will start using technology in moderation and have more face-to-face interactions in the future.

What do you think?