The Effects Technology has on People and Communities #19 #cong19

#cong19 speaker


Max explores the effects technology and especially social media has on people and communities and link the shifting landscape of social interaction to the shift from agricultural to industrial/urban in the 19th century and the social problems that arose.

4 Key Takeaways:

  1. We are currently living through the Fourth Industrial Revolution
  2. Studies are beginning to link  social media to depression
  3. Former members of Google and Facebook are starting to question the ethics involved in todays social media market
  4. Psychology and its place within social media use

About Max Hastings:

Max Hastings is a music producer, music teacher and creative director at Code Switch his tech start up which develops creative applications. Earlier this year they launched the K2S-VR, a Kinect 2 interactive synthesizer. Code Switch is also focused on developing educational applications harnessing emerging interactive technologies. With unique positioning between the music industry and the education sector Code Switch deliver forward thinking musical solutions that are easily transferrable within an educational framework.

Contacting Max Hastings:

You can follow Max on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram or send him an email.

By Max Hastings

Ever since man adopted rudimentary stone tools and weapons, like the epic opening to Kubricks space odyssey 2001, technologies have been shaping and changing the way we congregate, interact socially and live as communities. The relationship between technology and community took drastic steps forward during the industrial revolution of the 18thand 19thcenturies, when mass movements of rural agricultural communities flocked towards developing urban areas and the steam and coal powered technologies that drove the new seismic shift  of work forces moving from fields to factories.

That was deemed as the first industrial revolution. We are now experiencing the fourth industrial revolution. Klaus Schwab, founder of the World Economic Forum,  describes this in a 2016 article “Now a fourth industrial revolution is building on the third, the digital revolution that has been occurring since the middle of the last century. It is characterised by a fusion of technologies that is blurring the lines between the physical, digital, and biological spheres.” The evolution and diversification of technology and its near all encompassing influence on our everyday lives is changing the very nature of how we live and how we treat each other.

The blurring of the lines that Schwab describes is evident on multiple social levels since the proliferation of smartphone technologies. The emergence of social networks and the platforms that we now describe as social mediahave moulded this digital social revolution. The mass engagement of people utilising social media as their sole method of interaction and communication. Then later replacing traditional news outlets as their source for world news and political discourse has been such a change that we now think of the world as pre and post internet. In essence social media is the congregation and connection of minds within a particular digital platform. A place to share ideas, beliefs, memories and opinions.  A new method in which we can interact with the world, connect with people on the other side of the planet and build a new sense of community. Well in theory anyway, the realities, as research is demonstrating, are not so simple.

In the inner cities of the first industrial revolution diseases plighted communities. According to historian Robert Wilde “There was also a range of common diseases: tuberculosis, typhus, and after 1831, cholera. The terrible working environments created new occupational hazards, such as lung disease and bone deformities.” Where in the 1800’s people suffered due to overcrowding and the physical pressures that arise from these conditions, we now are beginning to see the psychological negatives produced by living in close proximity to other peoples digital  personnas and the mob mentalities that exist when humans gather in groups in real life and within the digital realm.  The diseases of today are of the mind.

When one zooms out and looks at the effects of social media, especially on young people from a macro social perspective, studies are beginning to show correlations between social media and depression, suicide and feelings of isolation and loneliness.  The psychology behind everyday social media platform practices such as “scroll to refresh” display a darker level to what companies are willing to delve into to engage with their users, tapping into addictive patterns of behaviour and gambling. Trisitan Harris former Google design ethicist and  cofounder of Centre for Humane Technology says “Each time you’re swiping down, it’s like a slot machine, you don’t know what’s coming next. Sometimes it’s a beautiful photo. Sometimes it’s just an ad.”

The idea is also forming that social media plays into various negative aspects of the human personality spectrum. Psychology Today  says “Research is beginning to suggest a correlation between the heavy use of social media platforms and the Dark Triad—a cluster of personality traits that includes psychopathy, Machiavellianism, and narcisssism.”This area of studyis showing alarmingly, how social media is demonstrating that people are becoming increasingly self obsessed. Heightened self obsession and the aggressive seeking of approval from others are fundamentally the enemies of community.

Ironically the internet, a revolutionary tool that started out as a limitless realm of freedom of expression and community growth and sharing has become a divisive mechanism of monetised social interaction that is causing users to feel isolated, depressed, severely self conscious and inadequate, at the same time playing into deep seated harmful human personality traits. How we treat each other fundamentally reflects the society in which we inhabit. How we interact with and educate successive generations is the basis of the communities we build and leave behind. The honeymoon period for social media and the masses is  drawing to a close, how we inform and educate people to its uses, its benefits and its pitfalls, will be the next phase. Pause for thought.


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