(a+b)² = a² + b² + 2ab . Remember this age old math formula?
What happens if I add another variable/dimension to the left hand side of this equation? The right hand side results would change, the unfolded rule is no more valid. Rules and laws have to change and mend on introduction of new variables. On adding a dimension, the dynamics changes. Well technology, especially the internet based technology is that dimension for the rules/laws of our society, economy and human life, in general.
Let’s dig deeper by exploring different scenarios, one by one:
I. The Governance
For several years, governments and rulers across the world have kept a close eye on the ways people can organise themselves, as such organisations are the starting point to voice opinions, concerns, question the authority, start rebellions, changes and revolts. In emergency or high control situations people are forbidden to collect at one place in order to curb the unwanted activites and rebellions. However, with the advent of social medias and instant messaging apps this dynamics has changed a lot. People used to get influenced by the conversations they had with fellow human beings restricted to the niches but now we see these as highly polarised group of humans all across the world wide web.
With this wider scope, the information providing platforms have gotten all the power to manipulate people and are mediums through which government can keep even closer eyes on the citizens. Would we ever know if the tech giants and governments are in agreement already? If such a pact happens it’s a win-win for both the goverment and tech companies. For access to all this information, makes a government super powerful, and in that case it will become really difficult to uproot the ruling government. This will shatter down the core essence of democracy. On the other hand, for the tech companies, this is a big win too, as they’d be able to operate in that geography in harmony with the government and keep on luring customers, collect their data and sell them ads.
Who holds the compass of ethics and where does it lie?
II. Way people organize themselves
Along with the formation of groups or organisations, internet based applications have essentially changed the way humans interact. We interact with Uber drivers, if it’s the shared cab we are frequently surrounded by a group of strangers, we get our food from delivery persons, we collect our parcels from delivery persons, the points of contact with fellow humans have increased multifold. Think about the possible ways such a predefined network of interactions be exploited.
Parallely, let’s take a hypothetical scenario that a region get struck with an epidemic, what are the laws today to govern these points of contact. Can government suspend the functioning of these services all together? Is Government, as of today, capable of doing that? How will the economic loss be accounted for in such a situation?
Let’s shift our focus to something very common, “currency”. As financial transactions were considered very important, an authentic channel was built to conduct these. Currency coins, notes, cheques, banks, gold and government, everything in place to ensure the credibility of this system. But as technology grew, we started focussing more on user convenience. Now there are numerous apps ranging from Google Pay, Phone Pe, PayTm, BHIM UPI etc, that help in conducting the transaction in few clicks. I’m not claiming they are insecure, they might be based on a really secure algorithm, my concern is the number of ways to make payments have increased and math would support the notion that, subsequently, number of ways to break them have also increased. Just increased outlets for conducting a financial transaction which poses a security challenge is not the only concern here, we have different online currencies now, OlaMoney, Paytm credit, Airtel Money, Amazon Money and so on. Our banks comply with stringent policies, how strict are the policies w.r.t these online wallets? What is there combined effect on economy? How will these behave in the time of economic instability? These are yet centralised, with the boom of blockchain based currencies, the centrality and government control of the currency in itself is a question that would need addressal. Should authenticating financial transactions be convenient, governed or distributed?
Apart from being affected at a mob level, technology has deeply affected our own little personal spheres.
Individualism has been shot up by platforms that offer each one of us our own little celebrity world. A place where we can project ourselves as we want others to see us, where we can post about our life and people “see” it.
What is it doing with our psyche? We are affected by the false notions of fame and validations. There was a friend of mine, who once uploaded a profile pic. I told him verbally that it’s a great pic but yet he asked me, “But you didn’t “like” it?”. The act of pressing that button has become more desirable and assuring than a fellow human giving the compliment in person.
What kind of world have we developed? People prefer chats over in person communication. There are cases of youngsters unable to maintain a simple eye contact and getting awkward approaching people in real life.
People spend hours waiting for likes, posting, sharing memes and looking at meaningless posts. Imbalanced exposure to loads of irrelevant and crap posts on social medias are numbing our sense to question “Why?” at the time when the spread of misinformation has already started.
Human beings have always been vulnerable, especially in several psychological ways, the sad part is technology exploiting it on a daily basis, getting us hooked.
Our attention span has reduced , we are exposed to unregulated amounts of “instantaneous” notifications that our biological selves are incapable of processing at once. We have grown used to “instantaneousness” of it all and have become impatient. The youth is mistaken into building amazing online presence while equally shallow personal selves. Technology has deeply affected how we perceive ourselves and people around us, we trust digital signals more than people we know, which is an undesirable situation. As much as I would have loved to say this is a mere worry, we all know it is not. It might not be you but look around, you’d spot every other person having an unhealthy digital intervention in their lives. Our senses are lured into consuming the things businesses have produced for us to buy. We need to be curious more than ever, as there is no “stumbling upon” and discovering things on internet anymore. Our feeds, and information is filtered according to our interests, we are shown only what we already believe in, which is not at all conflicting.
Truth be told, reality is full of conflicts, but our digital lives are far away from any of it, offering us a cake walk, free of conflicts, worries, raw truths , offering instant gratification at every swipe.
The ability to see the truth has been hampered, the bad news is the curiosity to know it and face it in reality is also being killed. We don’t want to believe that we have been tricked or manipulated, or we are too susceptible to our false egos and vanity, seeking validation in form of likes or followers.
“You” as a human are enough.
That was my thought train this post tried to capture, there is so much more that needs discussion and there is so much more we need to realize about technological impacts, but I guess this post has reached it’s length.
I’ll be back soon with yet another post covering more insights and questions about the impact of this added dimension in different spheres of our lives, till then take care, be human and keep your curiosity levels high, it’s time to ask the “Whys”.