Despite having plenty of virtual friends and a barrage of virtual games, people are lonely.
The sinister implications of getting hooked on technology are now dawning on the saner sections of society. A 12-year-old boy from the UK managed to blow £900 on an online game in Facebook without his parent’s knowledge. Closer to home, in Mumbai, Rohan, a teenager, spent Rs. 5000 from his father’s PayPal account. While the father was informed the money was being spent for a school project, he later discovered his son had blown it on FarmVille, one of the most popular games on Facebook.
TECHNOLOGICAL EXPOSURE AND HUMAN FEELINGS
Technology exposure creates two extreme reactions among human beings they may get lonely and desperately spend money like water, hoping it would serve as an antidote. Or they may get hysterically aggressive and perpetrate violent and gruesome acts on others.
With no real friends, people get lonely, despite having plenty of virtual relationships and fun with a barrage of virtual games the iPhone itself has 50,000. Dr. Linda Pagani and her colleagues at the Montreal University studied the effect of television on children and claim their findings reveal that watching television makes children less intelligent and consequently lonely. Kaveri Subramanyam and Patrica Greenfield, psychologists at California State University and UCLA have also studied the impact of electronic communication on the minds of children. They noted in the journal, Future of Children, that electronic communication is making teens less interested in face-to-face communication with their friends. Many psychologists confirm that in the absence of human warmth, people seek refuge in shopping, filling their lives with things that they mostly do not need. It becomes a vicious circle: the more a person replaces human warmth with objects, the less chance they have to forge meaningful relationships with others. At the same time constant exposure to a make-believe world saps the ability to deal with life’s complexities.
Some people don’t get lonely, but they go the other extreme they go berserk and get violent. Crazy, sadistic behavior is no longer uncommon. The disastrous social consequences of a lifestyle centered on machines and technology are there for all to see. We have seen frustrated people venting their anger by attacking vulnerable school children and youth. Anger and frustration is on the rise because there is no connection to other humans or to God.
Many people prefer the internet and television because they give us the feeling that we are in control. With just one push of a button, we can summon information from any corner of the world and communicate with people across continents in seconds. We can watch shows and hear music of our choice when we want and where we want. This increases our sense that we are the controllers of our lives. As we control machines the whole day, we get desperate to be in a controller mode always. That becomes our second nature. However, when we deal with other people, we discover it is impossible to shut them up or make them speak with a push of a button. People have individual likes and dislikes, emotions and feelings. To experience love and meaningful relationships we need to spend time with others. We need to understand each other and be patient. Thanks to the rapid pace of technology, we have no time for each other and would prefer to spend time with TV and the internet. This distances people more from their loved ones.
CHOOSE THE RIGHT INFLUENCE
In the Vedic culture, men and women are trained to practice equilibrium amidst the swinging fortunes and unpredictable events of life. Daily prayers, collective worship of God and the cultivation of a service attitude help people come together in harmonious relationships. The Vedic scriptures advise humans to be equipoised during happiness and distress. The scriptures teach that the purpose of human life is to develop attraction to God. Extreme emotions overwhelm the consciousness and make it impossible to favorably remember God. Those who constantly watch television see even insignificant events being shown with great fanfare and loud propaganda. These shows agitate the mind more than pacify it, and they make us trust the external features of this world more than the substance. For example, physical attractiveness is more appealing than the strength of character, thanks to the exhibition of glamor in the media. This influences all aspects of society, even the courts of law: Cornell University researchers found that unattractive defendants are 22% more likely to be convicted.
Let’s make a conscious choice to include the right influences in our lives, before it’s too late.
Vraja Vihari Dasa, MBA, serves full-time at ISKCON Mumbai, and teaches Krsna consciousness to students in various colleges.