The latest issue of the kurzweilai.net newsletter contains a brief piece on the dangers of the e-personality (I.E. excessive use of the internet, mobile telephones etc). There has been concern for some time now that excessive use of technology can lead to people becoming impatient and carrying online personality traits into their off-line lives.
My daughter would given half a chance spend much of her waking life on Club Penguine and other similar websites and she isn’t always best pleased when my wife or I ask her to turn off the computer and engage in an activity other than surfing the internet. This problem is by no means confined to children and I must confess to having turned on the computer intending only to quickly check my e-mails only to find, an hour or so later that I have become embroiled in searching the World Wide web! I’m sure that I am by no means the only person who has done this!
We should all be mindful of the dangers of using technology to the exclusion of living a fulfilling life in the real world. Sometimes sitting at my computer I can hear the birds singing outside the open window and feel the soft breeze as it wafts in through my living room window. In those situations I make a decision, I turn off the PC and go for a walk in the park. It makes me feel part of something real and substancial, part of the natural world rather than a mere actor in some virtual reality play.
Granted we should turn off our computers, mobiles etc at times and simply enjoy being with friends or, indeed alone with our own thoughts, however there is a danger of throwing the baby out with the bath water. For example I can well remember seeing comments (I think in the Daily Mail), in response to the killing of a lady by someone who she had met on Facebook, that Facebook should be banned or severely restricted. This point of view is as stupid as arguing that because some people tragically die as a consequence of gas leaks/carbon monoxide poisoning we should prohibit the use of all gas appliances! The fact of the matter is that people have always met those intent on doing them harm and will (sadly) continue to do so with or without the internet. To take an obvious example a lady meets a man in a pub or club, he seems fine, they leave together and the woman is tragically raped or killed.
The internet does pose dangers but they are the same as those which have always existed. I’m really not convinced that we are any more or less safe as a consequence of the invention of the World Wide Web. On the whole the invention of the internet has greatly expanded personal freedom. People can experience new cultures and forge relationships across cultures in a manner which would have been impossible until very recently. So lets recognise the dangers of excessive use of technology while not getting paranoid about it.
For the Kurzweil article please visit http://www.kurzweilai.net/the-dangers-of-e-personality?utm_source=KurzweilAI+Daily+Newsletter&utm_campaign=c028008567-UA-946742-1&utm_medium=email .