Good and Bad Things about Technology – Millennial Thoughts

good and bad things about technology
Good and bad things about technology are something we have to be realistic about. Over years and years of holding community discussions, technology has become an increasingly hot topic of debate.
 
And as a Millennial it’s also played an integral part in my life…
 
I’ve grown up with the internet, in fact Millennials as a generation have received the most marketing attention. Making the reality of the good and bad things about technology very real for me…
 
In the last few years I’ve seen digital and technological improvements that are rapidly changing and disrupting how the world works.
 
The word “technology” is such a wide term and has so many aspects that it would be impossible to cover them all. So the major focus of my thoughts will involve smartphones, social media, and the internet – because I think these are aspects of technology that have truly changed society in my lifetime.
 

Good and Bad Things About Technology – Let’s Be Honest

To really talk about the subject we have to talk about both sides of the issue. Of course there are good things about technology and bad things about technology. There is also a lot to be said about social skills and technology.
 
Or rather the negative relationship between social skills and technology…
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Good Things About Technology

good and bad things about technology connect
What a world we live in, I can be in Thailand – be in a taxi, pick up my smartphone and Skype with my family living in America.
 
There are truly so many good things about technology that it’s hard to decide where to start. To make things easier here’s a quick snapshot at the advantages of technology that I feel hold true.
 

10 Reasons why technology is good:

1. Connectivity – More than ever before and for a much lower price we can write, call, or even see each other because of Skype, Zoom, and even Facebook Messenger.
 
2. Access to education – A quick google search will put information at your fingertips, but even more impressive are free universities like Khan Academy.
 
3. GPS navigation – Can you even imagine a time before your phone helped you get to where you are going? Even crazier, these things tell you the fastest route and even give you updates on traffic and alternative ways in case there’s been an accident.
 
4. Translation Services – Want to learn all the most common phrases when going to a new country? Now you don’t even have to, you can simply put it into a translation app not only will you be able to say the word, if your pronunciation is horrible, many times the app will do it for you.
 
5. Online jobs – Live in a city where it’s hard to find work? Websites like Upwork, Fivver, and many others actually pair employers with Freelancers giving opportunities for individuals no matter where they live.
 
6. Tools for entrepreneurs – This isn’t just about education or learning certain skills – in fact there are seriously powerful tools for email marketing, website design, financial management, etc… that are promoted at discount through websites like appsumo.com
 
7. Lower cost – All of this adds up to a lot of resources for a much lower cost than ever before. Meaning more and more people have the chance to improve their lives and make a better living if they want to work hard to make it happen.
 
8. Entertainment – Ever been stuck in traffic with nothing to do? Now you can listen to podcasts, watch videos, play video games, and more. These might not all be about learning, but everyone has to unwind ever now and then.
 
9. Financial education – Many people are having difficulties concerning their finances or how to achieve financial freedom. It’s difficult to meet people and speak openly about finances so that’s why it’s so amazing to have websites like Millennial Revolution that guide you step-by-step through the process of retiring early.
 
10. I know, I know, you were expecting ten – but I don’t have all the answers. Leave a comment below and tell me your idea on the advantages of technology.
 
So when we contemplate good and bad things about technology we shouldn’t shouldn’t rush, let’s dive deeper into the advantages of technology…
 
I know some of them are listed up above but let’s really talk about it.
 
Access to education!
 
Just take a look at how many more people can read and write worldwide.
good and bad things about technology literacy
None of that could have been achieved without technology like the printing press, fast forward to now and we have people learning multiple languages online for free with apps like DuoLingo.
 
When we consider good and bad things about technology we have to be clear that there’s been no other time on earth that so much free information is available.
 
Individuals are launching businesses from what they learn, becoming professional musicians, dancers, artists, and literally changing their life because of that access.
 
Another element that comes out of this is financial education – what I mean by that is the ability to find alternative ways to thing about finances, retirement, and investment. This does connect with access to education but in a unique way.
 
Many times the real challenge people have when making a decision or taking a risk is that they don’t know anyone else that actually did it successfully. The ability to see someone else that achieved success and to learn from them is something that the internet makes possible. Jim Rohn said, “You’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with,” but with the internet you’re able to learn from thousands of people and see how they found success.
 
Financial education sites allow people all over the world to learn about the ability to retire at the age of 40. They even take questions from the audience and help people with specific problems. This would never be possible and that is why good things about technology and advantages of technology can’t be overlooked.
 
We didn’t even touch on health tech that is helping people live longer and better lives, or new innovations in transportation.
 
Once again, the major focus of my thoughts will involve smartphones, social media, and the internet. And when that is the focus we also have to talk about bad things about technology, because there is one thing I am truly worried about.

Bad Things About Technology

good and bad things about technology Poison
We’re more connected than ever, yet at times it seems as if we are driving further and further apart. Aside from political scandals like Donald Trump’s twitter battles or the BBC’s report of increased racism and race-related hate crime since Brexit.
 
We seem to also have a rise in loneliness and depression…
 
When we talk about good and bad things about technology we have to bring up the fact that the engineers and innovators at Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and other social media giants are crafting habit forming behavior.
 
Literally pulling us more and more towards the screens…
 
For many people a smartphone is the first thing they pick up in the morning and the last thing they see before they go to bed. Constant stimulus and a view into the lives of others as we scroll and scroll and scroll until 1 hour later we forget what we started with.
 
There are many experts on the subject that have spoken up and a wealth of information. Who give a well-rounded take on the bad things about technology, instead my criticism will be focused on social skills and technology. What I’ve seen as a millennial and also someone who has lead discussions all over the world with people both young and old.
 

Social Skills and Technology – Where We’re Headed

We talked about the advantages of technology, the good things about technology. But if we’re going to talk about good and bad things about technology we have to be honest. It’s necessary to elaborate on one of the most negative aspects that I’ve seen.
 
And that is social skills and technology, or the loss of social skills…
 
By social skills I mean 21st Century Skills – communication, collaboration, critical thinking, creative confidence, empathy, self-awareness, leadership abilities, and more.
 
How much of these skills listed above can you practice and learn online?
 
I would say almost none…
 
Non-verbal communication accounts, even in modest terms for 70-80% of a message. With that one statistic alone we can see how hopeless it is when people spend more time alone on their digital devices and less time taking part in face-to-face meetings.
 
When they spend less time being human.
 
In 2005, when I started Aristotle’s Café and started training on how to facilitate small group discussions I saw people interacting with one another through agreement and disagreement. I saw people ready to take part in discussions that matter and people that were learning, but had some of the basic skills needed to interact in that way.
 
Fast forward to today with technology playing a larger and larger role in our lives and you can see the negative effects on social skills and technology. Elon Musk even went to far as to say, “We’re already a cyborg…You have a digital version of yourself, a partial version of yourself online in the form of your emails, your social media, and all the things that you do.” Again, there are good and bad things about technology and about that happening.
 
In my opinion this has created a situation where people are finding it harder to communicate effectively both offline and online.
 
If I look at social skills and technology I’ve seen extremes developing, and none of them good. Here are the characters I’ve seen emerging more and more as of late:

1. The Loudmouth:

We all know that guy (Yes, you heard me correctly, it’s typically a man that overpowers the conversation). Who simply feels everything he says is worth saying, valuable, interesting, important…
 
People experienced in meeting new people and having small groups discussions understand the concept of sharing floor-time. Make short, concise, powerful statements that make an impact and then listen for what others have to say.
 
That’s not how these individuals feel…
 
It’s like they’ve been holding ideas inside their whole lives and suddenly they need to tell everything about everything to everyone they can. What starts off as an interesting idea turns into a surprise monologue on everything from what they ate for breakfast to the meaning of life.
 
You’d think that it’s because they are confident and well-spoken that they do this. I wouldn’t say so, I’d say it’s an opposite reaction from someone who is extremely quiet and nervous – but both are the result of social anxiety.
 
Not knowing how to properly behave and interact with other people…
 
If you are one of these individuals then know how easy it is to listen and hear what the people around you are saying. Start to key into social cues and body language more so you can read your audience and see if you’re taking up too much floor time or not.

2. The Anxious:

I’ve seen people struggle more and more with expressing their ideas to someone they haven’t met before.
 
The plastic perfect nature of an online presence…
 
It just doesn’t prepare people to sometimes mumble or be misunderstood in person. More and more Millennials my age and younger come to our discussions and seem to need a longer time to collect their thoughts in order to speak up.
 
The most common things I hear are, “The discussion was moving so fast I didn’t have a chance to catch up during the hour”, “I had a lot of ideas but I wasn’t sure how to say them the right way.” Or simply “I didn’t feel comfortable to speak, maybe next time.”
 
For anyone that has those feelings and is reading this now, I sympathise with you and am not attacking you. The format of discussion we have is specifically created to give the chance to practice and build those skills. It’s just that I’ve seen an huge increase in these feelings in social anxiety issues and social media in the past several years.

3. The Algorithm Told Me Everyone Agrees with Me:

To be honest, these individuals always existed – people who are racist or prejudice because it’s how they were brought up or because they learned it along the way somehow.
 
The difference is in the past I would call them ignorant, but in the past people that were racist or hated a group of people or held stereotypes acted differently.
 
They kind of knew it was wrong in a way…
 
They might not really express themselves so blatantly or fiercely in public with a group of strangers.
 
Now I would term them uknowingly ignorant because in some cases it’s as if they have no concept that saying things like “women shouldn’t make any decisions”, or “Asian people are weak” isn’t seen as wrong. They’re shocked that there’s any pushback to what they have said, in many cases they can’t even wrap their heads around the fact that people disagree with it.
 
My hunch is that when it comes to social skills and technology platforms like Facebook show you content and information that aligns with the ideas that you already have. This leads to a huge chance for confirmation bias.
 
It’s human to believe what we want to believe…
 
On social media this is amplified by favoring information that confirms preexisting beliefs or preconceptions. This results in looking for creative solutions that confirm our beliefs rather than challenge them, making us closed to new possibilities.
good and bad things about technology polar

4. The Extreme Politically Correct (PC) Police

Based on the above categories it might have already struck a chord with a few people. Of course disagreement happens and what is written can never replace the ability to understand what comes from being in person with someone.

But no matter in person or online there seems to be a growing trend for people to feel it’s right to restrict what people can say or how they can say it.

Before I go any further we welcome all people – races, ethnicity, conservative, liberal, Christian, Muslim, Jewish, male, female, transgender, old, young, rich, poor, and everything and everyone.

Words and phrases that are historically racist or derogatory are not allowed.

At the same time we judge what is allowed to be said based on intention.

Having all these people in the room gives us the opportunity to uncover assumptions and really find out why people think the way they do, and allow them to face the reality of their assumptions.

For example, there might be someone who disagrees with homosexuality – but sitting across from them is wonderful and kind person sitting across from them that identifies as homosexual. In order for both of them to come to an understanding, there might be certain things that are difficult to say or talk about.

Censoring what can and can’t be said doesn’t allow for this to happen…

Instead, it’s better to create a space for disagreements within respect and reason. This is the only way to have important discussions that allow people to build empathy.

Good and Bad Things About Technology – Final Thoughts

If you looked at any of the categories above and didn’t see yourself in them, look again.

Good and bad things about technology effect us all. Introverts, extraverts, and everyone in between.

Did I Miss Something?

If you want to add some of your good and bad things about technology or ideas let me know in the comments below and let’s build an even better resource for anyone looking to find information on the subject.

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