Tech-Addiction or Evolution

The early 21st century may be a watershed moment in how humans learn and communicate, a change perhaps not equaled since the invention of the printing press nearly six centuries ago. – Gregory Lamb

I’m not anti-tech. I’m no neo-Luddite. I love technology, just a lot too much. Adapting to technology is not an inherently bad thing, but when we adapt unconsciously, we become more like machines.

Like alcoholics trapped in a bar, we are part of a technological system. As the psychologist Chellis Glendinning once put it: “as human life comes to be structured increasingly by mechanistic [and technological] means, the psyche restructures itself to survive.” We are trying to survive our own creation.

We survive by unconsciously mimicking machines, which requires that we repress our most basic humanity.

The psychologist Carl Jung wrote, “The psychological rule says that when an inner situation is not made conscious [when we repress our humanity], it happens outside, as fate.”  Collectively and individually, we act out our trauma. We continue our split from the wild, and tame ourselves, because as Glendinning points out, “survival in the technological system requires that we act ‘cool’ and behave like machines.”

We adapt to our technological creations and it fundamentally alters us. We cleave our human wildness, our passion and entropy, and thereby wound ourselves. We anesthetize our humanity with electronic media, ignore our fellow humans by staring at smartphones, superficially relate through social networks, and play games rather than live life.

We traumatize ourselves with technology. Like an alcoholic who cannot stop drinking, we’re subjugated to an addictive system.

Our addiction to technology increases the cleaving from our wildness, but as psychotherapist Terry Kellogg tells us, “an addictive behavior is not natural to the human species. It occurs because some untenable violation has happened to us.” Indeed, our disconnection from the natural environment and exposure to an immense amount of information traumatize us, but we are not simply victims. Collectively and individually, we are both the victim and the perpetrator. Our collective abuse at the hands of our technology is not our fault, but how we respond to that trauma is our responsibility.

If technology were merely an evolutionary path, then we could stop using it once we recognized its harms. We didn’t stop. We keep drinking the poison even after we recognize its ills.

Using technology soberly requires more than self-will, discipline and conviction. It requires something greater.

This is an issue as important and unprecedented as climate change. We could create the most wonderful world for our kids but that’s not going to happen if we’re in denial and people sleepwalk into these technologies and end up glassy-eyed zombies. – Susan Greenfield


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