Jun 7, 2019 in Sociology
Technology and Modern Society

Modern society is a logical consequence of the drastic changes in the intellectual sphere, which took place in the 20th century. The development of science and technology transformed the industrial society into informational, which forms on the distribution of knowledge and information. Such turn had an enormous impact on the various spheres of human’s life. A great number of phenomena became more complicated or on the contrary too primitive and bare. Although the technological break caused the appearance of many devices that made the communication easier, the phenomenon of people’s communication lost its existential dimension. The face-to-face interaction has become something weird and seldom. More and more people are giving reference to mobile phones and computers, which enable the dialogues in the sphere of the Internet. I consider virtual communication to be danger to humans’ coexistence and harmonious communication. However, it is not wise not to perceive the advantages of such new opportunities. Thus, I believe that technological progress plays a crucial role in both unification and alienation of people.


The chosen pictures show people, who are physically together because they share one space but mentally far from each other. They ignore the presence of others around them due to the gadgets, which attract attention and absorb the minds. The children do not play and have fun. They do not talk. They are involved in the mobile phones, which replace the reality and create a virtual dimension that seems to be better than real life. But is it so in fact? Indeed, the internet can produce a great number of simulations, which tend to take a stand of the real feelings, emotions, games, interactions, etc. It opens a wide range of new opportunities, which cannot attract not only children but adults too. It is extremely striking to explore the new horizons and be able to share the discoveries with somebody, who can appreciate it. However, such simulacrums are not always worth. People, who do not pay attention to real communication, may be lonely and miserable due to the lack of actual support, understanding and sincerity. In spite of the fact that people may possess a lot of friends in the virtual environment, they can seek for real communication, which does not appear in the majority of cases in the vast expanses of the Internet.  


Without any doubt, many experts admit that with the help of the modern technology “people with easy access to others ought to feel better connected and more strongly supported by others, leading to happiness and engagement in families, organizations, communities, and society more generally”. In general, such point of view has a right to exist. Moreover, it is necessary to be critical and reflexive so as to pursue the goal of objectivity and endeavor to define both advantages and weaknesses of a particular position. Thus, it is difficult not to accept the argument that the technological progress has contributed to the development of means of communication that helped people attain more freedom. However, there is a sacrifice that is necessary so as to accept the new reality – the existential dimension of human’s communication and personal attitude to other people. That means that although the new opportunities have occurred, the new problems and misunderstanding has appeared too. 


The picture with children is extremely demonstrative. It illustrates the controversies of the contemporary technological development and its consequences. It seems that children gather together with a purpose. Apparently, they are going to celebrate somebody’s birthday – the most personal festive occasion that could be. Despite the festive outlook, there is no appropriate mood or attitude because of the wrong concentration. Children with joy, tension, disgust, impatience, and curiosity look on the screens of their mobile phones. They are obsessed with their affairs in the virtual space. Therefore, the communication happens with those, who are far from the location of children and not with those, who are friends and sit next to each other. Without any doubt, it is a negative tendency caused by the social and technological transformations of the contemporary society. 


The critics may argue that such image is not an argument for the negative impact of modern technology because it captures a particular moment. Thus, it cannot be extended to the understanding of all human activities. Such counterclaim seems to be justified and I accept such position. Indeed, it is not professional to exaggerate the validity of inductive data. However, in my opinion, such criticism is not complete because there are researches that support the proposed thesis. Moreover, even if the image illustrates only one plot of the life scenery it does not mean that submission of suppositions or generalization it inadmissible. On the contrary, such images provoke the reflection and may be the sources of further analysis. Thus, it is necessary to perceive them not as the ultimate arguments and truth, but as a necessary origin of reflection and controversy. Only thorough research without radical skepticism is the key to success.  


The individuals become isolated and alienated. They “may reduce the time devoted to off-line social interaction” so as to exist in the virtual dimension. Such people do not understand the significance of the real interaction and lose a constitutive element of harmonious life. It is not a mistake of people alone. It is necessary to realize that it is impossible to deny the objective tendencies in a social life. At the same time, the individualistic tendency combined with the accomplishments of technological progress cannot persuade people to refuse from the real communication. Therefore, in my opinion, such situation is not solely rational. 


People become addicted to the technical devices due to their irrational sides. They do it unconscious because they feel that with the help of a gadget it is apparent to discover a new world and solve personal problems. For instance, in a case when children do not gain enough attention and maintenance from their parents, they are likely to seek for support in virtual space, where nobody knows each other. The anonymity provokes the increasing trust that is not, however, a genuine one. Such attitude towards depersonalized consumers, which exist somewhere far away, is a natural psychological reaction, which becomes possible with the occurrence of the new communicational technologies. It may appear even in practical life. However, the personal attitude towards the communication changes.


In my opinion, the communication with the help of devices in the Internet is also communication and it is better that absolute loneliness. People can share their thoughts, impressions, feelings, emotions, etc. with others, who can give a piece of advice or encourage them. Moreover, it is possible to gain the needed effect in a short time due to the speed of the technology. There is no sense to wait for a letter for weeks, which comes from the another part of the world. 


In addition to that, the communication in the virtual environment is much easier than in practical life. People do not have to be sincere in the Internet. They do not have to reveal their personalities. Thus, it is possible to try on a great number of masks and images that can hide the real character. Such strategy is not complicated because it does not demand many efforts and thorough work. A person can ask for help or just discuss a particular topic with other people, who do not possess an interest in the communication with this person. In such space almost everybody is indifferent to another person. Such tendencies are the direct impact of the technological and scientific progress, which has led to the occurrence of new communicational media and transformed the contemporary outlook in the way of anonymity and easy relationships. 


Another relevant to this topic photo shows people in the public transport who are too busy playing or managing a timetable with the help of their mobile phones. This image resembles the first one due to its meaning: people are not in the place, where they in fact are. Mentally people are far away in their devices. The second image stresses the idea that modern society is a community of individuals, who do not care about other people, thinking only about themselves. The human beings are indifferent to others because the only thing that matters is the personal profit. Such tendency is global because of the increasing pace of life, caused by the scientific and technological development. There is no time left for extra activities. 


Unfortunately, the communication and interpersonal interaction has become such unnecessary extra level, which is additional and not extremely significant. People do not consider sincerity and free time to be constitutive for the harmonious life anymore. I am not under the impression that strangers in the public transport should be willing to start an existential communication with each other just because they share common space in a particular moment. In my opinion, it is necessary to analyze the tendencies, which exist in the modern world. Thus, the analyzed images symbolize, apparently in the exaggerated way, the general attitude towards the common life of people. 


Those strangers in the public transport are aliens, who are concerned only with their problems. Such egoistic individuals do not want to create shared space for dialogue, which can become a platform for discussions and moral development of its participants.  Experts have already assumed the origination of such tendency. According to Allik and Realo, “many social scientists have predicted that one inevitable consequence of modernization is the unlimited growth of individualism, which poses serious threats to the organic unity of individuals and society by paving a road to social atomization, unbounded egoism, and distrust.”. 


The two analyzed photos do not contain any logical fallacies. Moreover, they are not too pathetic. Their significance and relevance emerge due to the restraint and cynicism, which the author uses so as to create a wanted atmosphere and provoke the intellectual reflection of the auditory. Their influence strengthens the characters and their indifferent appearance. It is easy to believe the pictures, especially one with children, because it is more likely to trust children, then adults. Moreover, the dissonance of a known nature and mood of kids and their actual behavior in the image has a great impact on the humans’ archetypes. People associate children with communication, games and active interaction. However, the image opposes this traditional view and stresses the new peculiarities of face-to-face interaction and interpersonal communication. Therefore, such visual objects are efficient instruments of persuasion and have to be considered as a visual kind of rhetorical argumentation. 


To sum up, now it is an epoch of the individualistic society, where the most significant values are time, knowledge, and information. This society is a constant distribution of such values. Thus, every person is willing to receive and consume as much as possible without taking into consideration other people, who surround her. With the occurrence of the new communicational media, such tendencies become stronger. People are lonely living with many random strangers. The analyzed images illustrate the increasing alienation and isolation, which appears against the background of intensive communication in the virtual space. People experience fear in existential communication and do not want to reveal their personality. Therefore, despite the fact that the Internet increases the opportunities to share thoughts, it has a negative impact on the psychological state of people, who face up to various problems in face-to-face interaction. Thus, it is significant not to shut the eyes to the negative aspects of the social transformation and pursue the goal of objective research and analysis. Such investigation is possible due to the various materials and images, in particular, which can express the meaning not worse than verbal sources. Thus, the analyzed images provide a necessary information for the analysis and are essential rhetorical arguments. 



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