Is Technology a Force for Good?

The debate on whether technology is a force for good or bad is an ongoing one. This infographic from ‘happiness’ company Happify attempts to answer the question, highlighting statistics and insights such as the following:

  • More than four out of ten people feel that technology makes them more productive.
  • Less than on in ten feel that technology has caused a dip in their productivity.
  • Studies show that constant connectivity actually hurts productivity and increases stress levels.
  • Seven out of ten people say they have been treated kindly online.
  • Only one in four people say they have been treated badly online.
  • Some research suggests that social media usage can trigger negative feelings of envy, lower self-esteem, loneliness and an overall sense of dissatisfaction
  • The crowd-pulling power of the internet can be a real force for good, particularly when harnessed for charitable or problem-solving purposes. For example, according to the infographic, over half of the people surveyed said they had seen an online group come together to support either a community or an individual.
  • It is possible to form an addiction to technology, leading to a variety of potentially harmful consequences; however, there are antidotes to enable a “more balanced digital life”, as the infographic points out.

So Is Technology a Force for Good?

It depends on how you use it. Is technology for you a means to an end that you have defined, or is it an end in itself? If it’s the latter, you may develop a tricky relationship with technology, and not necessarily a positive one. For example, do you use the internet to find information to support your ideas or as a substitute for your own analytical thinking? If it’s the latter, you’re probably not alone. Unfortunately, though, the speed, volume and ease with which information is shared online can diminish our ability to think analytically. This can lead to a lack of confidence, self-esteem and opportunities to develop.

This line of thinking - that the internet can diminish our sense of responsibility to think for ourselves - has been proven in research. Reflecting and thinking analytically takes time – and effort. In this our age of instant gratification, time and effort are easily replaced by convenience and speed. This can erode our ability to think critically and just makes us, well, lazy. There’s always someone ‘out there’ who can answer our question. How many times have we popped a question into Google, for example, before struggling with ourselves to find the answer?

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So what do you think? Is technology a force for good, or for bad?