Computers Dictate Humanity

August 2, 2011
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“Every advantage has its disadvantage,” a proverb goes. The advent of the computer, including the Internet, revolutionizes the way people work. Numerous corporations have sprouted on the Internet, such as omnipotent search engines Google and Yahoo. People have access to computers in schools, businesses, and even on their personal cell phones. Children learn from the first day of school how to operate them fluently. Users can shop, communicate with friends, attend school, find future soul mates, entertain themselves, and have easy online access to information on virtually every single subject. People nowadays can accomplish much more in the same amount of time than those in the past decades. Life appears much faster and easier, but is it really better?

Computers beneficially assist people in everyday transactions and improve the quality of life. In a bustling, advanced nation, society craves for the speed and services provided by these powerful machines. Rather than sending letters the snail-mail way, people can send e-mails, chats, and even videos within seconds. Social networking sites let users share files and keep in touch with long-lost friends. The efficacy of organizing riots and demonstrations online can spur a nation to overthrow its dictator, as demonstrated in the Middle East. Since fewer people physically shop or receive services, the environment also benefits from reduced transportation. With online convenience, people can save time and make significant accomplishments with several clicks. Despite all the advantages, excessive reliance on computers negatively affects social interactions, health, safety, and social stratification.

People no longer live in the tangible world, but rather, online. Clicking their lives away, they grow socially awkward from a lack of exposure to other people. Instead of playing outside, enjoying natural surroundings, and getting together with friends, people glue their eyes to computer screens and spend hours in solitude. Children no longer have the same learning experiences that their parents had. After spending most of their day at home, children often distance themselves from society and become incapable of handling real-life situations in the physical world. They lack the social and interactive skills needed to succeed both personally and professionally. Not only will children suffer in the future, but they also struggle to make friends in school due to the absence of social experience. Consequently, peers tend to scorn these children, and bullies taunt them. No child deserves such humiliation and distress. A few decades ago, when computers were outlandish gadgets, many adults would spend most of their childhood playing and interacting with neighbors. However, this generation is born into an era of computers.

As a result, people begin to perceive that the value of computers exceeds that of people around them, including friends and family. Most of the communication is now done over computers. At school, students text more than they talk to their friends. Therefore, their actions suggest that real life discussions do not matter. Computers eat away the time users devote to their personal lives and people around them. People commit too much time to these personal devices; consequently, many love relationships end through e-mails and text messages. Even when people take the time to get together, some pay more attention to their phones than to those physically with them. For example, four people on a double date engross themselves in their phones rather than pay attention to the people at their table. Friends know so much about each other through social networking sites that physical meetings seem pointless. People of all ages are hooked online, seriously obliterating personal and social relationships. When people text on smart phones, check their emails, and update their online profiles, they essentially indulge themselves in a superficial world created by satellites and wires. This habit takes the humanity out of the people, subjects them to the slavery of computers, and deprives them of physical interaction with others. When the human aspect in relationships disappears, the purpose of life will be reduced to flashing LED lights on a screen.

Not only does habitual computer use ruin relationships, but it also destroys the physical and mental health of individuals. With all the available entertainment and interest in information, time passes quickly. In fact, many grow addicted to staying online when movies, video games, and other entertainment websites captivate and sometimes victimize their audience. Many children lack the mental strength or self-discipline to pull themselves away from the screen and work on something more productive. Even after a day of work or school, people return home just to sit for several more hours in front of a computer screen. By spending too much time in from of computers, they gain weight, get headaches, and develop strained eyes. Laziness prevails, and people no longer wish to perform daily tasks. Rather than letting time drain away, children and adolescents can spend it exercising, forming healthy relationships, and gaining valuable experiences. Inactivity at a computer also contributes to the rising problem of obesity. After indulging in foods with high levels of sugar, people spend their free time playing online video games instead of actively burning off calories. In addition, many lack vitamin D or sun exposure from staying indoors for too long. Human bodies need sunlight to maintain a component of their health. In the past, skin cancer concerned most doctors because people spent too much time outdoors. However, the situation has completely reversed. Computer addicts adopt a harmful, sedentary lifestyle which deteriorates their health.

Online safety poses another issue. Although users feel comfortable and carefree working in privacy, their safety is still at risk. Online predators and pedophiles often target ignorant and inexperienced children who reveal too much information about themselves. Such events lead to tragic kidnappings, murders, and sexual assaults. Imposters and hackers lurk everywhere. They send emails that lure receivers into opening seemingly authentic websites that ask for personal information such as names, addresses, and bank account numbers. Once they obtain personal information, hackers steal identities and withdraw money from banks. The websites may also release viruses and other harmful components into personal computers. In other cases, charlatans disguise themselves as FBI agents in e-mails and instill fear into the readers to trick them into paying hefty fines. The Internet also fosters a perfect environment for everyday users to stalk each other. Especially on social networking sites such as Facebook and Myspace, people search other’s profiles, follow statuses, and rummage through all their pictures. Furthermore, negative comments online are harsher than those in real life, and yelling in all caps occurs commonly. Because many people no longer speak face to face, they do not have qualms about making disrespectful comments online. Although users feel safe and private in their homes while working on computers, reality reveals that online dangers, predators and bullies, are ubiquitous.

The excessive use of computers also hinders the performance of students and their work. Instant messaging, tweets, and e-mails all promote informal and brief sentences or comments. As a result, those who spend more time online often write in an unsophisticated manner and consider fragments as complete sentences. Though people prefer brevity in informal situations, essay writing and business work all require formality to make documents official. Many students struggle with the formal usage of language. Messages online discourage the use of critical thinking skills needed to write complex and meaningful sentences. Grammar is such a widespread issue that the College Board, the company that administers the SAT intelligence tests, added the Writing Section in 2005. Studies demonstrate a direct correlation between informal communication online and improper spelling and grammar. Since people directly type on computers, writing and penmanship seem obsolete. Some elementary schools now eliminate cursive lessons and replace them with computer training. The physical act of writing beneficially exercises and sharpens the memory of one’s brain. Students who type instead of write often require more time to memorize information. Penmanship still matters because companies often hire people with good handwriting. In addition, students in classrooms no longer pay attention to their teachers. Students care more about computers and their superficial online personas than they do about their education. Texting and phone usage have interfered with lessons. Because of quick responses from friends and instant results from online searching, students develop a short concentration span which negatively affects their ability to follow long lectures in class. The acronyms used online are even apparent in real life conversations and formal essays. People speak and write acronyms such as “ur,” “ily,” and “gtg” instead of articulating each word. Peers discuss topics with each other and with their teachers as if they talk online. The effects of spending time on computers clearly hinder the education of many students.

People also absorb so much useless information that occupies valuable brain space. With so much to read online, society becomes so overwhelmed and bombarded that it takes the energy and time out of people’s lives. They must now learn the new skill of creating a distinction between important and insignificant data. Society grows idle as a result of all the available resources. Even mentally, children and adults do not receive the same type of critical thinking practice from doing physical research in books and encyclopedias. With pages of statistics readily available online, the majority of the population no longer exercises its brains to select essential information in books or other sources.

Computers equally distribute information and knowledge around the world by providing people easy access to them. Knowledge is essentially socialized globally. One of the guiding principles of socialism includes an equal distribution among the mass. Therefore, the current society is following a trend toward socialism. In “The Law,” Frederic Bastiat suggests that this universal access is really “legal plunder.” From Bastiat’s perspective, he would view this socialist distribution of knowledge as a violation, by law, of mental property. Knowledge is wealth and power. Studies reveal a direct correlation between earning capacity and access to information. Previously, only the elite had access to information from exclusive sources. Therefore, the affluent and educated members of society used to receive high-paid jobs and retain their wealth while the poor continued to take low-pay ones. Now, information is available to the masses as well. The introduction of computers in each household resulted in a redistribution of information to everyone. Therefore, the earning capacity of children from low-income families can be commensurate with those of the rich. Because knowledge is no longer monopolized by the privileged few, almost every person can obtain any information they want. With a large population of equal knowledge and therefore similar earning capacity, wealth begins to even out in society. Widespread access to knowledge promotes socialist class re-stratification, or restructuring. On the global level, this trend is also the contributing reason to why nations such as China, India, and Brazil are emerging as new economic powers. America is not declining, but rather, the rest of the world is rising in this technologically transparent society. Similarly, this socio-economic change is occurring on the national level as well.

The drawbacks of computers significantly outweigh the benefits. The application of computers has advanced the speed, capacity, and quantity in many aspects of life, but it does not necessarily improve the quality of human life. It benefits society physically and intellectually at times, but not morally, legally, and compassionately. Because of computers, people now live in a world online which emphasizes superficial relationships and jeopardizes interpersonal ones. Social awkwardness defines people due to the greater devotion to computers than to family and friends. Excessive use also leads to endangered safety and health issues. Because of computers, students have difficulty with concentrating on their schoolwork, and society suffers from a total access to knowledge. The computer allows people to take too many shortcuts in life. As a result, the work and activities done online do not carry true substance and or provide experiences with lasting effects. With all these problems that computers create for humans, the key lies in re-instilling the traditional values of family, community, education, exercise, self-discipline, and hard work. Rather than allowing students to start typing on word processers, teachers should still encourage the physical act of writing to practice good penmanship. People also need to reassess their health and act accordingly by allotting less time for computers. Humans should emphasize that the value of the tangible world with real interactions surpasses that of the networks online. If society does not dramatically limit its use of computers, people will soon transform into subjects of their computer masters. People must take control of their own lives before these machines dictate humanity.





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