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Technology, namely computers and the internet, appears to be overused and, to some extent, addicting. Without a doubt, computers and the internet have dominated our lives for decades, changing the way we socialize, educate, enjoy ourselves, and live in general. Convenience, interesting material, privacy, cheap cost, autonomy, and aesthetic inspiration all lead to a high level of psychoactive participation. By psychoactive, we mean mood-altering and possibly behaviorally influencing substances. To put it another way, modern technologies, particularly the use of the internet, have an impact on how we live and even love. Therefore, it is in the contention that the effects of using computers and the internet have tremendous effects that are indeed less than positive. Their use may contribute to a variety of negative psychological effects that puts people in a situation similar to the prisoners in Plato’s Allegory of the Cave.
The use of computers and the internet is amoral, that is, it is neither inherently good nor evil. What is certain is the fact that technology influences the way individuals live their lives. The world of technology has blindfolded us to the extent that is almost parallel to religious fanaticism. It is the cave that users are as prisoners. People have become psychologically and physically dependent on the use of computers and the internet on many substances and behaviors for years, probably much the like prisoners entire life. Hu, Zheng & Li (2016) notes that this is especially prevalent with college students who do not have a clear understanding of the hazards of constantly using computers and the internet. This is a compulsive pattern that is not reflective of a casual interest but rather encompasses a driven pattern of usage, which can frequently escalate to influence our lives negatively.
Plato’s Allegory of the Cave is richly wonderful for understanding individual’s addiction to computers and the internet. Most people who become glued to their computerized gadgets and the internet become prisoners enchained to what technology has to offer. What starts as fun and beneficial use begins to grow troubling with negative psychological effects that are difficult to stop (Lopez-Fernandez, 2015). The user becomes chained to the use of the technology differently to others who use it passively. They become fixated to a shadow reality that does not conform to their outside world. While the negative effects of the use of computers and the internet may be noticed, it can still be written off or excused as merely atypical. For instance, many psychologists do not believe internet addiction as an actual disorder, but rather a consequence of unhappiness and boredom.
The light from the fire reflects the shadows of moving artifacts on the cave wall that is in front of the detainees, who consider the shades as actual things. This is akin to the ontological importance that a lot of people have attributed to their computers and the use of the internet. They converse about the latest inventions and the trending topics on the social networks as if this is all there is concerning ‘reality.’ Still, the brightness of the light may be painful, as many computer and the internet dependent users realize after not using their gadgets and surfing the internet for some time. This is why people tend to check their smartphones time and again for social media likes on their posts, trending topics or even for texts messages. Retreating to their ‘familiar darkness’ of computer and internet (cave) brings back comfort.
Few individuals tend to realize the impact of technology use and tries as hard to remain real to their environment (Hu, Zheng & Li, 2016). While they may struggle to stay away from the internet or balance their actual life with their online presence, they finally find the balance through learning how to balance their emotional lives. For addicted internet users, trying to get them out of habitual habit to stay online is close to impossible. Many cannot imagine their lives without either a computerized gadget or a means to browse the internet.
More specifically is the use of social media as one of the uses of the internet relates to the Allegory of the cave. Many social media users tend to filter their posts to only include the glamorous and fun aspects of their lives (Pouyioutas, 2012). The audience who are the recipients are not privy to the hidden aspects of that person’s life. In that line, what is perceived on the social media sites is not the reality. Nonetheless, many people following such posts live in ignorance as much as the prisoners who continue to believe that their projected shadows are their lives reality. Whereas ignorance prevents the realization of wisdom and eventually causes eudemonia, the current consumption of information on social media sites has consequences. Following such posts breeds envy as well as other negative emotions in people that are not good for their happiness if they constantly compare themselves to others.
Clinical data reveals that a substantial number of internet consumers compulsively spend many hours online and that the population may be in danger of depression (Choliz, Echeburúa & Labrador, 2012). The fact that a study on nonclinical samples demonstrated that the internet users may lead to loneliness, depression and decreased social event confirms that its use puts people in a similar situation to that of the prisoners. It has been proven beyond reasonable doubt that these technologies can lead to both clinical and social problems. The ultimate effect is similar with regard to potential life impact that in the case of compulsive behavior can be significantly large. In most cases where there is a highly pleasurable human behavior that can be derived in the absence of the human interface, there appears to be a greater prospect for abuse. The internet addictions is especially common with the teenage population who are greatly vulnerable to addiction. Perhaps, these sought of prisoners have less impulse control, are poor long-term planner and tend to minimize the possibility of dangerous behaviors.
Technology, and especially, computers and the internet, appear to be greatly abused or misused, and at worst, become addictive. It is, therefore, very clear that computers and the use of the internet have brought about a host of Internet-enabled challenges. The fact that these technologies provide a combination of visual stimulation, anonymity, ease of content access, autonomy and convenience all contribute to a highly mood altering experience that can significantly impact many aspects of life. Everyone would concur that technology affects the way people love and live. However, it should be understood that unless these technologies improve the quality of life, they are of no benefit. Just because they are brilliant technologies does not mean they are non-threatening.
Choliz, M., Echeburúa, E., & Labrador, F. (2012). Technological Addictions: Are These the New Addictions?]. Current Psychiatry Reviews, 8(4), 290-291. http://dx.doi.org/10.2174/157340012803520540
Greenfield, D. N. (1999). Virtual Addiction: Sometimes new technology can create new problems. Retrieved September 28, 2005.
Hu, W., Zheng, Y., & Li, Y. (2016). Internet Addiction of College Students from the Psychological Perspective. Destech Transactions On Social Science, Education And Human Science, (isetem). http://dx.doi.org/10.12783/dtssehs/isetem2016/4415
Lopez-Fernandez, O. (2015). How Has Internet Addiction Research Evolved Since the Advent of Internet Gaming Disorder? An Overview of Cyberaddictions from a Psychological Perspective. Current Addiction Reports, 2(3), 263-271. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s40429-015-0067-6
Pouyioutas, P. (2012). Plato's Allegory of the Cave in the Digital Era of the Internet, Web 2.0 Applications, Social Networks and Second Life- An Educational, Political and Social Interpretation. IADIS International Conference ICT, Society And Human Beings, 137-141.
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