How Technology Makes Us See a Forest without Any Trees

Technology is, perhaps one of those words which most conspicuously describes the gist of the 21st century. It came in steadfast, but now it has totally stormed us.

It has led us to advancement, so much so that we are capable of progressing by leaps and bounds today. But, what most of us do not realize is that it is a double-edged sword.

It may have fortified us in achieving success in our pursuits, but it has also incapacitated us in a many a thing that we may not even pay attention to consciously.

This is how I analogize it. Technology makes us see only the forest without any trees. To put in a more lucid manner, technology ropes us in to immerse ourselves in so much that we only see the big picture, that is, the forest. What we do not see is the trees that make up this forest, that is, the small yet important things that matter.

If I had to put my finger on one thing that technology has wrecked us with, it would be multitasking.

I still remember my uncle telling me, when I was still a kid, “Idlers never have time.” I could not really understand it back then, but now I can make 100% sense out of it, and that, in more than one ways.

The Truth about Multitasking

Okay! Let’s not compare us to our mothers who used to cook, clean, launder and even take care of the kids, all at the same time. Technology has simply got us manacled in such a way that we are simply unable to set ourselves free, even if we want to. Though I don’t think we want to, anyway.

Television, smartphones, social media, email, video-conferencing, and online shopping are only a few things that best describe our ingredients for life. This is what we are actually found doing.

Having dinner while watching TV; texting while reading; checking emails in meetings; browsing facebook while talking to family and friends; driving to short distances when we can walk; still stuck with social media at bed-time; and last, but never the least, those 30 minutes of internet exploration while you ease yourself in the most private part of your house called the toilet.

And, we think we are smart for having continued to do all that.

But wait, here is what the truth is, and research at the Stanford University validates it.

  • Multitasking takes you off emotional connections and stunts your emotional growth, which is manifest by the way we prioritise texting when a person is still having a tete-a-tete with us.
  • It stagnates our creativity. Why that happens can be attributed to the lack of attention that our acquired hyper-technological nature haunts us with.
  • Management skills go to the dogs. Yes! Don’t go by all those fictitious dramatizations of a how successful people are always connected to phone and email. In real life, it only worsens management skills. When we multitask, we lose the power to filter out the information that is unnecessary.

No wonder why so many working people (children, adolescents, as well as adults) suffer from ADHD.

We Only End up Fooling Ourselves

The same research indicates that people who multitask only think that they are efficient. The reality, however is that they are worse managers than those who do not multitask at all, or those who do that rarely.

These pseudo-dextrous people are often slow and almost always inefficient.

And This is What Happens When You See Just the Forests and Not the Trees

  • Life is Passing You By

This one even surpasses the question of seeing trees or forests, this one is like being totally blind to the people that are around you and, especially the ones who care about you. The inability is to stop noticing the most obvious things around you.

Almost two-thirds of young urban population today walks with their eyes buried into their smartphones. This is not something they may be doing on purpose. The truth is that their brains have been  trained so, by now, that they fail to register people and the surroundings around them.

Missing how your family and friends wish to be with you; missing the simple pleasures of going for a picnic without taking calls and reading emails; checking in for your honeymoon announcing it to the world on facebook - your life is simply passing you by. 

  • You Probably do not Know How Much You are Eating

For this very reason your parents always asked you to eat your meals in peace. Latest studies that draw on previous studies and on new subjects, suggest that any distraction during mealtime can even disrupt your brain activity and prevent it from processing the food fully.

This is the reason why it may not really tell you that you are full, thus resulting in bingeing.

So, eating with television on, or reading emails on your computer, or getting involved in an animate discussion can actually make you overeat to a great extent.

  • Your Cognitive Ability is Only Getting Worse

Can you be watching a movie and be preparing a report, both at the same time? Neither will you grasp any engaging details of the movie, nor be able to write anything of value in the report.

This is what our children try to do. Do they not? Write their homework with the TV on? Why do we stop them? Because we fully realize the sense of the phenomenon called concentration. 

Sudden and continuous shifts of task can badly disrupt your brain’s ability to concentrate on even one given task. The memory, in this case starts failing. Even the most basic experiments of psychology, on subjects, as young as adolescents, prove this.

  • Relationships? They are All Virtual Now

Multitasking is creating more trouble than you think it is, when it comes to relationships. When was the last time you sat and talked to your partner or played with your children without getting disrupted by a text message? When was the last time you chose to go out for a walk with you spouse rather than playing game on your PlayStation?

Most often such issues rupture communication, and create indifference between not only couples, but also between family and friends.

In this regard, a very interesting study was conducted under the aegis of the University of Essex. It suggests that, whether or not you are using a cellphone, even the presence of it in your proximity can raise distrust between couples.

  • Your Creativity Loses its Shine

Down the drain the goes your creativity. When you multitask, a big chunk of your memory is consumed, a large part of the temporary brain storage, in fact. So, when this is exhausted in all the tasks that you are trying to do together, it goofs up and can fetch yo no good bright ideas anymore.

It then results in below average performance, not only at work, but also life in general. You soon end up losing vision and spontaneity.

For what I surmise, technology has made us complacent on the one hand, and overambitious on the other.

On the contrary, what totally escapes my sense of reason is that what it is that we want to achieve? To what limit do we want to stretch our faculties?

Is it not unfair to be dictated by something that we gave birth to? Are not the dictats too man-made?

I think all that we are missing is the time to sit for a few hours without our cell phones, watches, laptops, iPads, and all those things that keep us tied, and think what we are running after or missing life.


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