Has technology made us ruder?

Earlier this month, the Soundings program was responsible for bringing one of the more “current” issues to Castleton, taking it right to the people to which it pertains. Professor Jarice Hanson raised the question of, “Has technology impacted who we are?”She made points about how immediate everything is; we can communicate with anyone (or everyone) instantly, without even giving it a second thought. She brought up the follow-up question of, “Has this made society ruder on the whole?”

Hanson cited examples of people talking on their cell phones in places where it may be distracting to others, as well as more serious instances such as the suicides caused by cyber-bullying.

On the less serious end of the spectrum, think about something as simple as posting a comment on Youtube. You can get in arguments with people that you don’t even know, saying whatever you want with absolutely no consequences. Complete anonymity is one of the unique features of the Internet, and it has probably the most impact on how we act online. Has this lessened our inhibitions as to what we do and say in day-to-day situations, and if so, can this series of events lead to actions with real consequences?

It’s no secret that there have been suicides lately due to bullying online, whether the bullying be in the form of a kid’s mom creating a fake Facebook page to ruin another kid, or a college student uploading a compromising video of someone for the entire world to see. Are these the result of changes brought on by technological advances, though?

We believe that these events could not take place without the presence of individuals with serious inborn malice. While technology contributed to the event and made it easier for the bullying to take place, it is definitely not what caused the “bullies” to act the way they did. It takes a seriously messed up person to consider doing what either of the aforementioned individuals did, and technology cannot be held responsible for making them that messed up.

Has the presence of technology made society ruder on the whole? Perhaps it has. We walk around with headphones in and our heads down, sometimes ignoring the outside world for our own personal satisfaction. However, technology did not create the monsters that lurk on the Internet. They were always out there, it’s just that they previously didn’t have a way to reach the world.

Technology may be the medium, but it is not the cause.

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