DEVELOPMENT OF INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY AND THE LOSS OF INTER-PERSONAL RELATIONSHIPS
Saturday, February 23rd, 2013
The phrase `we are happier than our forefathers` has never been truer than it is today. Drawing from the tail-end of the 20th century to the rays of hope that brightened the 21st century, the planet called earth has enjoyed a significant improvement in culture, thanks to innovative technological developments by Microsoft, Apple, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, yahoo, Google, MySpace, Word press, and gadgets like the blackberry, Ipad, IPhones, amongst others, which have heralded the development of Information Technology. The works of Bill Gates, Larry Page, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Mark Cuban etc, have undoubtedly made life better for the lot of a significant percentage of the world’s population. Information is now better transmitted to a larger audience with minimal effort, surprisingly, at the speed of light. Reaching out to people across the poles via social media networks, reuniting lost friends and creating new acquaintances have become the norm of the day. Business transactions are now effected more quickly and with minimal risk. Online purchasing has opened a phase in the marketing world where buyers and sellers need not necessarily know or meet each other, and this by no means diminishes transactional efficiency. All these and many more are the beauties of the novel concept of Information Technology.
In contrast, the beauty of the `ashes` that is the remains of Hiroshima and Nagasaki goes ahead to show the flip side of the ills of modern development and Information Technology. Swords and spears have been replaced with machine guns, missiles and nuclear warheads. The extermination of Jews in the gas chambers in Nazi-controlled parts of Europe was as much a development of technology as of ‘ingenuity’. With the mere flick of a button, the President of the United States (POTUS) can exterminate and eliminate states in different regions of the world. The horrors of the diverse civil wars fought in African countries like Libya and in the Middle East were brought to the comforts of our sitting room, once again depicting the animalistic nature of man. The murder of Osama bin laden, which took place in Pakistan, was viewed live by POTUS and his top security team from the other ‘edge’ of the globe in the situation room of the white house. Indeed, it is not far from the truth that it is the same combination of binary configurations that birth information technology that are used in the development of missiles and other deadly weapons. So much for the beauty of Information Technology.
Dreadful, controversial and interesting as the above might seem, the theme of this piece is encapsulated not around the ills and otherwise of the development of Information Technology, but on the effect it has on interpersonal relationships. Man, it has been said cannot exist in isolation, if in doubt, just cast a glance at Adam; the first man to inhabit the earth.
While Information Technology has gone to great lengths to ensure that we stay connected (pinging, tweeting, face booking, skyping, etc.), it has robbed us of our emotions. In the days of yore, when the primary means of communication, if not the only means of collective dissemination of information, was via town criers, the death of a young child or rape of a woman would unleash a cold feeling among the inhabitants of the particular environment where the act was committed. In fact, neighbouring villages or environs to which tales of such dreadful acts are transmitted would experience this cold feeling of awe, shock and pity, and discussions about the incident would abound on the playground, in the market place, in the farms and among the committee of elders. Today, the story is different, despite our feeling more alive to the tales. For example, news about the young Indian medical student who was gang raped on the streets of New Delhi was well broadcast on major cable networks, tweets were made about her, blogs were opened in her name for the struggle against such ills, yet the world is not really truly moved. We are aware of the stories and not blind to her plight that came to the peak with her demise in a Singapore hospital days later. We know but can`t emote with her due to the unabated in-flow of such terrible mishaps at a speed that our medula oblongata is not empowered to rationalise.
In the Niger Delta area of Nigeria, a video surfaced depicting kids, ten years and below, displaying unspeakable sexual acts. The video went viral, featuring prominently on social networks, thereby corrupting the innocence of a larger audience who, out of disbelief and curiosity, view the video. The country was in turmoil about the oracle of decadence and still had its head bent low when Boko Haram struck again in the North, then the focus of the news changed. Only a few days earlier, a plane missed the runway and crashed into a bridge in Russia, people at a watch-night service and New Year’s celebrations in Angola and Ivory Coast were also reported to have died in stampedes that occurred as a result of fire crackers, which exploded earlier than anticipated. Also, Pakistani militants opposed to female education have embarked on a killing spree, Syria, is churning out more corpses than a morgue. In the not too distant past, it was Libya and Egypt! The diverse violence erupting in the Central African Republic, Sudan as well as red skies in Iran, bloody streets of Syria, revealed to the world via ‘You tube’, the Sandy Hooks Elementary School shooting that left more than twenty people, most of whom were children, dead, have all but weakened the right cord in people to feel the deep pains of those that suffer such ills. Even you, the reader, might have forgotten that an Indian girl was raped and if you haven’t, you will be filled with temporary emotions about the news while awaiting the next.
This is not to belittle information technology; after all, the world is now a global village. If we owe ourselves the duty to always improve, it behoves us to also embrace technological development, whether or not it robs us of our emotions. True, chances for abuse abound. People, while using machines or driving, do divert their attentions when they simultaneously use social networking sites, thereby increasing the possibility of accidents. It is not very uncommon to see a friend on a voyage buried in the thrills of pinging all throughout the journey; in fact, at times people ping one another rather than communicate with words.
Yes, improvement in the IT industry is unmatched. The blackberry 10 has been released for sale, and it promises, like all others before it, to revolutionaize the IT world, and I am in line for the ownership of one, interpersonal relationship be damned! Afterall, information rules the world.
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