Negative Impacts of Computers
One of the first negative impacts of computers and their related software that I would like to discuss can be seen in the arguments of Nicholas Carr in his book “The Shallows.” In it, Carr presents readers with the notion that the traditional method of reading books, essays and various other written works are superior to what is offered today on the internet (Carr 10). For Carr, the internet is a medium based on the concept of interruption where multitasking and rapid-fire reading is the norm rather than curious oddities (Carr 14). Reading short articles, responding to emails and chatting at the same time has become so ubiquitous with internet usage that most people barely give it a second thought. On the other hand, as Carr explains, this has resulted in people losing the ability to enter into a slow, contemplative method of thinking normally associated with reading novels in print (Carr 20). A crowding out effect can be seen where people find it harder to concentrate on lengthy articles, books or essays and a growing preference has developed for short, rapid-fire articles which can be browsed within a few minutes. For Carr, the perceived value of the internet is one of human deterioration where people lose the ability for solitary, single-minded concentration in favor of rapid-fire multitasking. In essence, the argument of Carr represents the proliferation of thousands if not millions of websites solely devoted to brief articles that do not even reach the initial steps of literary heights reached by classical and modern-day literature found in various books, novels, and academic journals. The second negative impact of computers and their software comes in the form of the dissociative manner in which people communicate with one another and how people have begun to prefer emotionless convenience over traditional emotional conversations. The modern world can be described as a fast-paced and erratic environment where actions need to be done immediately unlike in previous eras where a person could take their time to think things through properly. As a result of this need to rapidly communicate, the internet has become a means by which people communicate with their loved ones, friends, colleagues, and acquaintances through email or even chatting. Unfortunately, recent studies have shown that there has been a growing trend where people have begun to prefer the simple and immediate convenience of internet messaging rather than going to the person themselves and talking to them upfront. As a result, our society as a whole is continuing to foster an attitude of isolationism where simple face to face conversations are considered a slow and time-consuming action when the fast rapidity of the internet is preferable. The last of these negative impacts are seen in the creation of various MMORPG (massively multiplayer online role-playing games), such software programs are intrinsically designed to capture person attention and keep it. The popular online RPG World of Warcraft has aspects that were designed by psychologists to encourage addiction to the game itself. Unfortunately not only has this resulted in people wasting their times online it has created an entire age group of individuals that define themselves not by what relationships they develop through regular social interaction but rather with the people they meet online which further fosters enhancement of the distinctly isolationist tendencies begun by trends in online internet messaging. The situation where people feel isolated and prefer online content rather what is present in the real world is similar to the concept of the red pill and blue pill from the movie “The Matrix.” In it the character Morpheus gives people the option to either see the truth or remain in a fantasy world; for many individuals devoted to online content, they would prefer to remain in their fantasies rather than accept reality. One method of preventing this would be to limit the overall time people can spend online however because most people are free to do what they want such a method is largely ineffective and to this day remains one of the leading causes for the continuing trend in social isolation. It is due to this that I have become disillusioned over the progress of technology as such I have become a technological pessimist rather than an optimist as a result of this continued trend of social isolation that continues to persist in our society as a result of computers and various software programs.
There is one fact that remains true and unchanging in this ever-shifting world, and it is this: “not everything you read or see on the internet can be considered the cold hard fact.” For every fact that is posted online there are hundreds of other online articles that say and mean the exact opposite of what was stated. Ethical obligation towards the presentation of facts only applies when it deals with a professional presentation, project or paper that will be relied upon as a source of accurate information. Personal websites or blogs are not meant as a credible source of information despite various individuals claiming them to be so. In terms of ethical obligations, there does not seem to be anything particularly wrong in posting something inaccurate on a personal site so long as the readers understand that not everything they read is wholly accurate. The ethical obligation only comes into play when the website/websites in question are meant for other purposes beyond that of personal use such as a way to educate particular people about a topic. It is only then that some measure of ethical obligation does come into play, but there is no enforcing principle behind it.
In his book “Cognitive Surplus” Clay Shirky explains that the internet acts as an open platform for a contribution where user-driven content and collaboration drives social and cultural development (Shirky 5). Collaborative efforts such as Wikipedia, Wiki’s and social networking sites such as blogs, twitter, and online message boards all contribute to utilizing the aptly named cognitive surplus towards creating an ever-increasing amount of user-driven content that contributes towards societal development. As such content available on facebook, twitter, myspace, etc., is considered a way in which a person either positively or negatively impacts societal development through his or her unique contributions (Shirky 15). A company needs to know this kind of information to better evaluate a person as a potential candidate for employment since what they contribute to society determines what they will contribute to the company. As such the practice of checking up on people to see if they are a positive force for society is in a way ethical since it does safeguard the integrity of the company. While a certain type of information should remain private, contributions of various individuals such as blog posts and twitter feeds are in the public domain, and as such, it is by their own choice that it becomes public, no one forced them to post it online.
Carr, Nicholas. What the Internet is Doing to our Brains The Shallows. New York:
Norton & Company, 2010. eBook.
Shirky, Clay. Cognitive Surplus: Creativity and Generosity in a Connected Age. New
York: Penguin Press, 2010. eBook.