• Search
October 16, 2020 01:00:00 | MUKHTAR AHMAD FAROOQI

Social Media: Engineering our nature

There was a time when it was considered that nature of a person is determined by its genetic makeup but now it is considered that nature is determined by how we are nurtured in a particular environment

Given the technological prowess available to humans today, media has radically altered our nature and even merged with our nature. In such a scenario we need to evolve new ways of living, relating and experiencing the presence of each other. In other words, ours have become an "engineered nature". By engineered nature I mean a nature that has been so artificially and technologically created that it almost eats itself like an uroboros snake .In this context we need to consider a term called hyper reality that is hypothetical inability of consciousness to distinguish reality from fantasy, especially in technologically advanced cultures like ours. There was a time when it was considered that nature of a person is determined by its genetic makeup but now it is considered that nature is determined by how we are nurtured in a particular environment. This does not mean that I am against using avenues that has made the entire world a village. But being a tech savvy I encourage its use to the extent that it does not engineer our nature and lifestyle as we see nowadays. Technology in the form of prosthesis has given an eye, limb, tooth, heart valve, arm, hand etc. to the needy people and has given them a life which is worth living. In bionics it has resulted in manufacture of optimized and efficient products by studying biological methods and systems found in nature. A classical example is the development of dirt and water repellent paint from the observation that the surface of the lotus flower plant is practically unsticky. (Lotus effect)

Social Media is one such computer mediated technology that has helped people connect with near and dear ones to share information and ideas. On the one side they have united lost family members or found organ donors but on the flipside these platforms are literally making people addicted to the electronic devices. We all are acquainted with some popular social media platforms like Face book, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Instagram etc. But these tech companies are using their business models to keep us engaged on the screen. All tech giants which are mostly located in Silicon Valley use advertisers as customers and we as users are being sold. Using AI (Artificial Intelligence) they know what we like and when to recommend such things to us irrespective of our willingness. In a way it is changing our very perspective of different domains of life. Social Media is making us devoid of humanistic values of sympathy or empathy because when someone meets an accident we as pedestrians rather than helping the injured start sharing the video on social media for likes, shares and comments.

There is a documentary available titled “Social Dilemma” wherein some ex- employees of tech giants like Google, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest etc. are interviewed about their experiences on business models of tech companies and its effects on human behavior. According to one Tristan Harris who has worked as Design Ethicist in Google in the name of using AI (Artificial Intelligence) tools said that they are manipulating the human nature that is going to create an existential threat to human society at large in future if the issue is not understood and taken care of at an earliest.

Social Media has become hub of fake news/disinformation which is threatening societies around the world where it spreads like a virus and sometimes it becomes impossible to judge which news is fake and which one is real. Social Media has been used to polarize elections in the recent past mostly using unethical practices. Plastic surgeons have coined term Snapchat Dysmorphic wherein plastic surgery is done to look like selfie doodles. Author Jaron Lanier of “Ten Arguments for Deleting Our Social Media Account Right Now” tells about how these accounts are wrecking our lives. These platforms build temptation in us within a space of few minutes without even being aware of that. One such example is when we are eating our dinner/lunch, our attention remains towards the phone especially in younger ones who are eager to reply for some WhatsApp or other message that may have been received. Younger generation is becoming arrogant and depressed (developed behavioural problems) due to the excessive use of electronic devices or screen time.

Critics complain that nature –culture dualism is an undesirable Cartesian legacy. That is to say that we need to use technology to the extent that it does not result in the loss of one's individual self and identity. Technology should have been governed by us but rather it is seen that we are run by technology thereby engineering our nature to the extent that an individual will lose its self.  Albert Einstein once said that “I fear the day that technology will surpass our human interaction. The world will have a generation of idiots.” This quote is appropriate for those people who assemble together in any restaurant or tourist destination and get stucked to their mobile phones rather than interacting to each other. That is to say that we should use technology for learning or constructive purposes rather than wasting time by being online all the time on any social networking /blogging site resulting in becoming addict of that which is not absolutely necessary and devoiding us of our social values and thereby engineering our natural ability of being a social animal.

Social media sometimes becomes blessing in disguise but it has addictive properties and that part of technology can be damaging and detrimental to our personal lives. We get extremely involved (especially teenagers) that leads to social isolation. This age group is more vulnerable to cyber bullying, and online frauds. We should use screen time for productive activities and limit the time wasted on these apps. If we do some research on the life of developers of these tech companies, we come to know that their own children or they themselves don’t use these apps. Classic example of which is Steve Jobs who described iPad as extraordinary gadget on its launch in 2009 .After few weeks upon being asked by NYT reporter that “Your children must be enjoying I Pad”, he gave a shocking reply that they don’t use that device.  If we want to keep the social fabric and values of our society intact, then children up to the age of at least 16 shouldn’t be allowed to use social media at all especially when content being accessed is uncontrolled in nature. 

Box: We need to use technology to the extent that it does not result in the loss of one's individual self and identity

Archive
October 16, 2020 01:00:00 | MUKHTAR AHMAD FAROOQI

Social Media: Engineering our nature

There was a time when it was considered that nature of a person is determined by its genetic makeup but now it is considered that nature is determined by how we are nurtured in a particular environment

              

Given the technological prowess available to humans today, media has radically altered our nature and even merged with our nature. In such a scenario we need to evolve new ways of living, relating and experiencing the presence of each other. In other words, ours have become an "engineered nature". By engineered nature I mean a nature that has been so artificially and technologically created that it almost eats itself like an uroboros snake .In this context we need to consider a term called hyper reality that is hypothetical inability of consciousness to distinguish reality from fantasy, especially in technologically advanced cultures like ours. There was a time when it was considered that nature of a person is determined by its genetic makeup but now it is considered that nature is determined by how we are nurtured in a particular environment. This does not mean that I am against using avenues that has made the entire world a village. But being a tech savvy I encourage its use to the extent that it does not engineer our nature and lifestyle as we see nowadays. Technology in the form of prosthesis has given an eye, limb, tooth, heart valve, arm, hand etc. to the needy people and has given them a life which is worth living. In bionics it has resulted in manufacture of optimized and efficient products by studying biological methods and systems found in nature. A classical example is the development of dirt and water repellent paint from the observation that the surface of the lotus flower plant is practically unsticky. (Lotus effect)

Social Media is one such computer mediated technology that has helped people connect with near and dear ones to share information and ideas. On the one side they have united lost family members or found organ donors but on the flipside these platforms are literally making people addicted to the electronic devices. We all are acquainted with some popular social media platforms like Face book, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Instagram etc. But these tech companies are using their business models to keep us engaged on the screen. All tech giants which are mostly located in Silicon Valley use advertisers as customers and we as users are being sold. Using AI (Artificial Intelligence) they know what we like and when to recommend such things to us irrespective of our willingness. In a way it is changing our very perspective of different domains of life. Social Media is making us devoid of humanistic values of sympathy or empathy because when someone meets an accident we as pedestrians rather than helping the injured start sharing the video on social media for likes, shares and comments.

There is a documentary available titled “Social Dilemma” wherein some ex- employees of tech giants like Google, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest etc. are interviewed about their experiences on business models of tech companies and its effects on human behavior. According to one Tristan Harris who has worked as Design Ethicist in Google in the name of using AI (Artificial Intelligence) tools said that they are manipulating the human nature that is going to create an existential threat to human society at large in future if the issue is not understood and taken care of at an earliest.

Social Media has become hub of fake news/disinformation which is threatening societies around the world where it spreads like a virus and sometimes it becomes impossible to judge which news is fake and which one is real. Social Media has been used to polarize elections in the recent past mostly using unethical practices. Plastic surgeons have coined term Snapchat Dysmorphic wherein plastic surgery is done to look like selfie doodles. Author Jaron Lanier of “Ten Arguments for Deleting Our Social Media Account Right Now” tells about how these accounts are wrecking our lives. These platforms build temptation in us within a space of few minutes without even being aware of that. One such example is when we are eating our dinner/lunch, our attention remains towards the phone especially in younger ones who are eager to reply for some WhatsApp or other message that may have been received. Younger generation is becoming arrogant and depressed (developed behavioural problems) due to the excessive use of electronic devices or screen time.

Critics complain that nature –culture dualism is an undesirable Cartesian legacy. That is to say that we need to use technology to the extent that it does not result in the loss of one's individual self and identity. Technology should have been governed by us but rather it is seen that we are run by technology thereby engineering our nature to the extent that an individual will lose its self.  Albert Einstein once said that “I fear the day that technology will surpass our human interaction. The world will have a generation of idiots.” This quote is appropriate for those people who assemble together in any restaurant or tourist destination and get stucked to their mobile phones rather than interacting to each other. That is to say that we should use technology for learning or constructive purposes rather than wasting time by being online all the time on any social networking /blogging site resulting in becoming addict of that which is not absolutely necessary and devoiding us of our social values and thereby engineering our natural ability of being a social animal.

Social media sometimes becomes blessing in disguise but it has addictive properties and that part of technology can be damaging and detrimental to our personal lives. We get extremely involved (especially teenagers) that leads to social isolation. This age group is more vulnerable to cyber bullying, and online frauds. We should use screen time for productive activities and limit the time wasted on these apps. If we do some research on the life of developers of these tech companies, we come to know that their own children or they themselves don’t use these apps. Classic example of which is Steve Jobs who described iPad as extraordinary gadget on its launch in 2009 .After few weeks upon being asked by NYT reporter that “Your children must be enjoying I Pad”, he gave a shocking reply that they don’t use that device.  If we want to keep the social fabric and values of our society intact, then children up to the age of at least 16 shouldn’t be allowed to use social media at all especially when content being accessed is uncontrolled in nature. 

Box: We need to use technology to the extent that it does not result in the loss of one's individual self and identity