When Technology Mediates Reality

When Technology Mediates Reality

“One only need look at people engrossed on their phones in a busy airport”

Everyone perceives there is something wrong with the excessive use of electronic devices. One only need look at people engrossed on their phones in a busy airport to perceive some kind of imbalance is at play.

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The reason why such situations are unbalanced is that a person must have some kind of direct contact with reality to exercise common sense and moral judgments. When technology comes in between people and the things around them, very important nuances and details are lost. Technology mediates reality forcing the person to rely upon a second hand experience to make important judgments that affect relationships and society.

Thus, while a text message may get an idea across to another person, it omits an enormous amount of information. By its short and quick nature of the medium, it is hard to transmit personal moods, emotions and dispositions. It is easy to omit or ignore them. A thought is thus reduced to the bare and brutal minimum. To the extent that people rely only on technology, they tend to reduce reality to abstractions, which are the means by which technology can be expressed.

Sociologist Richard Stivers, in his book, Shades of Loneliness: Pathologies of a RTO-Audiobook-AD-medium-resTechnological Society, describes well what happens. He writes that “reality is sensuous, symbolic, and utterly ambiguous. To interpret reality I must bypass technology with a personal knowledge of history, culture, and other people. To the extent that I rely on technology, I reduce history, culture, and other people to local categories and statistics.”