Technology in our minds

No doubt everyone knows Facebook and Instagram were down January 27th. Both sites have become staples of people’s, and especially students’, lives. Are these online and phone applications taking over our lives? How about our mental health? We have both covered, right?

Let’s start with physical health. So, we have a lot of fitness gadgets: watches that measure our heartbeats and display incoming texts (Garmin Vivosmart Activity Tracker); and cups that identify our drinks and measure our calorie intake (Vessyl). Our heart could never be more protected! Sadly, there is one minor detail that we have forgotten: human obsession. In particular, let’s focus on Twitter and video games. It may not come as a surprise that it is easy to tweet angry comments condemning a football team or cursing school days. According to a study by the University of Pennsylvania (journal of Psychological Science), a person’s behavior on Twitter can predict coronary heart-disease more accurately than “smoking, diabetes, income and education — combined.” There is another, much more extreme case: on January 8th, a 32-year-old man died of heart failure by playing video games nonstop at an internet cafe. So much for our physical health.

On that happy note, let’s turn to mental health. Watching the news closely, people might have heard of the controversy caused by a photo of Miss Lebanon and Miss Israel. Yes, this is over a photo. And why shouldn’t it be? Lebanon and Israel are enemies! Wait! Aren’t we putting too much importance on this photo? Nope. The two nations are enemies. Any candid photos of the two must, of course, be burned. The photos are posted on the internet and cannot be burned? Nonsense. Let’s get into a heated debate over this fact from opposite sides of the room.

Speaking of heated debates, there is one going on over the nature of parasocial interactions — one sided relationships with the images of typically famous people. While parasocial interactions could be formed with a spectacular friend who is only interacted with through a social media site, more often it addresses the instances when people stalk celebrities and become overly interested in their entertainment personas. It can be argued that this relationship is just a natural tendency to admire those we see as superiors or a detrimental inclination to idolize. Either way, can we say that our mental health has escaped unscathed from the influence of technology?

Moderation. Toleration. Neither of these can be bought. However, we have come close to manufacturing the illusions of both. Applications can certainly be created that force moderation, ones that limit that time we spend online (StayFocused). Perhaps, we can be taught what is unnatural to us. Most of us have managed to learn how to behave according to society’s rules. We have the ability to learn from our surroundings even though it goes against our natures. We can learn how to live a healthy life.