Technology & Social Isolation and Neurosis


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Technology & Social Isolation and Neurosis

  1. 1. G Stephen McGrath 200216498 Social Impact of Technology Emily Brett April 10, 2014
  2. 2. What Is Social Isolation? • A state in which a person, group, or culture loses or does not maintain communication or contact with one another. • Social isolation is often involuntary, and can lead to feelings of loneliness, depression, and distrust of others. • While physical presence is a large factor of social isolation, it is not necessarily mandatory; those suffering may feel a personal disconnect even in the presence of others.
  3. 3. • “An emotional illness in which a person experiences strong feelings of fear or worry” (Neurosis) • While neurosis is considered a relatively mild mental disorder, especially when compared to conditions like psychosis, it has the potential to cause a large amount of distress in those afflicted. • The persistent anxiety associated with neurosis may lead to feelings of depression if not treated. What is Neurosis?
  4. 4. While there are certainly far too many different technologies that have at least some measurable impact on individuals in a social manner to list, there are a few that are influential enough to focus upon. These technologies include: • The internet, particularly web-based social media; • Interactive media such as video games; • Mobile phones, especially with the introduction of the smartphone. Technologies that Affect Social Conventions
  5. 5. The basic idea behind social media is simple: An easy-access network that makes interaction with friends, family, and associates a fast and convenient ordeal. This is an interesting example of one technology remedying an issue created by another. With the transportation boom came the geographical rift that occurs when family and friends decide to branch away from each other. This divide sparked the need for convenient interaction, and in that regard social media certainly fits the bill. Websites like Facebook now take up a tremendous amount of our time spent online, and have a far-reaching influence over our day-to-day lives. In total, Facebook users spend 640,000,000 minutes on the site every month. Nearly 50% of its key demographic check Facebook as soon as they get up in the morning. ("Facebook statistics," 2014) Obviously, with such integration into our lives, whatever impact that social media has on us, positive or negative, will have a massively substantial effect. The Social Media Juggernaut
  6. 6. Benefits Damages • Over half of the participants in one study admitted that Facebook worsened their body image issues. (Walton, 2012) This increased concern regarding the perception of their bodies and self-worth can lead to a cycle of neurotic thinking. • Children who engage heavily in social media are more likely to develop antisocial personality disorder, a large indicator of future isolation issues. (Miller) • Virtual interaction often replaces face- to-face interaction, stunting the development of social skills, especially in children. • Allows users to stay in contact with each other despite physical distance or barriers. • Allows the sharing of life events through text, photos, and videos. • Some individuals receive a confidence boost as a result of using social media. While many people focus on the negatives when observing themselves in the mirror or photographs, friends and contacts are much more likely to point out the positives of posted photos, which can lead to self- assuredness (Shackford, 2011) Social Media Pros and Cons
  7. 7. The ‘UsVersusThem’ Mentality A study by the University of Stalford involving the affect of social media on self-esteem and anxiety was conducted in 2012.When students from the university were asked if the use of networks like Facebook andTwitter made their lives worse, 50% of nearly 300 students felt that they did. Upon further investigation, it seems that this anxiety often came as a result of comparing themselves to their online friends. (Soltero) While feelings of inadequacy are certainly a negative result, there may still be an upside to consider. Jim Rohn, a famous American entrepreneur, famously said that “you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with”. While this quote isn’t meant to be taken literally, it demonstrates that being the most successful person you know isn’t necessarily a good thing, as witnessing the success of others can motivate one to do better. Being more aware of the accomplishments of friends may inspire one to pursue more accomplishments of their own.
  8. 8. Video games have garnered a significant amount of negative attention from the media in recent years. From violence, to sexual content, to issues with addiction, it seems that games are developing a rather dark reputation. It is the capability to draw users into playing for hours at a time that raises a red flag about video games in regards to social isolation. As this interactive medium becomes evermore popular, our society, the youth in particular, spend more and more time secluded indoors in lieu of spending time with others. As video games have many addictive properties, those that play them may unintentionally segregate themselves from social situations to spend more time playing. Between turning down invitations to interact to being less likely to be take the initiative to ask others to do the same, it is unsurprising that many gamers find themselves in a state of isolation before realizing it. Due to the fact that isolation is cyclical (isolation leads to depression, which in turn causes an individual to feel uncomfortable interacting with others, which exacerbates the isolation, ad infinitum) it can be very difficult to correct once it has taken hold. Additionally, pathological gaming has other adverse effects. It has been found that excessive levels of gaming can lead to depression, anxiety, social phobias, and diminished school performance. (Vitelli, 2013) The Grasp of Interactive Media
  9. 9. It is clear that playing video games can lead to social isolation if not controlled. But is this a big deal? Surely an individual can set limits for themselves, and balance out the amount of time they spend playing.This may not be so, as recent studies have found many indicators of genuine addiction indicators while researching video games. • Clinics for video game addiction have begun to surface internationally in response to the rising occurrence of game dependency. (Vitelli, 2013) • It has been found that the brain activity of a gaming addict with an urge to play video games is very similar to that of a substance addict’s craving. Both obsessions share the same neurobiological mechanisms, which indicates the seriousness associated with game addiction. ("Videogame craving may," 2008) Video Game Addiction
  10. 10. Some game companies employ workers, often with a background in psychology, in positions such as ‘Behavioral Game Design Specialists’, whose purpose is to intentionally make video games more addicting for players. John Hopson, a former employee of Microsoft, was one such employee and came up with the idea for unlockable achievements, which keep gamers playing longer by enticing them with the possibility of raising their virtual point total, or “gamerscore”. With subscription- based games and the implementation of downloadable content (game add-ons that are released for purchase after a game’s initial release), there is a lot of monetary incentive to keep players hooked. Nefarious Design
  11. 11. The cellphone is a piece of technology that allows us to stay connected with just about anybody – as long as we aren’t actually with them in person, it seems. Our ever increasing fascination with smartphones has led to problems with face-to-face interactions by way of neglecting those around us to constantly check our homescreen for notifications. This common act demonstrates a shift in priorities that we’re facing as a culture; we often choose to put the real world on hold to give us time to interact with our handheld devices. This is a disturbing trend that only seems to be getting worse as smartphones become more comprehensive, adding new applications and widgets that demand and hold our attention. Combine this with the fact that phones also allow instant access to our favorite social media sites, and it’s easy to see how the problems that come from social media now extend further than the dim glow of our computer monitors. Cellular Communication
  12. 12. Time Magazine conducted an online poll of 5000 smartphone users spanning the globe, and the results clearly show that we are becoming dependant on our phones to an alarming level.The statistics show that: • 25% of those polled check their phones at least once every 30 minutes; • 20% of those polled check their phones at least once every 10 minutes; • 1/3 admitted to feeling anxious and uncomfortable if away from their phone for even a short period of time; • 2/3 actually confessed that they would rather have access to their phone instead of having lunch if forced to choose. • 75% of those polled between the ages of 25 – 29 admitted to sleeping with their phones on a nightly basis. (Gibbs, 2012) Smartphone Dependence
  13. 13. While the internet, social media, and mobile phones were all designed with interpersonal purposes in mind, it’s clear that in many cases they have had the exact opposite effect. It is true that communication and connectivity have been simpler and more convenient, but that has come at the cost, at least partially, of more engaging, face-to-face interactions.This is a good example of technology being accepted despite it not necessarily falling successfully into its intended niche or completely solving the issue it was designed to iron out. The Irony of It All
  14. 14. Technology has an immense impact on isolation and neurosis. It is not as simple as being objectively good or bad exclusively, however, as there are both pros and cons associated with the way these technologies affect us. On the positive side, much of today’s technology is focused on keeping us connected with each other quickly and conveniently. For those who are geographically secluded, whether for work, school, or personal reasons, technology may be the only viable way to stay in contact with friends and loved ones. In these cases, technology could potentially be a factor in preventing the feeling of loneliness and isolation. That being said, there is, oddly enough, a case to be made for the harm that the very same technology is doing regarding the very same issues. Individuals that are unable to regulate their reliance on phones and social media networks find themselves feeling isolated, with the only form of personal contact taking place through a monitor.Video games can exacerbate this problem, attracting players and getting them hooked to the point of avoided others. Finally, it has also been shown that the constant exposure to the lives of others, and having our own lives exposed, may lead to neurotic thinking and behaviour.This stems from the feeling of always being on display for judgement or from comparing ourselves to others. Conclusion
  15. 15. • Facebook statistics. (2014, January 01). Retrieved from • Gibbs, N. (2012, August 16). Your life is fully mobile. Retrieved from • Miller, M. (n.d.). Technology obsession creates isolation from society. Retrieved from • Shackford, S. (2011, March 01). Our facebook walls boost self-esteem, study finds. Retrieved from study • Soltero, A. J. (n.d.). The relationship between social media and self-worth. Retrieved from • Walton, A. G. (2012, April 05). The true costs of facebook addiction: Low self-esteem and poor body image . Retrieved from costs-of-facebook-addiction-low-self-esteem-and-poor-body-image/ • Videogame craving may rev up brain's addiction circuits. (2008, November 11). Retrieved from • Vitelli, R. (2013, August 19). Are video games addictive?. Retrieved from References