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Our Lost Generation
Technology is a vast world of definitions.
It can be defined as the rebirth, the blessing in disguise, the path towards a better future.
But technology is a double-edged sword.
What we see—or, really, what we choose not to see—is what leads to our ignorance. We see the research that saves lives, the families reconnected after years lost in the sea of time.
And surely it is a beautiful thing, this triumphant jubilation that brings tears to every watching eye.
But for every tear of joy cried when that final chemotherapy test comes clean, a thousand people across the world experience a different kind of emotion that triggers tears just as steady. The dark side of technology: the side that leaves family dinner tables empty and therapy sessions full.
The addictive dopamine: like a drug, technology forces your brain to always need more, sustaining you with fleeting pleasures that only leave you gasping for more air.
You can fight the urge as much as you want. But once you give in, you are chained to your defeat by your own will that now works against your better self.
How does it fight the battle with such subtlety and still always win the war?
Because from the beginning, technology knew you; all your strengths and all your weaknesses.
Every video, photo, and article you see on your home page is made for you-your interests, your mental tendencies, and your personal attractions.
It becomes apparent more often than you think. When you open your primary Safari tab and every article looks appeasing, when you finish a YouTube video and a new one pops up that seems so interesting you must press play, or even when you are rattling off a text message and the keyboard shortcut displays its anticipation of your next word with surprising accuracy.
Technology predicts your next move before you even think about making it. It watches your eye movement, noticing how you land on certain articles more often than you do others. It tracks your watch time on YouTube and caters to your interests so every time, you view every clip to the end. It reads through your texting groups, memorizing the words you tend to use most often and preparing them for your next round of chat threads.
Technology was made to attract. The founders of our internet’s biggest platforms such as Google, Facebook, and YouTube created their billion-dollar businesses to entice viewers of all ages, interests, and ideologies. They created it innocently, in hopes of making the future brighter for all. They created it so that research could be completed, so that loved ones could still see each other from miles away.
They couldn’t see the hurt it would cause our future generations.
When you watch the racehorses on television, you see them become completely dependent on their riders. Bound by their blinders, they become devoid of all distractions and lose their sense of the outside world. The moment you swipe up to unlock your iPhone, you become like those racehorses; absorbed in the small screen before you, losing your bearings to your unknown controller.
Technology has become a master in disguise. Years of training, research, and watching has made the robotic beings behind your screen alarmingly successful at their job. Once your blinders are put into place, you cannot escape. Your eyes have only one pathway of light to follow; your brain becomes a one-minded automaton. And until you have run the race—their race, not yours—to its full extent, you are held tight in their grasp.
In the end, it all adds up.
That one hateful comment left in the feed of your latest Instagram post, the heartbreaking moment when a clip of your friends—all together, without you—flashes on someone’s Snapchat story.
Whatever the reason, it leaves you feeling confused, devastated, and alone.
And the cycle is never-ending. A vicious cycle it is, but a never-ending one nonetheless.
Family meals are spent in silence, faces hidden by the screen that enslaves its viewers and whips them until their bent and bruised bodies are forced into submission. The past habit of enjoying the rich savor in every bite is lost to the temporary contentment of a plethora of 4 minute YouTube videos.
Bookshelves grow dusty while touch screens gather more fingerprints. The fantastical problems that can only be found in the pages of a novel are left behind while real-world issues cartwheel into first place. The art of wasting a rainy afternoon away with a thick classic has been pushed aside as Netflix & Chill enters the mind of so many young Americans.
But perhaps the worst effect that has stemmed from such a large tree takes place in your very own brain. Depression has increased substantially since cell phones and advanced social media sites have surfaced. From 2010 to 2015, depressive symptoms in adolescents increased by 33%. During the same time frame, the suicide rate in girls increased by 65%.
And every day, it gets worse.
We cannot afford to live in ignorance any longer. We cannot allow ourselves to be caught up in the new technologies that have already taken so many innocent lives.
Silence has lasted long enough.
Now we must speak.