Thoughts on “the addiction” – aspects of the technology addiction

Here’s a thought I had:

In a previous article I wrote of my early experiences with computers (Some thoughts on my early experience with computers).  Basically, in 1979 or 1980 I got my own personal computer.  You could play computer games on it as well as other things.  Eventually, I began to program things on it, including computer games.  Some of this included simple computer animation.  As far as I know, I may of been the only 13-14 year old who was programming on my own personal computer, including games and computer animation, in the Salt Lake City valley around 1979-1982.  Because of this, I was exposed to this stuff earlier than most people.  One of the things that most impressed itself on me was peoples reactions to it.  This is something I will never forget . . .

“THE ADDICTION”

Looking back on it now, I’d say that what I saw was something like an addiction take place.  Because of this, I call it “the addiction”.  This refers to the addiction to the computer that has taken place since the early 1980’s.  I sat and watched a whole society get addicted to it, dominated by it, and enslaved by it, all before my very eyes.  It was like watching people get addicted to crack or cocaine.  I’ve often compared it to alcoholism.  I watched people give up their lives to it, letting it dominate and determine everything they did.  It seemed to take over society like a disease.  As part of this, I saw many mental problems and issues it caused.  I’ve been talking about these problems since the 1980’s.  If you mentioned it back then people would just give you a blank look, as the computer, and its effects, were so new that no one could relate to it.  I recall people chuckling if I mentioned it in the 1990’s (that’s when the Technology Cult became strong – see below).  Recently, I’ve been speaking about it more often but, still, no one seems to care all that much.  I do think that there is a growing awareness of the problems it causes with a small segment of the population.

Because of what I’ve seen through the years I tend to believe that many of the problems that we have today, of people and society, have been caused by “the addiction”.  This seems to be particularly so in this century.  But very few people seem to “make the connection”.  I don’t know . . . maybe I’m wrong, but I don’t think so.

I should point out that ,despite what people think, I was never much impressed with the computer.  To me, its just another “gadget” to add to the collection.  This gave me something like an impartial attitude toward it.  In other words, I never “gawked” over the computer and amazed myself with it.  This attitude, plus my early exposure to the computer, seemed to put me in a position to take something like a neutral stance toward it from where I could watch people react to it.  From this disconnected and detached position, I watched the addiction grow through the years.

THE PHASES OF “THE ADDICTION”

When I look back on it seems, to me, that there are three phases in the development of “the addiction”:

  1. The initial addiction – 1980’s
  2. Technology cult – 1990’s
  3. Technology youth – 2000’s

1 – The initial addiction – 1980’s

This is the period of time when people got “hooked”. During this phase, people first became exposed to the computer and felt its lure.  You must remember that this was something totally new, that had never been seen before.  I can remember the wide-eyed expression some people would have when they saw it, particularly for the first time.  I always felt that most people were attracted not by any of its functions, graphics, features, and such but primarily by the fact that they have some form of control over the images on the screen.  This is what amazed and marveled most people.  They could care less if it could perform the function of a calculator, or store information, and such.  All that mattered is that an image on the screen changed whenever they touched a key (and, later, a joystick).  In this way, it created a whole new way of participating with the world.  I would later call this world the “screen world” (see below).

Initially, only a small number of people got “hooked”.  These, it seems to me, were primarily young adolescent, or pre-adolescent, boys (which were about my age at the time).  There were some people in there twenties, and a few in their thirties, I think, but I don’t recall a person older than 40 that seemed to get “hooked”.  To me, this may be significant as that means that the people who got “hooked” were born about 1940 or later.  What’s significant about this?  These were the people that were brought up with the high consumerism following WWII and, most significantly, they were brought up with the TV as children.  I’ve always thought that being brought up with the TV, as children, predisposed people to “the addiction”.  When you’re brought up with the TV, and spend hours watching it, you tend to “identify yourself with whats on the screen”, identifying and relating to specific characters, situations, and people on the screen.  But you are still passive to it, you observe it . . . you are not participating.  With the computer you now have control over what’s on the screen, you now actively participate, you’re no longer a passive observer.  In this way, the computer is the “next step”, so to speak, after the TV, a further intensification of its effects.  As a result, the people brought up with the TV, as children, tend to fall easily to “the addiction”.  That’s what it seems like to me, anyways.

I should point out that the computer had existed before the 1980’s.  But this was a different situation.  The people who created them, and used them, were using them for practical reasons, for things like industry and business.  Because of this, there never seems to of been any form of “the addiction” before the 1980’s, at least as near as I can tell.  But, in the early 1980’s they began to expand their programming beyond industry and business into a new field:  computer games.  This offered something new to the consumer and it is in the consumer that the reaction happened.  The main consumer – young boys – went crazy over it.  In other words, as it appears to me, what started it all off was young boys reaction to the computer game.

By the mid 1980’s, though, there developed more than computer games.  There developed different forms of applications involving computers, some for military, industry, business or having practical value.  In short, it had gone beyond computer games but, despite this, much of the mania over the computer game would spill over onto these new computer applications.  I recall that, by the mid 1980’s the attitude toward anything involving the computer resembled the attitude of computer games some years before.  In fact, it seems to me, that all these electronic gadgets and gizmo’s were primarily viewed as if were like a computer game.  In other words, it seems that many people saw computer applications as something akin to a “toy” to play with, so to speak.  I still feel this “toy-like” attitude is still prevalent with technology today.  In fact, I feel that many technological inventions, gadgets, gizmo’s, “app’s”, etc. are more motivated by this “toy-like” attitude than by practical real-world reality.  I can recall mentioning this fact to people, that the people who were inventing and working on this stuff were motivated more by immature child-like motives than by real world mature motives.  I mentioned that I was worried about what world they would end up creating. Interestingly, I heard other people express this point some time later!

Also, by the mid 1980’s we start to see some beginning signs of mental and growth problems.  Many boys life revolved around computers and its effects were becoming apparent.  They seemed to become socially awkward and disconnected from life.  They also had weird ideas about things.  It is through them that I began to see that “abstract disconnected thinking” that I associate with people who spend too much time on computers, things like:

  • Weird disconnected views on life and the meaning of life.  These were often purely “cranial” perspectives, based on a rigid logic, that lacked any sort of “heart”, practicality, or base in reality.
  • Weird disconnected ways of “making us happy”.  Some of their ideas of what will make us happy was bizarre and, often ridiculous.
  • They interpreted things in a weird way.  I recall them talking about things and we’d all give them a “what?” look.  They would see things that aren’t there, look at things from a narrow perspective, give a weird perspective on things, etc.

The effect of this, if I recall right, is that it would alienate them from other people.  Some people would even make fun of them.  As a result, they tended to only associate with people like themselves which, it seems to me, only worsen their condition.  It wasn’t uncommon that they developed a particular “look”.  I’m not sure how to describe it though.  This was so distinctive that many were often called “nerds” by many people.  Personally, I think those were the more extreme noticeable types.

Many had traits of what is often called Asperger’s Syndrome.  I personally think that the problem of Asperger’s Syndrome, in these past 40 years, actually is generally referring to this problem.  In other words, its not Asperger’s Syndrome at all, but something else, a symptom of “the addiction”.   We’re just confusing it with Asperger’s Syndrome.  Some of the problems of this condition include:

  • Problems concentrating.  Often, they over-concentrate on something and can’t get their mind off of it.  Other times, they can’t concentrate on things and bounce from this to that.
  • They become preoccupied or obsessed with things.  Sometimes, they cannot get their minds off of things such as a specific subject.
  • They seem to live in an “abstract world” removed from the real world.  They can have difficulty understanding the logic of the real world.
  • They are often very “excitable” and hyperactive.  Sometimes, they can’t control themselves.
  • They have a hard time calming down when excited.  

Some of these symptoms resemble what they now call Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder or ADHD.  In my opinion, the so-called ADHD, that we’ve been seeing lately, is really a symptom of “the addiction”. 

What all this suggests is that many “mental problems” are just being considered “mental problems” when, in reality, they are symptoms of “the addiction”.  I tend to feel that this is very prevalent.  In short, we are misunderstanding the effects of “the addiction”.  One of the reasons, I feel, is that we are assuming that everything with the computer is “automatically good” . . . isn’t technology supposed to “advanced”? Then how can it have a bad side?  Well, in my opinion, it does have a bad side.  We just aren’t willing to look at it.

It seems that in the initial addiction phase “the addiction” seemed to center on younger boys or young adult males and started with games and then would later expand to “playing around on the computer” as the decade went on.  In this way, it tended to have a more child-like and toy-like quality to it.

2 – Technology Cult – 1990’s

This is when technology began to be viewed as something like a god.  This mentality became particularly prevalent in the late 1990’s I remember.  The coming of the internet has a lot to do with its rise, I believe.  To be frank, in the late 1990’s I actually thought there was actually going to appear some form of a technology religion, though I did not know how it would appear.  The worship of technology was so prevalent that I still make jokes about “sacrificing goats to the computer god” to this day.

There were many ways the technology cult appeared.  Here are a few:

  • Technology as a god.  Here technology is something to be worshipped.  We should all sit down and bow down to it.  People sat and marveled at it as if it were a divine entity.
  • Technology as something all-powerful.  Here they saw technology as if it had this “innate power” and could do anything.  They seemed to think it would answer all the problems of life and the world.
  • Technology as savior.  Here technology is viewed as something that was going to save us, to end all suffering, and make us happy.
  • Technology as something that we need to submit our lives to.  Some people preached that we need to all submit to technology and give up our lives to it.  I often had arguments with people because I would not do this, or would criticize technology.  I’d often be treated as if I were a traitor.  Its like they were saying “you’re either with us or against us”.

During this time, most of the people tended to be older (20’s, 30’s, and 40’s).  I don’t recall seeing any rise of any new “mental problems”.  I think that a lot of the technology cult was more by a more mature crowd looking at the new technological “gadgets” that have come out and becoming overly impressed with them.  In fact, it seems that it was during this time that a new mentality started to appear:  of being too easily impressed and too impressionable to the point of taking it too seriously.  Basically, they’d flash a person something with computer graphics on it, for example, and they’d immediately be in awe and say, “wow, that’s amazing!”, and act as if they just saw the face of god.  In short, all this fancy computer stuff tended to dazzle people.  I called it “technological dazzlement”.  If I remember correctly, it was with “technological dazzlement” that I first began to compare technology to a drug.  I used to joke about “getting high off technology”.  People would surround themselves with technology just for that purpose:  to get a “high”.  That’s sounds funny but that’s exactly what it looked like to me.  People could care less what it did, just as long as it had “neat graphics” or something that impressed them.  It was  bizarre watching this.  It was even more bizarre watching the power this thing had on people.  For some people it began to dominate their lives.  It became the center of their lives.  All their hopes and dreams were centered upon it.  I tend to believe that, for some people, it was a religion.

People were taking it far too seriously.  Like I said above, I was in quite a few arguments because I criticized technology and its control.   Many times I remarked that many of these arguments sounded like political or religious arguments and got into as much deep feelings.  That’s how serious it was taken.  My reaction is just as it is today:  “my God, its just a machine!”

There were some people who took it so seriously that they started to view it “tribally”.  What I mean by this is that a person was viewed as being in the “technology tribe” or not.  If you were part of the “technology tribe” then you were “advanced”, superior, better, happier, etc. than everyone else.  If you weren’t part of the “technology tribe” then you were a traitor, backward, a subhuman, or stupid.  That is, you deserved contempt.  In this way, a person is as if “measured” by their agreeing with technology.  I will never forget the incidence when I applied for a drafting job in about 1993.  They took me to where they did the drafting.  There were all these young kids there.  One of the girls there asked me, “what type of computer do you have?”  I said, “I don’t have a computer.”  She replied, “I judge a person by the computer they use”.  Do you see?  A person is now being measured by the technology they use . . . its not the person that matters.  Basically, technology is now viewed as being more important than the person!  So we see that, with the technology cult, there is a degradation of the person . . . the human being takes second place.  Its really no surprise that it was during this time that, at least it seemed to me, there became a devaluation of things people did, such as arts and crafts.  I can recall people talking about it, how no one did that stuff any more, particularly the young people.  I can even recall people speaking of things like calligraphy and drawing as “being in the dark ages” because you could do them on the computer now.  With this, we see a mentality where if a person does not use technology then they are “living in the stone age”.  I used to joke, “oh my god, can you believe I’m so primitive . . . I’m using a pencil” and such.

One of the effects of the worship of technology is that it eroded peoples common sense and practical thought.  People became one-sided (it only about technology), bigoted (its our way or no way), judgmental (if you don’t use technology then your backward), saw only one way to do things (with technology), and such.  In short, the technology cult mentality caused a narrowing of people.  In a way, people became “smaller”.

In some ways, in the Technology Cult phase “the addiction” expanded to a broader segment of the population, to a more mature and older part of the population.  This brought a whole new quality to “the addiction”.  It tended to have a more serious quality about it and making it appear more legitimate.

3 – Technology Youth – 2000’s

I named the Technology Youth from the Hitler Youth as they are very similar in its origin and cause.  I started to notice the similarity when I began to use similar expressions for the younger generation that the older Germans used toward the Hitler Youth.  For example, I’d say “they have the light of the faith in technology in their eyes” (I’ve heard Germans say, “they have the light of the faith of Fuhrer in their eyes”), and such.  In many ways, technology became the new Fuhrer.

Some of the qualities that are seen with this mentality are:

  • They preached a specific point of view (the Technology Cult).
  • They viewed that they are supported by a social power.
  • They feel a unity as a group.
  • They associated themselves with the “leader” (technology) and followed it, often mindlessly and slavishly.
  • They developed an arrogance.

The Technology Youth is greatly influenced by the end of the Cold War in about 1990.  After the Cold War ended there became a more concerted effort to try to mold the kids a certain way.  Typically, they were molded into the American ideal, of Mr. Success in its various guises (jobs, education, sports, activities, etc.).  As a result, the society, as a whole (this includes the schools, the parents, expectations, etc.), began to mold kids into this American ideal form.  I jokingly speak of this as the “Post Cold War Victory Youth”. These are the kids that are molded to fit American ideals for the greater glory of America! 

I started to notice this effect right after the Cold War ended, in the early 1990’s.  I initially noticed how kids were now “forced” to go to college (which was very common) or having to succeed at something.  I could see that most kids did not want to do it.  Usually, their parents “forced” them to do it.  It became apparent that, by the mid 1990’s, I was looking at a generation that was now “forced” to do things.  This appalled me, as it still does today . . . this mentality is still running strong.  The effect of this is that the kids were no longer really “free”, able to do what they want.  This was not the case in my generation, as we were not “forced” to go to college, achieve, etc. . . . nobody told us we had to achieve or succeed.  Nowadays, the kids are controlled, dictated, and told what to do.  Slowly, this mentality grew and grew and grew and is now a dominating quality in the kids of this century.  This mentality makes it similar to the Hitler Youth, many of who were also “forced” to go into it, give allegiance to Hitler, and so on.  In other words, its the imposing of a society onto the youth.  Some of the effects of the Post Cold War Victory Youth, that would also be seen in the Hitler Youth, include:

  • Society directed specific teachings to them.   Of course, for the Post Cold War Victory Youth it is the American ideals of success.  With the Nazi’s it would be Nazi ideals.  In both cases, the society directed these teachings toward the kids, almost as if cramming it down their throats. 
  • Nationalism-based motives.  In the U.S. they were “forced” to emulate American ideals for the glorification of America after the Cold War, almost as a demonstration of America’s victory.  In a sense, the kids became the “show ponies” of the country and their success proved the greatness of America.  The Hitler Youth, of course, was almost all nationalism-based, for the greater glory of the German people.
  • A sense of unity.  The effects of the above is that it did create a sense of unity in the youth, that they were a “unique generation” set apart from the other generations.  This tended to create a sense of superiority and arrogance.  This was seen in both the Technology Youth and Hitler Youth.

I should point out that the Post Cold War Victory Youth was a mentality created by the end of the cold war.  It developed independently of the Technology Cult.  By the late 1990’s it was highly developed.  About 2000, or so, it would become merged with the Technology Cult creating the Technology Youth.  So we see that the Technology Youth was a union between the Post Cold War Victory Youth and Technology Cult about 2000 or so.  The effect of this is that it created a merging or blend of “the addiction” with many different qualities such as technology, national pride, and the youth as a whole.  In this way, “the addiction” has now expanded far beyond the computer games of the 1980’s.  With the Technology Youth it has now permeated the society.

One of the reasons for the blending seems to be the association of technology with national pride, of the “greatness of America”.  Technology became a symbol of American greatness.  This is very much associated with the Cold War as this was, in some ways, a war of technology with the Soviet Union.  Its really no surprise that, after the Cold War there became a glorification of technology, particularly with the “digital revolution” in the 1990’s.  The “digital revolution” as if gave a reason for the U.S. to glorify itself.  In some ways, it caused a mania of self-glorification that continues to this day.  This made it so that “the addiction” is now associated with national pride.  In other words, to truly be American, you must be “addicted” to technology.

Two things appeared that intensified it and made “the addiction” more of a social issue:

  1. Social Media
  2. Cell Phone

With these two things social relations, and communication between people, would be “infected” with “the addiction”.  In some sense, social media and the cell phone caused “the addiction” to spread into the deepest parts of the society, affecting it in ways nothing else could do.  In that way, they were the most damaging.

In addition, in the 1990’s technology became associated with the economy.  It started an economic boom, basically. As a result, technology became equated with social status, money, and power.  This, of course, only boosted national pride and the “greatness of America”.

So we see that, during the Technology Youth era, “the addiction” became associated with these different things:

  • Technology
  • National pride and ideals
  • Economy (social status, money, and power)
  • Social associations

Basically, much of the attitude of “the addiction” spread to these other areas as well, altering there attitudes and qualities.

As part of the association of the youth with national ideals, technology, and the economy we see some issues created:

  • The youth and national ideals:   the “show pony”.  During the Technology Youth era they youth were now linked with nationalism and national pride on a scale we’ve never seen before.  This has put a great burden on the youth.  Basically, the youth of the Technology Youth era have become nothing but “show ponies” to the country, expected to display the greatness of American ideals. They are now “forced” to have to emulate these ideals, having to go to college, excel at sports, get a high paying job, etc.  This is crammed down their throats as I have observed so many times.
  • The youth and technology:  the degraded human being.  Oftentimes, the younger generation are called Millennials.  For many of us, this is actually a derogatory expression.  Why is this?  Because a Millennial is someone who has given up their life to technology, they have relinquished control of their life to a machine, they have allowed a machine to run and dictate their life.  This means that they are something like a degraded human being, or half a person, subhuman, or something similar.  Therefore, to call someone a Millennial is like saying they are a degraded human being . . . its a great insult.  This shows a basic fact, that the merging of the youth with technology has created a new condition with the Technology Youth, of a degraded human being, whose life is dictated and run by technology.
  • The youth and economy:  being Mr. Success.  The society demanded much of the youth to be successful and to achieve.  As I, myself, have observed, this has been very extensive, perhaps even to the point of being abusive.  One of the effects of this is that the Technology Youth often has a dog-eat-dog attitude, of a horrible rat race quality about them, each competing to win.  Another effect of this is that it has caused an incredible stress for many kids.  Some kids are expected to win, to succeed, and to accomplish.
  • The youth and social relations:  shallow human relationships.  The social media and cell phone became so powerful that they “got in the middle” of human relationships, disrupting it.  Now, the emphasis is on the machine you use to associate with people, not the relationship itself.  In other words, “the addiction”, particularly through social media and the cell phone, robbed the youth of human-to-human relationships. They no longer associate with people but with a machine.  The effect of this is a deterioration of relationships, becoming more shallow over time.

I tend to feel that these things have caused a great and serious conflict in the younger generation.  I feel that that it is far more serious than people realize.  In a way, these past generations have become so degraded that their problems aren’t even being recognized!  But no one seems to see or acknowledge it, though, because its associated too much with national pride, technology, and economic success, which everyone views as good qualities.  How can national ideals, national pride, technology, and economic success cause bad things?  Well, I believe it does.  At least, that’s what it looks like to me.

To me, all this has given the Technology Youth the appearance of a “drone”.  This is why I often call the younger generations the “drone generation” (see my article “Thoughts on the post cold war generations – some observations . . .“).  The term “drone” tends to reflect some basic characteristics of the Technology Youth:

  • They are people that are controlled, told what to do, and are, in a sense, slaves.
  • They have no real control over their lives and are not allowed to be “themselves”.
  • They blindly follow, doing whatever they are told to do.
  • Their whole value as a person depends on their association with the system and how well they follow it. 
  • They look at life simply and in a shallow way.
  • They tend to hide behind the “pageantry” of the system and modern technological society.

If I’m not mistaken that’s similar to what the Hitler Youth tried to do, showing their similarity.  In both cases, the youth were turned into robots of society.

After the Technology Youth?

I am getting this impression that the Technology Youth may be waning.  This, it seems to me, may be because we are so far from the end of the Cold War that the Post Cold War Victory Youth mentality is losing its strength.  Its still there but it doesn’t seem as strong.  It may be too early to say but it seems I see a “splitting” taken place.  Basically, during the Technology Youth era everything as if blended together into one homogeneous whole.  Now, that whole seems to be splitting apart into its different constituent parts.  In other words, I seem to be seeing these things:

  • Going back to the Initial Addiction.  This seems to be seen with younger males and boys and girls.
  • Going back to the  Technology Cult.  This seems to be seen in older more mature people, both male and female.
  • Going back to the Post Cold War Victory Youth.  This is more emphasis on national pride than on technology.  This seems to be popular with females.  Its more social bent, I believe, tends to appeal to females much like how they follow social fads and trends.
  • Maintaining the Technology Youth.  This seems to be prevalent in the generations brought up during this era, both male and female.  I often think it continues more because everything is now geared to this point of view.  Once something new appears it will probably disappear quickly.

If this is the case, then the whole movement is actually fragmenting after the Technology Youth.  In other words, the Technology Youth is the pinnacle of this movement.

EFFECTS OF “THE ADDICTION”

“The addiction” caused a number of effects, such as:

Living in the “screen world”

The “screen world” is a term that I use that refers to when people live through the screen.  All their hopes, dreams, and life is lived through and in the screen.

What is significant about this is that a person has control of what is in the screen.  This is what, I thought, was so new about this.  In the TV one sits passively and watches.  With the computer one has active control for what’s in the screen.  As a result, the screen takes on a quality of a separate “world” which people live in.  I always felt that this is its “hook”.  It creates something like an alternate reality.

Some effects of the “screen world” include:

  • The “spectral gaze”.  This is a particular look some people have.  To me, it looks as if people are staring out into space at something that isn’t there.  This, I believe, is the screen and what I’m seeing is their habitual “look” at that screen.  Since they are still displaying this look when not looking at the screen it usually is a sign of an “addict”.
  • The “monotone voice”.  Many people will develop a monotone voice as they speak, with little undulations and little emotion, if any.  I always thought this originated from the fact that their “life” is in the screen and that’s where its lived.  As a result, everything else is viewed as “back burner” or insignificant.  Therefore, when they speak they do not put the passion or focus on it, that people normally do, which makes it monotone.
  • A detachment from world.  They seem disconnected from the world, distracted, and are often “not all there”.  Sometimes, they act like the world is an annoyance.
  • They are awkward in world.  They seem to have problems associating with people and in various aspects and conditions in life.  Since their life is lived in the screen the “real world” is not viewed as that important.  I see this often in younger males.  It almost seems unreal to me, people viewing the real world as not important.
  • An inability of self-control.  Because they live in the “screen world” they don’t learn the normal “real world” conditions that prompt self-control.  Because of this, they often do outburst of emotions, for example.  Another odd quality this creates is a weird inability to control their volume of their voice.
  • A tendency to be mania or being hyper.  In the “screen world” there are no “checks” to control their patience and self-control.  Instead, the computer generally tends to cater to a “continual stimulation”.  Because of this, they develop a habit of being “continually stimulated” which appears as a tendency to be mania or being hyper.
  • A tendency to be overly focused.  Working on a computer causes a person to be focused . . . ones mind and body focuses on the screen.  A person can be so focused that they will not even blink!  This causes a tendency to be overly focused in everything, which can make people take things too seriously.
  • A tendency to be focused on ones self, often being oblivious to others.  The “screen world” is a private world if the individual, typically.  As a result, when it becomes dominant people tend to focus on themselves alone, as if they are the only people in the world.
  • Growth problems.  Since the “screen world” is not the real world, they are not growing in the normal human way.  The result of this, is problems in growing as a person.

Spending too much on the computer, and living in the “screen world”, can cause these qualities (as I remarked above, some of these qualities resembles symptoms of “mental problems” such as Asperger’s Syndrome and ADHD).  In some cases, these are minor qualities in a persons life.  But if it is extensive enough they will become general attitudes a person will develop that will manifest itself in their everyday life away from the computer. In that way, a “screen world character” is developed.  In my opinion, this is something like a character disorder . . . that is to say, a mental illness.

The Effect on Children’s Play

I should also point out something I noticed in the 1980’s and 1990’s.  During this time I wanted to be a Psychoanalyst.  I seriously considered being a Child Analyst as I loved children and loved to watch them play.  As a result, I often played with them.  I noticed a dramatic change in their play from the 1980’s to the 1990’s which alarmed me quite a bit.  Basically, in the 1980’s children’s play entailed a lot of imagination and play acting.  There was a lot of symbolic representations and meanings.  The kids also played a lot, building stuff, using objects for things, and so on.  Basically, they acted like kids.  All that seemed to decline and, in some kids, disappeared completely the 1990’s.  In the 1990’s the kids play lacked imagination, had little play acting, little or no symbolic representations, and they didn’t play a lot.  Many kids acted more like adults than kids.  Some kids even needed some form of a “machine” or technology in order to play!  Its like they didn’t know what to do without it.  I still like to play with kids and I’d say that kids haven’t really improved that much since the 1990’s.  I’d say that there is a small segment of the children who are starting to be more like kids, though.  I tended to feel that there are a number of reasons why this happened:

  • The effects of “the addiction”.  The prevalence of technology, primarily in the form of toys and games, tended to cause them to usurp or take over play.  As a result, many kids were deprived of the beneficial and growth qualities of play.
  • The Post Cold War Victory Youth.  The mentality this caused put great pressure on kids, primarily by their parents and society.  This often caused them to act more like adults and see themselves “having to be a certain way” (acting more like an adult) and “having to do certain things” (such as education or seeking some success).  As a result, many kids lives have been devoted to doing just that.  In some respects, many children lost their youth trying to fulfill the American Ideal after the Cold War ended.
  • Over-education.  Particularly after the Cold War ended (1990) there has been an over emphasis schooling and education.  Kids have had to cram their heads with all sorts of useless and meaningless information, and over a long period of time.  Not only has this caused a “mental confusion” but it has deprived kids of play time.

What we see, then, is that a number of causes that caused a deterioration in children’s play in the past 30 years or so.  This fact, accordingly, has caused a deterioration in the beneficial effects of play.  In my opinion, the loss of play, and its beneficial effects, has had dramatic negative impact on the younger generation.

The Loss of the “Self” or “Person”

The computer tends to cause a sense of a loss of self.  A person gets so engrossed in the screen that it dominates and, in a sense, becomes their world.  As this happens they lose a sense of “selfness”.

The male 

The males tend to suffer from a degraded self as a result of “the addiction”.  In some sense, technology ends up “robbing their self”, replacing them, often making them worthless and redundant.

In short, many males see technology as an extension of themselves, particularly if they really “get into it”.  Technology then “becomes them” and they now look to it for their self.  In other words, they no longer look to themselves . . . they are as if “waiting on technology” to make them someone.  They as if wait for some new invention, gadget, program, or machine to appear and then see this as “personal improvement” by agreeing  with it and using it.  In this way, many males rely on improvements in technology as a means to “grow as a person”.  Because of this, they do not do anything for themselves nor try to grow on their own.

The effect of all this is that many males are “hanging on as a person”.  In general, it causes the male to become what I call “stagnant”.  Its almost like they have stopped in life.  They seem to be as if staring into space (as if looking at the screen???) not knowing what to do.  They have no initiative.  They have no originality.  They have no individuality.  I think this is a serious problem.

The female 

The females generally turn into a “puppet” as a result of “the addiction”.  They basically become mindless slaves to social media, social trend, social ideals, etc.  To be honest, this has become so bad that I have begun to associate the word “female” with “slave” or “puppet”.

It seems, to me, that females weren’t really all that addicted until the social media and cell phone.  This means that the female was not suffering its effects all that much until this century.  It seems, to me, that the effect of social media and the cell phone seems to of been more powerful, overall, than its had with the male.  It hit the female like a storm and now dominates many of their lives.  In my opinion, the social media and cell phone have turned females into a “puppet”. The social media and cell phone “pulls the strings” of their lives.  In this way, the “puppet” relinquishes their life, and their self, to society.  Because of this, the females are not “tending to” their self.  This has caused many problems for females and I consider it a serious problem.  At this time, I consider the female to be in a worse position than the male.

Interestingly, the “puppet” is very illusionary.  Because the “puppet” lets social media, social trend, social ideals, etc. “pull the strings” they are doing what society “expects”.  This gives the illusion that female “puppets” are “stable” or “doing what’s right”.  In actuality, they are just “blindly agreeing”, letting society “pull their strings” and doing whatever it says to do.  Many females will kill themselves to do what society says, regardless of what it says.  But, in actuality, the “puppet” only hides their degraded self by blindly agreeing with everything.  

The confusion of self

In both cases, what we are really seeing is a confusion of self’s.  Basically, the male has confused his self with technology.  For the female, they have confused their self with society, primarily as a result of social media and the cell phone.  Its like they have lost sight of their own self.  They are looking at something that is not their self to be their self.  Its sort of like looking at a character in a movie to be who you are.

To put it another way, the males is trying to live through technology and the female is trying to live through the social media and cell phone.  They are trying to make it their “life”.  The problem is that they are a very inadequate and an insufficient way to live life.  In my opinion, to try to live through technology, social media, and the cell phone is like trying to force yourself through a 1″ PVC pipe.

Two Degree’s of Problems – The Vicious Circle

It seems that there are often two degree’s of problems:

  • First degree – This is the initial problems created by “the addiction”.
  • Second degree – This comes from an awareness of the initial problems.  They then think the solution is to intensify technology in their lives as a solution.  In short, they think the cause of the problem will solve the problem.  It creates a vicious circle that aggravates the problem and never solves the problem.  This seems to be a common mentality during the Technology Cult era.

Once the vicious circle is started its like they can’t get out of it.  Its very possible that this may be one of the causes of the “stagnant” male . . . they’re stagnant because they are caught in a circle.  I would think that one of the ways to get out of this vicious circle is to put them in a position where they cannot use the electrical gadgets and gizmo’s and have to rely on themselves.

The expansion of “the addiction”

As stated above “the addiction” of the computer and technology slowly spread to other areas so that it permeated society.  It went into things like national ideals, social status, economic success, etc.  Some of the qualities that the “the addiction” created as it spread into these other areas include:

  • A tendency to only focus on a single thing
  • A tendency to mania
  • A mindlessness
  • A slavishness
  • A lack of humanity
  • A self-centered orientation

These “addiction” qualities, which started with the computer, would be as if transferred to these other areas.  They, then, would take on similar qualities.  In some respects, the overall effect of all the qualities of “the addiction” has given society a unique rat race quality, of a very strong impersonal inhuman quality, of a bunch of people scrambling for something while unable to turn away from their screens, completely dependent on technology to tell them what to do, unable to fully think for themselves but thinking they can.  Its a rat race of desperation, dependency, and self-delusion.  Its quite weird to me.

The Demands of an “addicted” Society:  Stress, Abuse, and Neglect

The Technology Youth, especially, has much placed on their shoulders, whether they want it or not.  The effect is an incredible stress that is almost unreal, at least in some of the examples I’ve seen.  Many kids have more burden put on them then they should have, and this comes from things such as:

  • Their parents
  • Society
  • School
  • Peers
  • Social ideals

The competitive rat-race environment of some of the Technology Youth causes a lot of stress in kids.  In a way, America has become “addicted” to success and is killing itself, and its youth, as a result.  In my opinion, this often reaches the point of abuse.  In other words, I tend to feel that American society has become abusive to some of the youth. Its putting too much on their shoulders, and often at a young age.  It controls them.  It doesn’t allow them to be themselves.  Some of the effects this stress causes include:

  • An inner turmoil and conflict
  • Despair
  • Blindly obeying and agreeing
  • Living in an “escape world”, such as computer games
  • Apathy, turning inward

As part of this “addiction” the kids are only taught ideals associated with the Technology Youth.  They are not taught things like a morality, values, belief, and so on.  All these things seem conspicuously absent.  For many parents, all they want for their kids is for them to go to college and get a high status, high paying job . . . and that’s it.  There is a complete absence of treating them as people, as human beings.  In this way, “the addiction” has created a condition of great and gross neglect of the youth, of neglect of them as people and human beings.  More than once have I said that the youth are treated more like robots than human beings.

What has always bothered me is the absence of rebellion in the youth.  I’ve often wondered where it was.  It seems that my generation would of rebelled against this type of treatment.  But, yet, these later generations just sit there, and take it, and say and do nothing.  To be frank, I’ve lost some respect for the youth for that very reason.  But, perhaps it shows just how strong this “addiction” is, that no one can fight it?


Copyright by Mike Michelsen

This entry was posted in Children and play, Historical stuff, Modern life and society, Psychology and psychoanalysis, Science and technology, The effects of WWII, the Nazi's, the Holocaust, the Cold War, and the Vietnam War era protests, The U.S. and American society, Twenty first century and post cold war society and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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