I fear the day technology will surpass our human interaction. The world will have a generation of idiots.
The above phrase is attributed to 20th century physicist Albert Einstein, who in the 1940s was worried about the power of technology and its impact on future generations.
The attribution is however deemed incorrect by the scholarly world because of a lack of credible documentation and proof. On the contrary, they claim, he actually regarded technology positively during WWII.
Still, Einstein was worried about the effects of science and technology on humanity, and said the following in a letter to a friend in 1948:
I believe that the abominable deterioration of ethical standards stems primarily from the mechanization and depersonalization of our lives–a disastrous by-product of science and technology.GoodReads
Have these thoughts come to pass?
Whether Einstein alluded to a generation of idiots, or not, is not the issue anymore, since our reckless indulgence in technology has proved ‘him’ right!
And just as well, we have coerced children to join our indulgence, and not surprisingly, they are happy to tag along!
Without a doubt, most of us, including our children, have been transformed into a generation of idiots!
What is an idiot anyway?
According to Wikipedia, the word idiot has undergone a rebirth of meanings over the years.
In the beginning, an idiot was defined as
a person with a very profound intellectual disability
a person with a profound mental retardation
Today, an idiot is
a stupid or foolish person
From the first to the last definition, an idiot refers to a person lacking in intellectual abilities and is foolish!
The abusive element therein is clear. But again, why not? Are we not foolish to allow mechanization to run our lives this far?
Below are likely scenarios that make us a generation of idiots!
1. We have become anti-social
Oh, yea! So very much so. Statistics show most of us check our smartphones 80 to 300 times a day, leaving us with brief breaks of 12 to 60 minute.
Our interaction with electronic contraptions surpasses the interaction we have with fellow humans.
We look at, talk to, and listen to our smartphones, tablets, smart speakers, and other Internet of Things (IoT) gadgets for longer durations than fellow humans.
We tweet, share, and snap away far more frequently than we accomplish anything productive in real life. This happens at home and in the workplace.
At the end of the day, we are incomplete and unworthy unless we are liked and loved through social media, and better off talking to smartphones via voice assistants like Siri, Google Assistant, and Alexa.
When we are back home, we spend the remaining hours of the day glued to the TV, and AGAIN, smartphone screens like we don’t have anything else to do in our lives!
There is always a plastic atmosphere at home, as our fingers are swiping away while the speakers take care of the apparent silence.
The question is, are we remorseful about this? Do we feel like we need to unplug? Even worse, do we even feel like a generation of idiots?
2. A generation of ill health
Besides bingeing on social media, we shop from the comfort of our chairs and seek online dates without having to move a limb. We multitask technology with food and everything else, something which is bad for our health!
The unmetered consumption of social media requires us to bend over and crouch on our beds and chairs all day, giving meaning to the phrase, tech-neck.
We never reflect on the consequences of tech-neck and other ill health arising from inaction. This has led to increasing cases of obesity, bad posture, muscular weaknesses, stiffening of bones, heart complications, etc.
Immobility also leads to eating disorders. We have developed a preference for fast foods and soft drinks, which are high in additives, fats, and salt.
Besides, we are a danger to ourselves when we drive and walk while chatting with and talking endlessly to our smartphones. While at it, we are also endangering the lives of innocent bystanders and other drivers!
Let us not forget the threat posed by electromagnetic fields emitted by our countless gadgets in our possession and in the house.
The smartphone, for one, is known to emit constant doses of EMF radiation. This can lead to glioma and other complications.
3. We post irrationally
Before the internet and social media became the norm, humanity had time to digest and reflect on information before it was made public.
The print media boasted of professional editors to minimize errors and eventual blushes, and everyone cared about what people read and reacted to.
It is a different story today. Everyone owns online accounts and has the freedom to post, share and make mistakes on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, TikTok, and blogs!
We have been tricked into posting and sharing information without much thought.
Coupled with the need to stay ahead of the pack, we share and facilitate leakage of private, offensive, and embarrassing texts and images. At the end of the day, the information is available for all to see.
4. We love ‘bad’ robots
As much as robotics provides us with productive toys and industrial tools for mechanization, some inventions are derailing us from what is truly human.
A case in point is the sex robot. The male and female versions of these humanoids should never find their way into our bedrooms – really!
The more we embrace and integrate them into our lives, the more we are killing the very nature of human existence, and most definitely turning us into idiots!
5. We have a low attention span
Our readiness to attend to mental tasks that last for long durations has received a beating, because we can only concentrate at for only a few minutes! We have so much information than any other age in history, but less time to discover this depth.
Anything that takes more than a minute of our time is bad. Still, we have all the time in the world to participate in social media interactions and other activities that appeal to audio-visual senses.
We are therefore unable to read and write and opt instead to skim through;
- the first few paragraphs
- the excerpts
- highlighted texts and links
The short forms of text and audio-visual clips on micro-blogging platforms such as Twitter and Facebook appeal to our senses more. They have taught us to write and read small. The flashy images and audiovisual content are meant to quench our curiosity.
Reading through novels and scholarly works has become a chore! Little wonder, the lengthy novels and scholarly materials will probably become a thing of the past a few decades from now. Perhaps writers too, should evolve in order to remain relevant and appeal to our evolving senses.
In addition, we have embraced multitasking as the answer to accomplishing assignments and other obligations at work, school, and home. We engage in social media chats, even as we are busy with academic research.
Now that employers are hiring work-at-home employees, the trend has gotten harder to control.
Generation Alpha kids and others are learning our habits early on. They too will grow into the next generation of multitasking zombies, all probably seeking virtual employment.
The way forward for the generation of idiots
If you have read this article this far, congratulations. You are probably not from this planet and the generation of idiots. This means you still love reading and probably do other things that good people do.
Your only challenge probably revolves around reflecting on the existence of this problem and making sure children use technology the right way.
Yes, technology is here to stay, and unless our planet is hit by a gigantic solar flare some time to come, the status quo will remain.