“We are now all connected by the internet, like neurons in a giant brain” – Stephen Hawking
These days, we live plugged-in lives. Most of us are connected everywhere that we go, in ways never before possible. The benefits that this provides are clear, but there still remains a moral panic concerning the ways that digital culture impacts our actual lives.
Take me, for example. I am part of the iGeneration, living in a highly populated area, and I rely on my networked home for just about everything that I do. Every day, the first thing I do is clear my notifications, reply to messages, and spend at least 15 minutes scrolling through various social media channels. Most days, I use the internet to complete my university work, accessing the online learning platform to view my tasks, textbooks and lectures. Often, I stream music while I work, and will have the odd social media scroll between answering questions. After my university work is completed, I might reply to emails, online shop, check my bank using a smartphone app, stream TV shows, FaceTime my partner, upload new content to the social media pages I run, or take phone calls/answer queries from my workplace. And, after an exhausting day of being an active digital citizen, I usually ‘un-plug’, place my device on the other side of the bed, roll over, and go to sleep, with my robot.
So, I am constantly connected. But is this a good thing?
Some would say I have an addiction (as I quite literally spend most of my day using the internet). But, I am not actually dependent on the internet to survive. I am quite capable of going without my phone, or an internet connection. Rather, as Zaryn Dentzel puts it, “ours is a networked, globalised society connected by new technologies.” And, as a consequence, my life is highly digitalised, and the way that I complete many of my tasks is through some online interface.
Ultimately, it is clear that our internet access is rising – especially among younger generations. And our purposes for using the internet are becoming increasingly versatile (ABS 2012-13). As a result, we are currently undergoing a paradigm shift. A shift that is felt especially by the industries of which it is leaving redundant. Thus, a digital divide has arisen, and the debate continues about the rate at which our connectivity is causing our separation (both socioculturally, and introspectively), and if the internet is doing more harm than good.
Are our networked lives leading us to our own demise? Comment below.