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'Til death do us part

SELFRIDGE AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Mich. -- Is your hyper-connected life taking you where you want to go? Have you  even given thought to the positive and negative consequences of the leaping advancement in technology?  Surely these are questions you should be asking yourself.

It is amazing how someone can find a long-lost friend through a social networking site, enabling them to reconnect. In a society where people have become quite mobile, where family and friends are often geographically separated, it is convenient to keep in touch through technology.

Technology alters social behaviors, however.

Take a moment to ask yourself: when you go out with a group of friends or even on a date, do you find yourself fiddling or browsing on your phone due to the dullness of the conversation or the lack of interest?  I sure do, and I have heard people refer to this as the security blanket approach. The security blanket approach can be defined as an individual using a source of technology to protect themselves from being interactive with another person or to simply occupy themselves in a situation that is not very interesting. There are many times I find myself going to dinner with friends or my significant other and as soon as there is a moment of silence or the conversation seems boring we instantly result to Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter to fulfill that sense or boredom and/or lack of interest.  So being bored or uninterested during a conversation could be considered the norm; however when we place our personal information on these media sites are they safe?

The internet is not always completely safe when you think about Cookies, Phishing, Trojan and Spyware. Think about when you browse the internet and get the red, green and black screen "UNATHORIZED SITE."

If you read Google's privacy policy carefully, it is clear that they retain the right to make significant decisions about our data without regard for our interests. With the new movement to store everything on the cloud, who knows if a single hacker would be able to take down entire chunks of the internet. Similarly, as more and more people store personal information on the internet, how will we ensure that information is kept secure?

As our economy becomes more dependent on bits than on atoms, how will we protect these resources from being damaged or devalued by hackers? As the barriers to information come down, so do our protection from negative and predatory influences.

We don't have to look very far for evidence of this happening. Think back on the Office of Personnel Management being hacked -- now that cloud is raining on somebody. We are only beginning to  really acknowledge the way technology has evolved over the years and how much it has both helped and hurt us. Using the term "hurt" to describe the negative impact of technology may be a bit much, but I think it sums it up rather well.

Do you remember how we used paper to communicate before technology? We placed our thoughts on a piece of paper, edited those thoughts with an eraser and passed them on to a receiver. Then we waited for a response. Paper has never had to be replaced every few years; paper didn't crash when you put too much on it and there are never stressful, time-wasting updates to paper. Some of the most dreadful unintended consequences of technology are those whose dangers we've overlooked or downplayed.

Pesticides, antibiotics, flame retardants, asbestos, food additives, plastic bags, lead in toys - the list goes on, from the moderately harmful (refined sugar) to the potentially apocalyptic (nuclear power). There are countless consumer products in widespread use that have undergone little to no health and safety testing, including 80,000 chemicals the health effects of which have never been tested, but are - incredibly - presumed safe until proven harmful.

You'd be forgiven for assuming that our regulatory scheme is grounded in the precautionary principle (unauthorized for widespread use until proven safe), but you'd be sadly mistaken.

Look at cell phones and Wi-Fi, universally adopted despite the fact that 75 percent of non-industry-sponsored studies have found that cell phones damage our DNA and that brain cancer in children has increased 1 percent a year for the past 20 years. On top of this, we bombard ourselves 24/7 with the radiation emitted from wireless networks and cell phone towers with nary a study of health effects. With cancer latency periods of up to 30 years, it will be another 20 years before we know the full extent of the harm. In the meantime, we're all subjects of the biggest radiation exposure experiment in history. But all is not lost; we're not the first folks to be experimented on in the name of science. Science has given us the capability to communicate across oceans instantly.

Through email, instant messaging, Skype, social media, etc., technology has enabled us to strengthen relationships by keeping in contact with old friends, colleagues, and co-workers. What would we do if we could not find old friends from high school through Facebook? Technology has even provided opportunities for students all over the world to receive an education online, while still maintaining work schedules and family. Students are now able to take webinar courses and attain their degree online just as any student on campus. Isn't that awesome! Modern technologies can very well be a double-edged sword, from safety to connectedness.  Technology has its advantages, but as with many revolutionary inventions, they can radically change our lives, for better or worse.

Sources:
www.humankinetics.com/...an-have-positive-and negative-impact-on-social-interactions - 152k - Cached - Similar pages, September 19, 2014.

Mydailyalerts.com/positive-negative-effects-technology-lives - 114k - Cached - Similar pages, January 23, 2012.

www.buzzle.com/articles/positive-effects-of-technology-onsociety.html -28k - Cached - Similar pages, January 26, 2014.