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#9 Side Effects of Becoming a Global Society

About this issue:

Does technology make us feel closer, or too close?

The side effects of becoming a global society.

In 2014, after college I got off social media because I became an Active Duty Army Officer and was convinced it would be highly inappropriate and unprofessional to be posting and sharing online in any compacity. I maintained a Facebook for family stuff but that’s it. Fast-forward six years, I’m getting out of the Army, moving to LA, and pursuing acting. Casting Directors, acting coaches, and various industry professionals kept telling me I needed to be on Instagram. Now I know “need” is a strong word that should be taken with a grain of salt, but I caved. I joined Instagram (again) in 2020. I didn’t just deactivate my previous account, I completely deleted it, so I was starting fresh.

Instagram had changed a lot since I was last on the app. People looked more touched up, brands were using it to market, politicians were using it to inform constituents. Instagram was not the same photo-sharing app I remembered from 2014. When we posted close-up pictures of our eyeballs for no reason, and always looked like we just rolled out of bed, and when no one was trying to portray a “lifestyle” or be an “influencer”. The app had turned into this place that no longer let me see my friends but now only fed me junkets of information about products and people I should care about based on some magic algorithm. In short, when I rejoined Instagram, my world shrunk.

Yes I am still on it, and yes I have set activity restrictions/limitations on my phone. But my world really felt like it got smaller. If I was seeing news, it was only news that I agreed with. If I was seeing clothing, it was only styles I already wear. If I was seeing people, it was people that I didn’t know but for some reason kinda wanted to know. Cringe!

So, does technology make us feel closer or too close? Obviously, Instagram isn’t the only technology that is geared towards enhancing connection, so this question is broad. Yeah, I believe in some ways, videos and blogs and online shopping and podcasts make life convenient. Whether trying to learn a new skill or find the perfect pair of shoes or dig deep on some self-recovery journey – technology makes it convenient and somewhat easy. But I do believe that it provides a false sense of connection.

A good friend of mine once told me that nowadays we feel and/or internalize world disasters much differently than humans of the past did. Just 15 years ago, you wouldn’t immediately know that there was a forest fire in Los Angeles, CA if you lived in London. But now you do. Heightened sense of awareness has in some ways distorted our sense of what actually effects us and to what degree should it disable our mental stability. I cried when Russia attacked Ukraine, I felt that grief in my gut. It put me out of my wits for days, as if it were happening right next door. Not saying that’s bad, but is it too much? Are we becoming over-stimulated by global events rather than being able to focus on our local communities?

This issue is all about technology’s effect on us (minus dating apps because that’d be an entire book). I hope you find something stimulating. Thanks for reading.

I asked seven friends this question:

"In your opinion, what are the negative and positive side effects of becoming a global society through the medium of technology?"

Read what they had to say:

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The Youth Mental Health Project is a grassroots nonprofit organization whose mission is to educate, empower, and support families and communities to better understand and care for the mental health of our youth. We envision a world made up of informed families and caring communities that realize and strengthen the mental health of our youth -- a world where people are just as aware of their mental health as their physical health, where families are validated and able to readily access the care they need.

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