Technological advancement in last two decades was just incomparable rapid. From Nokia 3310 to iPhone 7, from huge stationary computers to transformer gadgets with ability to reach out to anyone in the world in almost any particular minute. Internet had become an integral part of our lives, a necessity to keep up with fast flowing, changing and sharing information. There never was a time when access to information was so easy. Google had become an encyclopaedia of everything, Facebook a holly house of socializing and YouTube the floor of entertainment. Even though this ability of efficient information exchange should make our life’s easier there is a dark side of it.
Liberalization of markets and private sector after cold-war had become world’s dominant political and economical structure. Competition of private companies became a dominant agenda regarding economic growth, market hegemony had reduced the state border meaning, commodities became main assets of states value. To cope with growing demand of goods and services and to sustain and increase globalization efficiency technological development was more than necessary. However, technological advancement like neoliberalism itself is mostly targeting on individual liberties development and are endorsing individual’s independence. As good as it sounds, common values of community are rapidly decreasing, huge amount of information which are provided from different sources are causing the never-ending stream of comfortable and growing epidemic of mental illness and loneliness.
According NHS metal health survey 235, 189 people aged 18 and under are receiving specialized care. ( Campbell Marsh 2016) What does that mean? And whom is to blame? George Monbiot in he’s The Guardian article is expressing strong correlation between ideology and technology advancement:
“There are plenty of secondary reasons for this distress, but it seems to me that the underlying cause is everywhere the same: human beings, the ultra-social mammals, whose brains are wired to respond to other people, are being peeled apart. Economic and technological change play a major role, but so does ideology. Though our wellbeing is inextricably linked to the lives of others, everywhere we are told that we will prosper through competitive self-interest and extreme individualism.” (Monbiot 2016)
Social media like Facebook and Instagram had become our mirror of self-identity and reflection of our personality. The new normative of success are being drawn by pictures and amount of popularity you are able to achieve via your individual effort. This reflection of happiness and success is putting a lot of pressure on young people to be socially acceptable via individual normative shaped by definition of happiness, defined by power of purchasing and consumerism. But how technology is intervening and playing its role?
Facebook had recently adopted algorithmic solutions to help user rate the trustworthiness of content. ( Selinger Frishchmann 2016) However instead of helping for user to identify the content itself by promoting critical thinking and media literacy, which means that site effectively be training users to outsource their judgment to computerised alternative. (selinger Frishchmann 2016) This way discouraging user from any intellectual capabilities of critical evaluation is forcing the masses to accept what is given and what neoliberal agenda is all about “there is no alternative”.
Growing technological capabilities to influence society has been a big part of neoliberal agenda. Even though, most of the technologies we can use today seems as a great innovation for quick and efficient communication and information sharing, however influential discourses and patterns used within that information can be very harmful for society and individual. Creating own little world for every person by feeding what he allegedly likes and needs is just a way of distraction from real problems, with horrible consequences.
By Aurimas Mieliauskas
- Denis Campbell, Sarah Marsh (2016). [online] Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/society/2016/oct/03/quarter-of-a-million-children-receiving-mental-health-care-in-england [Accessed 3 Oct. 2016].
- George Monbiot (2016). [online] Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/oct/12/neoliberalism-creating-loneliness-wrenching-society-apart [Accessed 12 Oct. 2016].
- Evan Sellinger, Brett Frischmann (2016). [online] Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/society/2016/oct/03/quarter-of-a-million-children-receiving-mental-health-care-in-england [Accessed 3 Oct. 2016].