This was an essay for a scholarship I wrote in May. Enjoy!
In the wakes of the pandemic, our dependence on technology has become more pronounced than ever. College classes have all moved online; grade schools are following suit, though the change is not so foreign for them. Most families in my county have more technology in the house than people, and the expectation placed by the school system for this to be the case for all is damaging yet understandable. The increase in our online usage and our coexistence with our devices speaks volumes to their influence over us. The power of technology transcends human limits; two decades ago, it would be unfathomable what kind of power the devices of the future would hold. The Internet revealed to us the best and worst parts of humanity. It expanded the job fields and revolutionized our values, potential, and lifestyles. Technology allows us to destroy the environment most effectively, and it helps scientists create new devices such as machine learning to counteract it. Most notably, digital devices have reshaped the minds of our youth and created a learning environment of anxiety, stress, and hedonistic obsessions.
Most people are privy to the criticisms of technology, whether it pertains to the exploitation of underprivileged people used to make the products or the oversaturated, hedonistic nature of its content. What I find most interesting is how it has both helped and damaged my educational experience. The expansive net of the Internet cast a wide reach of information at such a high speed that an entire research project in my time could be completed sooner than the research process alone of my parent’s era. This luxury provides us with answers to tests and quizzes, and my peers can easily exchange correct information; for many, it is the highlight of online learning. On the other hand, teachers anticipate our behavior and subsequently increase the volume and the complexity of our assignments, ensuring that finding direct answers online is a treasured rarity. The demand from our teachers often outweighs our capacity, and almost every assignment requires the use of a device with access to the Internet. Pressures build in every student spanning across the world. Both our work and leisure time occur in the same sphere. The fact that I type this on my laptop now while fretting between tabs of other scholarships in between glancing at every new notification on my phone illustrates my point perfectly. Our brains are always exposed to content, always on and unhinged, constantly distracted, bouncing from productive to stupid things, never allowing ourselves to detach, observe the quiet, and listen to our minds. This has negatively impacted the mental health of me and many of my peers. We are riddled with stress and anxiety, placed upon us by high expectations, increasing pressures, and unrealistic ideals pushed by social media.
Our lives are a glorious mess of innovation and confused human emotion, present at school and at home. Technology introduces a complex facet that humanity must navigate through blindly and cautiously.