Let’s talk about technology health risks. Are the electronic devices we use every day, such as smartphones, making us ill? Whenever humanity goes through a transition in the way that it lives, there are usually health consequences.
History, transition, and health
Take farming, for instance. When the first humans settled and grew crops, the variation and richness of the diet declined. They got shorter and fatter, and their teeth started deteriorating in their mouths. Some populations developed hellish malnutrition diseases, like rickets and beriberi if they didn’t eat enough variety.
In the 19th century, sanitation and flushing toilets changed the game again. Suddenly, people lived longer because they weren’t dying of avoidable, infectious diseases, such as cholera.
Today, we’re going through a technological revolution of similar magnitude. However, this time it involves something that very few people associate with health: our electronic devices.
Technology health risks: Phone neck
Take “phone neck,” for instance. We’ve all seen people standing at the bus station, hunched over their phone, browsing social media. It looks kind of funny until you consider what it’s doing to their necks.
The same thing is happening with laptops too. People are sitting at crazy angles that damage their bodies.
There are solutions like the adjustable laptop stand for the latter issue. But it looks like we’re stuck with phone neck for the time being. Perhaps when smart glasses go mainstream, it’ll cease being such a significant problem.
Depression and electronic devices
We’re now more than 25 years into the age of the internet. While it seemed like the wild west of technology in the early days, it’s becoming increasingly oppressive and dystopian. That’s leading to technology health risks.
Take workplace tracking, for instance. In the 1980s, tagging employees to see what they were doing around the office would have been seen as extreme. Today, though, companies are doing that and even keeping tabs on what workers are doing when they get home.
Then there’s the pursuit of time and optimization. Our devices implicitly assume that time is money and that the two are fundamentally interchangeable.
This knowledge is filling us with dread that we’re not going to be able to get everything done in the day. That feeling pushes up our cortisol levels and leaving us exhausted.
A rise in mental illness can have huge effects on the global economy if there is not a collective response to the issue. There are the direct costs, such as medicine, and the indirect costs, such as a decline of workplace productivity.
Humanity is now going through a health crisis of epic proportions. It is perhaps as huge as any of the past.
Given technology health risks, we need a new approach
For these reasons and many more, a new approach to health is necessary. At the moment, we’re living in a world where people are scared to leave their homes without their mobile phones, and longing for them to be by their side every hour of the day.
We need to break free of the physical and emotional dependency that we have on these devices if they’re ever going to become our tools and not our masters. We’re allowing companies to drip-feed us tidbits and rewards (such as “likes” and “shares”) in exchange for our privacy and mental stability.
We need some digital detox as a civilization to give ourselves time to reconnect with our fundamental nature. That is something that has nothing to do with digital devices.