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Modern Technology and Media Influence on Human Beings

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Dear Dr. Wayland, (maybe?? change to blame personal faults – e.g. quietness, antisocialism – on modern tech/media) although I was so extremely looking forward to writing and handing in my speech (as I’m sure most of you all were too), due to my computer crashing and consequently all progress I had made being erased, as well as a broken printer and questionable Wi-Fi connections, I regret to inform you that I was unfortunately not able to complete my speech on modern media that I had so greatly anticipated since the commencement of this term.

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Blaming a late homework submission on the faults of modern technology can be quite convenient when it is in an ever-changing state with capabilities and knowledge rapidly expanding by the second. Its foreign and unpredictable nature make it a simple and believable target for us to dump our own mistakes and laziness on, and much like this, society has continued to blame modern media for many issues which have arisen due to the society itself.

By definition, modern media is…, and may take place through the form of the Internet, television, movies, computers or the radio. It is not uncommon for us to access these said medias, and witness the heavy barrage of articles, posts and video clips commenting on how we as a society have allowed ourselves to become more rude (ignorant), lazy or anti-social under the influence of modern media.

But is modern media really to blame? To answer that, we must first ask: Why do we blame modern media?

As humans, we naturally resist change. So it is easy to see how as a new technology becomes widely adopted, and people start to see new types of behavior, the technology is immediately held responsible. Let’s not forget that this resist to change has also been a recurring trend throughout human history, and can be observed both during the birth of literacy itself, as well as the introduction of school education.

Socrates famously warns against the practice of writing during early 4th century Greece as it will, in his words, “create forgetfulness in the learners’ souls, because they will not use their memories.”, and also advises that children can’t distinguish fantasy from reality, so parents should only allow them to hear wholesome allegories and not “improper” tales, lest their development go astray.

Much later, in the 19th century, literacy becomes essential and schools are widely introduced. To no surprise, many turn against education for being unnatural and a risk to mental health, and an 1883 article in the weekly medical journal the Sanitarian argues that schools “exhaust the children’s brains and nervous systems with complex and multiple studies, and ruin their bodies by protracted imprisonment.” Meanwhile, the excessive study is considered a leading cause of madness by the medical community of the time.

We see that before the existence of modern technology, the notions of literature and education, both foreign in their time, were surrounded by controversy, and often blamed for changes in human behavior which would have otherwise remained unexplained.

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