Technology will surpass human interaction

Has it ever happened to you: trying to reach your friend’s attention while he was glued to his electronic device? Yes, it happens to me all the time – at the university, at home, on the streets or even in the bar. Technology is slowly, but firmly taking over our social lives. We became so addicted to our devices that we barely see that the real-time human interaction is fading away.

AbhaAbha Dawesar stated in a Ted Talk video, that even during the Sandy Hurricane, when lots of problems occurred, people would have been more interested in finding a plug point for their phones rather than in getting food and water. “Even in the rain, people stood between Madison and 5th Avenue under their umbrellas charging their cell phones from outlets on the street”.

People use their technology everywhere. They don’t only use their devices to stay connected in the spare time, but also during serious work meetings, classes or presentations. It became a disease to text everywhere you are, even when having a breakfast with your family or while you are out with your friends.  A recent research showed that on average, teens send around 3,339 text messages a month. More than that, every single message is read.

Students-worldwide-addicted-to-media

Should this come as a cry for help?

Internet and technology is taking us to places where we don’t always want to be at. We live in a digital world, where everything is connected. We shop online, we socialize online, we do business online and we even make friends online. The amount of time spent on Internet has risen significantly in the past years, a fact that wasn’t overlooked by marketers. Kevin Kelly points out that there are around 100 billion clicks on Internet per day, while 2 million e-mails are being sent every single second.

These facts make us targets of advertising campaigns, which tend to distract us from what we initially intended to do. As an example, remember those similar products you are advised to purchase by any e-shop. Or, let’s say you are watching an interview and, all of a sudden, you are recommended to buy the book of the author, watch similar videos or get in touch with people who are watching the same video. Therefore, the time spent surfing on the web will not be 10 minutes, but definitely much more. Thus, we get absorbed by the multitude of choice online and we forget about how interesting the real world can be.

Human interaction lost its value due to the amount of time spent on Internet. Nowadays, most of the people would rather text than talk. We are too busy to build a natural human relationship. We sacrifice conversation and replace it with connection. Even e-stores are offering an alternative way of real time shopping. Asos, the online clothing retailer, has recently introduced the online personal shopping assistant. You can notice this tendency of communicating less with people and more with devices.

We feel more comfortable having a virtual discussion partner, since we can control what we say and how we do it. This is reflected in many interviews conducted by Sherry Turkle, in which people confessed that they would prefer having a more developed version of Siri (iPhone’s digital assistant) as their best friend, since it is “the one who listens when others don’t”.

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Source: http://scaredpoet.com/?tag=addiction

Nowadays, digital marketing is very powerful. Marketers are so psychologically dominant, that they don’t only change our decisions, but they change also who we are. Being ourselves and making our own choices is not only important for the present generations, but also for the growing ones. People that would live all their time in a digital world would forget about reality, about time flow. It is because time doesn’t flow in the digital world the same as it does in real world. We can’t distinguish past from present, and present from future. The online world is not the present, is it always a few seconds ahead of us.

Although digital marketing brought us so many possibilities and advantages, it also took our precious time- the time to communicate in real world, to discover ourselves. We replace human interaction with up-to-date devices, afraid of being alone. All these apps, social media and advertising campaigns give us this illusion of not being alone. Online connection is not a solution; it is rather a symptom than a cure to our problems. Digital world should become a tool to develop our communication skills and our possibilities rather than a threat to our personality. I am afraid that one day, digital marketing and technology will surpass human interaction.

Any personal information can become sensitive information

One day a stranger will be able to read your e-mail, look through your messages and the Web sites you’ve visited without having your permission. So, should you worry about your privacy and its importance?

Together with the development of technologies and markets, the concern of consumers’ privacy has risen (H. Liu, 2000). The Internet has become an integral part of our daily activities and a crucial player in the economy. The use of Internet became beneficial to marketers in analysing customer’s profiles, due to their electronic footprints left on every digital transaction:

  • Biometrics (fingerprints, facial recognition and voice)
  • Browser History (websites visited, calls and text messages sent or received)
  • Financial Information (Includes credit cards and transaction data)
  • Location (records of past and current location)
  • Personal files (photos, videos)

Hidden Information

Source: http://global.samsungtomorrow.com/?p=25932

Government organizations and marketers collect the necessary data about our activities via our smartphones (K. B. Sheehan, 2002). The Government is a two-side player. On one hand, it is trying to protect people’s privacy, but on the other hand, they seek to observe and control their personal lives. The GPS technology allows organizations to locate and notice our daily behaviour. It allows the companies to intrude our privacy zone. Therefore, we become not only easy Malte Spitztargets of advertising companies but also hostages of our personal life. An example of an ordinary victim of privacy violation is the German politician Malte Spitz, who reveals in a Ted Talk video how he had discovered that his own phone company was gathering information about his activity for a period of 6 months. The phone operator stocked data, included his daily geographical location (minute by minute location records) and the browser history (calls, messages, emails etc.) of the politician’s life.

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Alessandro Acquisti in “Why privacy matters”  Ted Talk is explaining that a radical change in people’s attitude towards privacy occurred within the past years. As an example, about 100 billion photos were shot in 2010, with a minor percent of them being uploaded, while in 2010 in just one month, about 2.5 billion photos were uploaded on Facebook only. Due to such an increase, the ability to recognize individuals in photos multiplied by 1000 times. The growth of the available facial data, combined with the developed facial recognition capability of devices may cause a crucial change in our privacy sphere. Each web user becomes a potential target of Internet criminal activities.

Internet lawbreakers and strangers noticed that teenagers are the most vulnerable and naïve group of users, which turns them into easy targets for immoral acts.

Indeed, 65% of this group aged 10 -13 years, are active Internet users. Current research demonstrates that 163 out of 166 websites don’t require parental involvement when personal teenagers’ data is gathered.

Now, the question is: how far are people willing to expose their private life?

It is surprising how cheap some individuals rate their online privacy. People easily expose their personal life on social media websites to strangers. A study showed that the average web consumer rates his privacy at only 50 Euro cents.

This threats to privacy cross the boundaries between our private and public life. While the technology is developing very fast and facilitates our lives, it may threaten our existence as individuals. We leave footprints behind us every single moment spent on the Internet (emails, messages, credit cards) or while using our cell phones (biometrics, location, personal data). Privacy is important to our daily activities. It is a part of our personality and decisions. We are to make our own decisions, to protect ourselves from being hurt and our life being exposed. Think about what may happen in 5 or 10 years, when everyone will have access to our personal information, when marketers will take advantage of our activities and without knowing, we will become marketing targets, and even worse- our decisions we’ll no longer belong to us, when our decisions will be ruled by someone else. Without privacy, we are close to become like Adam and Eve – when we realize that we aren’t wearing any clothes.

Any personal information can become sensitive information.

References:

  1. Liu H.: Internet Marketing, Consumer Surveillance and Personal Privacy: Social Exchange or Panoptic Control?,2000
  2. Sheehan K.B.: Toward a typology of Internet users and online privacy concerns, Information Society,2002