The world we live in is different than previous generations. One of the reasons is because our brains are different then our past ancestors due to technology.
Technology gives us instant gratification but the research demonstrates that those who are able to delay gratification are more successful in life (Walter Mischel’s research & the Stanford marshmallow experiment). Our brains are now conditioned to wanting everything immediately and frustration can occur when we have to wait. We have instant access to news, information, mental stimulation, and even food. We watch television shows where there is a quick resolution and people often complain if a movie is over 2 hours long. Computer games are designed to provide us with just enough rewards to keep us addicted to playing. Research by Simone Kuhn provides evidence that the brain changes when people play video games. The left side of the brain called the ventral striatum is the reward and addition center and when stimulated with video games increases in the volume of gray matter making people more likely to continue to play these games. Changes in this area of the brain also affect decision making and goal setting. We also have an addition to social media via technology. We carry our phones everywhere constantly checking emails, twitter, and facebook. When we do not able to connect to these types of social media we are often thinking about them, what to post, what someone else posted, and if someone commented on our posts. These are not only addicting and changing our brains but also creating us to be much more egocentric.
Technology provides us an outlet to be self-centered. We are often using our phones while waiting in lines, walking around the park, or as we are shopping in a store. Are we so important that we MUST have these conversations at these times? When we post on social media it is often related to our own personal feelings, experiences, and opinions. We are driven to make sure the world know our stance on political or religious beliefs, sometimes to the point that we shove our own point of view into the faces of “friends” on a daily basis! We all have friends who must post over and over that they are pro this or that! Enough already, we get it! Your values are more important than ANYONE else’s; unless they agree with you! Technology also makes people so egocentric that they think they can say (or type) anything to anyone. We feel so safe that we often have no filter and therefore no compassion. When playing video games we feel so empowered that we can demean another person, kill them and then verbally abuse them stating things like “you suck!”
Technology has created an entitled, addicted, instant gratification, and egocentric society. We need to realize how our brains have changed and know that we need to make personal changes. We need to build the empathic centers of our brains. We need to use technology for good (because it sure isn’t going anywhere). We need to be mindful and aware of how our brains are changing and make conscious decisions to disconnect for a while. We need to make purposeful intentions to connect to other human beings face to face. We need to ask others how they are doing instead of always focusing on ourselves.