Staying in control of technology – Punch Newspapers

Chukwuemeka Fred Agbata Jnr.

A few days, I finally had the chance to see The Social Dilemma, a docudrama film that focuses on the increasing influence of social media and how it is leading to addiction as well as mental health issues for anyone not mindful of these possibilities. The film confirms some of the things I have always observed in my life, which led to my decision to scale down on social media usage and turning off notifications across all devices.

A lot of times, I wonder how teens and kids that will become adults today will be able to lead normal lives. I know some will but many who are not properly guided may not and the reason is simple. Take social media for example, you are placed in box based on user behaviour, preferences and many other factors as captured by the artificial intelligence that is always monitoring you. So, the information you see on your screen is tailored to suit all your preferences, which may be different from the reality. I wonder how many parents, teachers and guardians even realise this?

Today, I observe some young people making life-long decisions based on what they see their online friends, followers, friends, or, even, school mates do or say online. Forgetting that many of what is shown online is simply make-belief; they are, usually, not real. I am not a psychologist, but this sort of lifestyle may lead to increased cases of depression, loneliness, lack of concentration and sadly, suicide. A number of studies are already pointing to this fact and one hope that the increased cases of suicide has some connection to the fact that we are indeed, losing our human touch in many ways than one.

A friend once told me that 90 per cent of communication with his wife is via instant messaging. It might seem like it is not a big deal especially if they are hardly together because of work or some other reason. That scenario is understandable, however, in this case, they are both in the country and right under the same roof. Now, while I accept people have a right to their choice of communication, I doubt if this is healthy on the long run.

The pertinent question to young people, who are always glued to their phone, is simple. When was the last time you said, ‘hello’ to someone, face to face, or, even a smile? As the world advances, some of these natural, freely given characteristics might end up becoming scarce commodities, if we do not take care. The world has evolved to an interesting point, where people witness accidents and rather than help out in any way possible, they take out their phones and start recording maimed or dead victims instead!

Fake news via online channels and social media has led to crisis in many parts of the world. Not just ordinary crisis but leading to the death of many. In Nigeria, we have seen how lies and fake news almost, quickly get out of hand. Platform owners are constantly struggling to control the spread of some of the harmful information from being promoted.

Deep fake is one technology that is keeping industry watchers awake. With it, anybody can pretend to be anybody. In case you have not heard about it, just get on a search engine and search for ‘President Obama and Deep Fake’. Watching the short video, will make you wonder what kind of world we would be living in, say in another five years? People need tech education more than ever before because it is nearly impossible to detect a deep fake without the use of technology.

Here is an excerpt of a piece I wrote seven years ago, that still holds true today;

‘As I sat in front of my laptop, trying so hard to knit this article together, it just occurred to me how much my life has been virtually wired around the Internet, the World Wide Web and Information Communication Technology, and all the gadgets that come with living in a technology-driven global village.

Today, rather than visit, or, talk to each other across a desk, or, on the street, we prefer to use technology. Of course, it’s easier and convenient to employ technology but the one thing that separates human beings from other species of God’s creation is the ability to interact and communicate ideas, share our fears, frustrations, feelings, hopes, aspirations and dreams with others – these are unique human traits. But we seem to be losing them gradually to technology. I am not against technology, (I am extremely passionate about it), but the evidence is overwhelming – many of us, especially, of the younger generation, are losing the human touch with those in our lives whether, on personal level, career, or, business.

A question – do you think you might be losing business, because of your overuse of technology? Do you think one of your relationships might be in jeopardy, because you are relying too heavily on technology? Are you losing touch/connection with others, in your life in a real and human way?

If your answer is yes to all or any of these questions , then, my response to you is this: – use technology as a tool and not a crutch, if you want to develop, build and maintain positive relationships with others in your life’.

It is important to be aware that we are being trailed by artificial intelligence and other types of algorithms and they are learning our every move. If you research the phrase engineering addiction or learn more about Dr BJ Fogg who founded the Behaviour Design Lab at Stanford University, then you would get a bit of understanding about how tech giants build ‘addictive’ products.

In whatever you do, just ensure that you stay in control of technology and know that keeping your human touch ought to be paramount.

CFA is the founder of, a business and innovation platform

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