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Too Much Dependence on Technology

We live in a generation where everything comes so easy with just a click of the computer mouse. We now live in a world shaped by technology. Everyday we use technology at home, in school and at work. Technology is so much a part of our lives that we have become too dependent on it. Has technology really made our lives easier or has it made it even more complicated? Indeed, technology has its benefits. It made lives easier, comfortable and exciting. Yet, come to think of think, technology has also disadvantages that have on our personal relationships, social interaction and even in our health and overall lifestyle. We have become too dependent on technology and this has translated to various effects. One of human’s greatest invention is the computer. Computers have made life easier, made education more interactive and gave lots of opportunities for learning and research. We use computers at work for the preparation of documents, for the storage of files and other important documents. Nowadays, everything is operated on computers- transportation facilities, business enterprises, data usage, entertainment, and other mental work are now being utilized with the use of computers. Computers have become an important tool for everyone that no one could ever imagine life nowadays without one. What are the risks of becoming too dependent on computers? Scientists have feared that our dependence on technology, specifically on computers will eventually lead to the total loss of traditional and vital skills and capacities to work, learn and grow. Second, over dependence and exposure to computers has also shown to have great effects on health and well-being. The radiation coming from computer screens have shown to have effects on the sense of sight. Some people who work on long hours sitting with a computer the whole day have led more sedentary lives. They lack exercise, fresh air and even good postures making them prone to stress, sickness and fatigue. Another technological breakthrough that has influenced our lives is the Internet. The Internet has given us ways to make life easier. For students, the Internet is heaven-sent technology. Nowadays, students rely on the Internet for schoolwork like research. It has provided the students a venue for more learning and information gathering. It had made the lives of scholars easier too, as data are readily available for research. With the Internet, we can easily communicate with anyone and everyone around the world at any time of the day. With the Internet, communication broke barriers and gaps. Communication has widened with the creation of social media and social networks. Social networks have made the spread of news and the transfer of ideas easy, fast and even on a real-time basis. Family members and friends who are far apart feel like they are just next door to each other because of Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google and Instagram. The world has become smaller and technology has made us even smaller as individuals. While the social media has made us closer with people we love, it has also created a lot of chaos and pandemonium around the world. Online technology dependence is now a worldwide phenomenon and it is the younger generation who are the most vulnerable to this technological addiction. Cyber bullying and even pornography is rampant in social media. Privacy of people is even penetrated in social media. Our dependence to the Internet and various forms of social media has also detracted us from spending quality time with family and friends. Face-to-face interactions have become rare nowadays because we rely mostly on the social media. One of the most influential technological gadgets that shaped our lives and changed the way we lived is the cellular phone. Cell phones are easy to use, reliable and handy. Most mobile phones now come in various sizes with various specifications that can do many things. Smartphones gave us ways to get the information we need at our fingertips. Like the social media, smartphones have led people to less interaction and more technological addiction. We know that technology has played an important role in our lives but it has also created a culture of laziness, apathy and too much dependence. While technology has made lives easier and more comfortable, there is also a need for us to take a break from this technological addiction. Oftentimes, because of technology, we forget to smell the roses, enjoy the sun and enjoy the time we have with our family. Technology will come and go, but relationships will stay.


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Psychology of Disasters

Hurricane Katrina struck the city of New Orleans in America in August 29, 2005. The tragedy that hit the American city was a devastating one, killing almost 2,000 people and affecting about 90,000 square miles of America. The hurricane brought heavy rains and storm surges in some places. Low-lying areas were flooded and 80% of the whole city was under water (A&E Television Networks, n.d.). The people had to climb to their attics and rooftops to seek for refuge and safety. Many people flocked to the Superdome for evacuation, but the supplies there were limited. Thousands became desperate for shelter food and water. The evacuation centers were in chaos and the whole city was a devastated sight. It was also impossible to leave New Orleans as people were stuck in the city. No one could get far from the city without proper transportation and evacuation. Thus, hurricane Katrina was a total disaster where people became lost in a maze of chaos and despair. It was perhaps one of the biggest tragedies that struck America. The damage in homes and infrastructure in New Orleans was estimated to hit billions in dollars. But the most shattering damage that hurricane Katrina left was the psychological impact of the disaster among the affected people. It left an indelible mark in the lives of thousands and many suffered mental health problems due to the trauma, pain and hopelessness that they saw and felt at the time of the disaster, and even after the catastrophe. It was a tragedy that could not be forgotten overnight, in weeks, and in months. It took years for those who were affected by hurricane Katrina to move on. Yet some still live in nightmares, trauma and doubt due to the overwhelming effect of the tragedy in their lives. Years after the tragedy, it had been noted that survivors of hurricane Katrina struggled with poor mental health. A study by the Princeton University showed that people who suffered in mental health right after the storm were not back to baseline mental health and they even showed high levels of post-traumatic stress symptoms nearly after five years later. The results in the said study were rare in disaster studies. Based on the study, the respondents showed two signs of poor signs of mental health, including psychological distress and post-traumatic stress symptoms. The researchers of the study found that even after four years, 30% of the participants still had psychological distress and about 33% still had post-traumatic stress symptoms. In the study, the participants also pointed that lack of food, water and medical care, including home damage, death of family and friends were some of the stressors that affected them. About two-thirds of the participants of the study were also back in New Orleans area. However, nobody lived in their old homes anymore. They are now living in new communities. According to the researchers, the study was significant in designing programs and policies that helped in addressing the mental health problems of survivors of hurricane Katrina (Patel, 2012). Meanwhile, in a separate study by the National Institute of Mental Health (2008), it was revealed that more residents affected by the storm endured mental disorders than those initially studied a few months after the onset of the hurricane. The study was a contrast to the typical pattern of recovery after calamities, wherein the number of survivors who suffered with mental illnesses gradually decrease after two years at most. The study saw an increase of about 11% to 14% in the prevalence of serious mental illnesses. The study also showed that the prevalence of suicidal thoughts among survivors increased from 2.8% to 6.4%. Post-traumatic stress disorder also increased up to 15%. The results of the study revealed the slow-pace of recovery of those affected and it suggested the need for a continuous attention of practical and appropriate mental health interventions for the survivors (National Institute of Mental Health, 2008). The above studies underscore the conclusion of many experts that natural disasters like hurricane Katrina, which devastated and affected a large population, often results in mass cases of Post Traumatic Disorder or PTSD. Peter Levine, a well-respected psychological expert said that trauma is characterized not by the event itself, like the coming of hurricane Katrina, but by one’s reactions to the storm and its symptoms. The hurricane Katrina is an example of a distressing and overwhelming experience that caused trauma among its survivors. Traumatic events that lead to PTSD are insidious. This is because they traumatize a large number of individuals at once and can often end up in feelings of guilt among the survivors and other PTSD symptoms that can be cured over a long period of time. Hurricane Katrina was a sudden and overwhelming catastrophe that first shocked the survivors. The survivors who were stranded in New Orleans during the onslaught of hurricane Katrina were shaken, dazed and stunned by the overwhelming damage that they experienced. Like most survivors of disasters, shock would be a natural feeling. This feeling can be accompanied by numbness and denial. What can be seen in the faces of survivors were feelings of initial shock, like the event was surreal something that never happened. Eventually, the truth would sink in among the survivors and they would be in an overemotional state wherein they would feel high levels of anxiety depression and guilt. What can be seen in the people’s reactions were feelings of hopelessness and loss. According to theorists of the psychology of disasters, there are various phases of disasters that show the emotional reactions to disasters. These phases are pre-disaster phase, impact phase, heroic phase, honeymoon phase, disillusionment phase, and reconstruction phase. The Pre-disaster phase describes the phase where the community receives warnings of the type of disaster and the possible threats of the calamity (McMahon, 2011). A day before hurricane Katrina struck there was a warning for the residents of New Orleans. Some evacuated to designated places of evacuation, but many chose to stay home. The impact was even greater for those who opted to stay at home because by the time the hurricane hit the city, the people could not get out of their house because of sudden flooding all over New Orleans. The Impact Phase is the onset of the disaster when it hits the area. In this phase, people are restless and anxious and pangs of panic are felt. It is said that the greater the scope, personal losses, and community destruction associated with the calamity, the greater the psychological effects. This particular phase of disaster was apparent in the reactions of survivors of hurricane Katrina. At the onset, when the storm hit the city and the whole city was totally damaged, people came scurrying to several places to save themselves. One important concept in scenarios of disasters is the concept of panic. The expected behavior of an individual during disasters is panic. This behavior is described by lynch mobs, suicidal attempts, individual and collective anxieties, mass hysteria and group tensions. In the various scenarios seen after hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, one would see panic-stricken individuals who possessed feelings of shock and anxieties. Everywhere, you would see the overwhelmed faces of survivors, stunned and dazed of what just happened and not knowing where to go (Gantt, P. & Gantt, R., 2012). There is also a Heroic Phase in disaster scenarios. This phase is characterized by various acts of altruism and volunteerism among emergency responders and survivors themselves. Rescue missions are conducted, direct assistance is extended and resources are distributed. It is during this phase that people try to survive the ordeal of a disaster (McMahon, 2011). When hurricane Katrina has passed, people tried to survive. Responders were quick to scout the city area for people to relocate them in safe grounds. Survivors became heroes themselves, who helped in the search and rescue missions. This phase gave a feeling of hope for many survivors. In the days after the hurricane, there were scenes of heroism and altruism that sparked inspiration and courage too. Meanwhile, the Honeymoon Phase is a stage where survivors feel a short-lived feeling of optimism. In the Disillusionment Phase, survivors go through an inventory process where they assess the process of disaster assistance. A series of negative feelings arise during this time such as disappointment, anger, resentment and frustration. This phase may explain the trauma that pervades many survivors, which triggered their mental illnesses. Eventually, survivors would begin to assimilate the shock of what happened during the disaster. They would begin to reconcile them to the new “reality” Survivors would start to work out their way out of their grief and build a new life. It is the phase of “acceptance.” References A&E Television Networks. (n.d.) Hurricane Katrina. History.com. Retrieved August 12, 2014, from http://www.history.com/topics/hurricane-katrina Gantt, Paul & Gantt, Ron. (August 2012). Disaster Psychology: Dispelling the Myths of Panic. Asse.org. Retrieved August 12, 2014, from http://www.asse.org/professionalsafety/pastissues/057/08/042_049_f1gan_0812.pdf McMahon, Kathy. (17 March 2011). The Psychology of Disaster. Resilience.org. Retrieved August 12, 2014, from http://www.resilience.org/stories/2011-03-17/psychology-disaster National Institute of Mental Health (n.d.). Mental Disorders Persist among Hurricane Katrina Survivors. August 12, 2014, from http://www.nimh.nih.gov/news/science-news/2008/mental-disorders-persist-among-hurricane-katrina-survivors.shtml Patel, Ushma. (24 January 2012). Hurricane Katrina survivors struggle with mental health years later, study says. Princeton.edu. Retrieved August 12, 2014, from http://www.princeton.edu/main/news/archive/S32/74/14C15/index.xml?section=topstories


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