The Digital Revolution and Its Effect on the World
By Jack Conner
The Digital Revolution has transformed the world in countless ways. (Image: KeyPersonOfInterest.com)
When American students take their World and US History classes, they learn about the Industrial Revolutions of the 18th and 19th centuries, as well as the Agricultural Revolution in the 17th century. What many people fail to realize, however, is that the world is currently undergoing another period of rapid technological advancement. This period of time has come to be known as the Digital Revolution, mainly because most of the technological developments are related to the computer field.
Products of the Digital Revolution include such devices as computers and smartphones, as well as the useful tool known as the Internet. Originally, the Digital Revolution referred to the switch from analog devices to digital ones, but lately the term is defined as the technological advancement of device capabilities and the expansion of the Internet. All of these changes have caused a massive shift in the way people live, and have completely changed how the world functions.
One important side effect of the Digital Revolution is the spread of globalization. Before the Digital Revolution, communication between people from different areas took much longer than it does today, and it was far less convenient. Now, a person can text someone halfway across the world and get a reply back within a few seconds. This has contributed not only to the increased interconnectedness of the world, but also the almost instantaneous spread of information. Anyone with access to the Internet can find almost any information they need, and when a major event occurs, it pops up on the Internet immediately.
Despite all the benefits this new era seems to bring, there are clearly downsides to the increased role of technology in many people’s daily lives. People now have shorter attention spans than ever before, with the average person’s attention span decreasing from around 12 seconds in 2000 to just 8 seconds in 2020. Additionally, with so much going on all the time, companies are competing with each other to see who can keep our attention for the longest period of time. This has led to an increase in sensationalism in almost every aspect of life, with news headlines becoming more alarming and movies and video games becoming more violent and extreme.
The Digital Age has also affected the way people get their news, with many people, especially younger generations, turning towards the internet and virtual posts for their news rather than televised news. Since there are so many sources of news available on the internet, some individuals may only choose a specific lane of news, and focus their attention on that, causing them to only hear one side of the story. This has led to the extreme divisiveness within the United States.
While the Digital Age has greatly damaged the workings of the political world (and people’s opinions on it), both in the US and other countries around the world, it has arguably had a much more damaging impact on the generations growing up in it. Studies show that spending large portions of your day on screens can be damaging to the brain, especially in younger children. They cite the thinning of the brain’s cortex, the area associated with critical thinking, as evidence of the damage screens can do to the brain. Additionally, social media sites such as Instagram and Snapchat have been linked to increased chances for depression and anxiety, contributing to the rising numbers of suicide in the modern world.
While the Digital Age has certainly provided numerous benefits, the disastrous consequences it has brought upon the world are undeniable. As has happened with every period of technological advancement, society has come to a point where we must learn to control the new inventions we’ve made. The most important thing to remember is that people control technology, not the other way around, and as long as you’re in control, you can stop any harmful effects before it is too late.