Is the Age of Sharing (and Oversharing) Making Us Less Human?

The technologies that pervade our existence are transforming how we live, work and play in today’s modern world. Our latest study, “The Business Value of Trust”, highlights that almost half of consumers surveyed consider themselves “always connected”, and 77% view social media platforms as critical to maintaining their social relationships. The result of this “always connected” lifestyle is the sharing (and often oversharing!) of every possible detail of our lives – the content of your lunchtime sandwich, medical problems, relationship issues, pets, families, traveling in Switzerland, and almost everything else imaginable. Human conversations are being replaced with ‘updates’ and ‘likes.’ Smartphones and social media have become permanent fixtures in many of our lives. We trust Netflix for movies, Amazon for books, and Google for information, among many other recent dependencies. And now, we’re quickly approaching the future of artificial intelligence, robots and putting even more trust in machines.

We’re not too far from the point when machines will begin to make our life decisions, which fundamentally put our identity as independent humans into question. Or as Gerry McGovern says, digital is making us less conservative. According to a new study, an over-reliance on using computers and search engines is weakening people's memories. As we spent more of our lives online, it raises a based question of how good is good enough? Is it appropriate to discuss your divorce online? Is it wise to share your erratic drug habits with the world? All of these and many more issues relate to personal questions, but they also raise an important point – we’re losing the distinction of emotional connection as we are continually transformed into bits and bytes based on our virtual actions, rather than our biological ones.

We are already overwhelmed by the amount of information in our lives. Does it mean that technology will make us all more disconnected from people we care about? Will it separate us from the natural world? And, will technology deepen inequality in the world economy? We can’t predict the future, but surely we are getting increasingly concerned about the impact of digital technologies on our personal lives. Whatever the future has in store for us, we’ll have to face it.

Technology has undeniably helped improve our society overall, and we’re not decrying the importance of technological advancements. However, technology is not the same as it used to be and we are all responsible for that. Our future will bear the scars of digital wars. Maybe it’s time to ask ourselves what type of world we want to leave for the future? A completely tech-oriented society OR a human-oriented, tech-enabled society?