Technology is Changing Everything Except Us

Posted: May 19, 2011 in Uncategorized

How long does it take each day before you hear the word ‘technology’ used in some form or fashion? Technology is everywhere. This is not a new revelation, I realize. From business, to health care, to everyday personal communication, we as humans are immersed in a technological revolution that doesn’t seem to be slowing down any time soon. In fact, according to Moore’s law, technology is doubling every 18 months to two years! At that rate, it’s impossible for society to keep up, meaning new technology that is invented today won’t become acclimated to our everyday lives for a considerable amount of time.

Yes, technology has changed everything about our daily lives: Our commute, our jobs, our relationships – but there is one thing that it has seemed to conspicuously avoid impacting: Human Nature. What I mean to say is that human beings exhibit the same behavioral patterns today as they did 10, 20, or 50 years ago. We may communicate through different mediums than before, but remarkably we still feel the same emotions, exhibit the same psychological tendencies, and react to various events in the same way that our parents and grandparents did.

When you think about it, it really is quite remarkable. When I was in college, I did a lot of work in the field of academic integrity – and the biggest argument I heard from ‘older’ people was “Your generation cheats a lot more than we ever did. With your iPhone’s and your laptops looking up answers and emailing documents to one another.” I would argue that even if there was more cheating today than 50 years ago – it wasn’t because of human tendencies, it was just simply that 50 years ago students didn’t have the means to cheat as much. If they did, they probably would have (And if the societal pressure on grades had been as high).

Image from Google

In my opinion, the same can be said about anything. Much is made today about Facebook and its impact on relationships. That you have to be careful about what you put on Facebook and who can view it. Well sure, but Facebook hasn’t changed how relationships function at a base level – girlfriends/boyfriends were always upset when they saw their significant other in a compromising position with another person – Facebook has just made that a much more frequent occurrence. To further build off of the Facebook example, I read a funny article recently about the 5 types of annoying Facebook users. It included: The Optimist, Constant Drama, Dear Inanimate Object, The Emotional Wreck, and The Self Promoter (Read full article here). While these were hysterical and rang true for me (I’m probably guilty of the Self Promoter), I would argue that these types of users existed in the same percentages before the internet. Facebook, Twitter, Blogging, and any other forms of technology are enablers of human nature – they put it further on display – but they haven’t changed it.

I think the biggest point I want to make here is that the sheer power of human nature is even stronger than we may have previously thought. In the face of the most prolonged and aggressive change in our world history it has proved steady. Now to be fair, there are certain elements that may be more fluid and are taking time to adapt – but I would bet that isn’t the case.

So what does all of this mean? It means Michael Jackson’s classic song, “Human Nature,” will likely live on well into the 21st Century. It also means that our nature as people is deeply rooted in norms that were established long before any of us were here. Both professionally and personally, we should all spend more time reflecting on and studying human nature. It seems to be the one constant in an ever-changing world, and understanding it is the key to more effective communication and stronger relationships across all channels. I’m interested to see if this continues to be the case, or if human nature becomes as unpredictable as the next big social network.

What do you think? Have you noticed that human nature is still constant or am I way off? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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