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Who Are You, Really? Technology as Magnifier

Type A people walked the earth long before technology took such a quantum leap in personal devices. High-strung, nervous controllers always found ways in the past to have their hand in twenty things at once; technology has just made it that much easier. People whose sense of self is tied to what they do instead of who they are have always been susceptible to the lure of saying yes to too many things. With the connectivity and amazing reach of technology, it’s just easier to reach out and snatch more balls to juggle. People who keep snatching and juggling more and more balls can certainly put on a great show. But at some point the show becomes uncomfortable as they juggle more balls and leap through more hoops. The question comes to mind, why are they trying to do so much? The answer is they need to keep up such a crazy pace in order to feel worthy and valuable as a person – again, their use of technology reveals the inner conflict that their value is derived by what they do instead of who they are.

There have always been activities that could hook you, snare you, and take control of your life. Some of these were illegal, and many were at least frowned upon in years past but not so much anymore. The anonymity of technology has blown accountability out of the water. Never before has it been easier to secretly compromise and engage in behaviors you know are wrong or harmful. When you’re the only one enforcing the rules and setting boundaries, it becomes much easier to keep adjusting and moving those lines. However, the more you move the lines and the farther out of-bounds your behavior becomes, the more likely others with will see. When the truth finally surfaces (and it nearly always does, at the most inconvenient opportunity), it can be devastating to come face-to-face with who you’ve become, what you were willing to compromise, and how much you were willing to concede.

People have always been able to manipulate their image. You could do it with materials goods and “conspicuous consumption,” or with fashion, cosmetics, and plastic surgery. You could do it through what you wrote, how you spoke, and in how you presented yourself. People have always had difficulty truly liking who they are; they are fearful of rejection. Before the rise of online technology, frequent social contact made it harder to hide. Now, though, it’s possible to have virtual communities where you never actually see or hear the other person. They can’t hear the trembling lie in your voice or see your fidgety discomfort. They have to take you at face value – without ever seeing your face beyond the pictures you carefully post. Now you can hide in plain sight and spend a great deal of time and energy pretending you have hundreds of friends who are satisfied with the image you project because it’s just easier that way. Technology is a willing accomplice in hiding the real you and projecting the false you.
When technology becomes an accomplice in maintaining a lie, you tie yourself even more tightly to it.

The above is excerpted from #Hooked: The Pitfalls of Media, Technology and Social Networking by Dr. Gregory Jantz.

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