July 3, 2018

Themes about the personal impacts of digital life


THE POSITIVES OF DIGITAL LIFE Glorious connectedness Many argued that the internet has provided one of the greatest boons to individuals: the ability to reach out and connect directly with friends, family, colleagues, knowledge, education, entertainment and more anywhere globally at any time in a nearly free and frictionless manner.
Invent, reinvent, innovate Digital tools enable people to invent or reinvent their lives and careers. They can also innovate through wide networking with people and information that allows them to develop businesses, find the perfect job, and meet soulmates, colleagues, new friends and fellow interest-sharers.
Life-saving advice and assistance People can tap into and share medical, safety and health resources and support at a moment’s notice, which is crucial for personal health and a game-changer for people engaged in child and elder care.
Efficient transactions These experts also hailed the way the internet revolutionizes life logistics and experiences. They cited benefits including accessing online education, researching purchases, finding the best options for anything, making quick-hit social connections, planning trips, or coordinating activities ­­­­– which allow people to be more mobile, savvy and globally enriched.
THE NEGATIVES OF DIGITAL LIFE Connectedness overload Low-friction instant access to nearly everything, anytime, anywhere is causing stress, anxiety, sleeplessness and loss of patience. Some experts noted that they witness people missing out on or diminishing important face-to-face social interactions and experiences. Some also noted that work demands and entertainment lures tug away at users 24/7/365 and that there is a loss of attention to “real life.”
Trust tensions The business model of internet platforms is mostly built on an attention economy that rewards addictive products that heighten users’ emotions and perpetuate polarization. In addition, there are concerns among experts about issues of security, surveillance and privacy.
Personal identity issues Self-promotion, narcissism, click bait, trolling, propaganda and pressures to conform have become dominant in social networks, causing some individuals to experience the loss of self-confidence and self-esteem. This encourages them to lose faith in others and adopt a negative world view.
Focus failures Digital life fosters shallow engagement with information as people glide through multiple information streams daily, taking little time for reflection. People have a diminishing capacity to concentrate well enough to stay on task and do long-term, deep-dive thinking.

Pew Research Center and Elon University's Imagining The Internet Center