The age of technology has brought with it many benefits that are widely discussed and appreciated by human beings across the globe. Less talked about, however, is the negative impact technology has on civilization as a whole. Sure, we discuss the implications of rogue artificial intelligence or video game addiction, but rarely do we consider the effect that technology has on our creative self.
Technology definitely has the potential to stifle your creativity when not used responsibly. We as a society have come to rely on screen time and artificial intelligence as a form of distraction. When we don’t want to think, we scroll. While it may seem harmless on the surface, consistently engaging in mindless tech-centered activities eliminates our desire to spend time exploring our own brains.
Think about it. Prior to technology, our downtime was spent exploring the limits of our minds as we tried to combat boredom or repetition. Instead of filling in breaks with social media posts, we’d go for a walk, doodle, or take on a project we’d been putting off — all of which are conducive to enhancing creativity.
An article by Psychology Today posited that excessive use of technology implicitly affects attention, decision-making, and memory/learning in children. These identified areas are critical in the development of creativity, which requires focus, confidence, and a desire to develop underlying skills. These desirable attributes are instead enhanced by pre-tech activities like book reading or drawing. Technology writer Nicholas Carr has summarized the acute differences between creative-based enhancement and tech-based development in the following, illustrative way:
“Book reading is like scuba diving in which the diver is submerged in a quiet, visually restricted, slow-paced setting with few distractions and, as a result, is required to focus narrowly and think deeply on the limited information that is available to them. In contrast, using the Internet is like jet skiing, in which the jet skier is skimming along the surface of the water at high speed, exposed to a broad vista, surrounded by many distractions, and only able to focus fleetingly on any one thing.”
These skills are further inhibited by the use of technology in adulthood. The modern workforce is encouraged to focus heavily on data and statistics to drive company growth and aid in decision-making. Gone are the days when a creative brainstorm session could produce “the next big thing” in consumer marketing. In fact, an article published by the Graziadio Business Review states that “only one in four people thinks they are living up to their creative potential.”
What is perhaps most amazing about the age of technology, however, is that it begs for creative solutions now more than ever. If we all have access to the same data and analytics, if we all rely on the same artificial intelligence to spearhead our advancement, then we’re heading for a future where conformity and uniformity are effervescent. Without creativity, we lose our ability to differentiate and thus, our ability to innovate.