Family columnist warns of ‘electronic apocalypse’ from online generation of electronics-addicted youth

The physical apparatus we use to process the world is being re-shaped, and if we don’t preserve what we once had, our very sense of being will shift permanently and irreversibly. The content of our digital lives is no longer an appendage to life — it is reaching a point where it is life.


Image source

Are we really alive and free, interacting face to face? Where has the listening ear gone? Is all connection lost?

On Tim Lott’s Family column on The Guardian news site, these concerns come to life. High-tech phones and social media platforms have interconnected people over long distances, but humanity’s growing obsession and intoxication with the digital world is actually breaking real life bonds, destroying precious eye to eye contact.

We are losing empathy

Researcher Tim Lott longs for the days of old, describing the ugly reality that 21st century humanity is beginning to create. He wrote, “The physical apparatus we use to process the world is being re-shaped, and if we don’t preserve what we once had, our very sense of being will shift permanently and irreversibly. The content of our digital lives is no longer an appendage to life — it is reaching a point where it is life, in the sense that the imagination can conceive of nothing else.”

In researching the problem, he found some startling statistics. For one, the average teenager now manages 4,000 text messages a month. Five years ago, the Kaiser Family Foundation found that adolescents from 8 to 18 years of age were spending seven hours a day on handheld devices and phones. Tim also made a startling connection in his research. In a compilation of 72 studies, he found that the current online generation had 40 percent lower levels of empathy than previous generations.

Indeed, throwing away human interaction for electronic communication is destroying the human ability to relate, to perceive, to understand one another, and to accomplish new things. Technology destroys the empathetic connections between people. The addiction to hand-held screens cuts off one’s soul from the universe around him and the universe within him. Needing continuous partial attention also corrupts character, destroying human empathy for all living things.

“Human relationships now seem to be marked with what resembles a series of nervous tics — phone tics, PC tics, tablet tics,” wrote Lott.

He continues, “Where is the empty space into which we can climb in order to find ourselves? Not only are we losing its coordinates, a whole generation does not even know that it exists.”

Original article by L.J. Devon

About The Conscious Reporter


  1. And what about this new Pokemon thingy? I am just piecing together what it is from a few videos (OK, on FB, oh the irony) of crowds running through public parks with their phones flashing to find these things? WHAT?!

    I can see it’s been bred in me to sometimes prefer to text than call – liking the shield of a few neat words rather than the immediacy of a phone call. Such a shame.

    And recently living somewhere without good internet – what a difference. Everything calms down a notch and my perception is allowed to breath.

    So sad, so sad, that we are so easy to sell off our own lives for entertainment.

  2. What comes to mind is some of the outrageous, mean, vile and disturbing content there is on the internet and how these affect victims vs passerbys.

    There is a growing rise of online/tech based harassment against teens (and adults), even leading to suicide. You hear about this more and more. It is a sad world that only in those extreme instances of suicide or attempted suicide that we wake up to understand that something went wrong, when in reality, a lot of people try to face the pain on their own – making it very hard to determine the extent of the hurt caused by the harassment/attack against the victim. Many of which goes on and on, perhaps never to be known, and the wrongness of the situation is usually [only] judged by the victim’s ultimate outcry of not being able to handle it anymore. However some people are just stronger then others – but this in my opinion does not justify the wrong and hurtful actions of the attacker.

    A lot of this kind of content can stun anyone from the cruelty and hostility that people have against one another, yet most people hold back, ignore it, and let the victim handle it alone.

    But where is the empathy when someone reads or passes hateful content (if its not affecting them) Meanwhile the victim is dreadfully taken back and sulks in the repercussions in complete isolation.

    This is how society grows with more and more lack of empathy, while victims are cast out.

  3. Strange that getting dumber is cool these days. Technology and addiction to it moves so fast! In a couple of decades we became not only dependent to our gadgets but also succumbed and got addicted to the constant gratification they offer. Hard to imagine what the future will bring but it sure looks unsettling since these gadgets keep evolving to more and more exclusive forms of communication and fulfillment.

    • I must only agree with you. First I was thinking whether is this Pokemon game for real, after while I was also reading about people quiting their jobs and just playing this game, to have the chance to collect all Pokemons. My question is what for we should collect Pokemons? I can see myself being a victim of this modern technology too, not Pokemons game. Sometimes I am wondering how life was easier without all this smart technology. I was maybe dumb before but with all these technical development I feel even dumber as you said Christos, but I do not feel cool.

  4. Hi Esperanza, I totally agree how technology should not dictate a persons life and I’m sure many would say I’m in control, but you only have to wait and watch them when a FB or WhatsApp message comes by and the attention of a person is within their phone.

    Personally I find it better to take a step back, look at myself and see how I’m using / misusing technology. In that way I at least look at how I am using it and can then address what’s going on, make a conscious decision and make different choices. If I deny the issue is there in the first place, like many do, we loose the ability to address it. It would be the same as a drug addict saying they’re fine and in control. Then, when the drugs is taken away, they’re in trouble. The same goes for most of us and our beloved smartphone as the illustration at the top points out.

    On top of that, big tech companies cash in on our weaknesses as their apps are designed to keep us hooked. That is because it is often in their interest that we spend as much time on them as possible. The following article goes into more dept and I personally found it a well worth 15 minute read.

    How Technology Hijacks People’s Minds — from a Magician and Google’s Design Ethicist

    Luckily developers are catching on and are willing to make more empowering apps. Meanwhile individually we have to make sure we use technology and “unplug” once in a while 🙂

  5. The phones are a big trap for all of humanity. I have a friend who rarely looks at me or others when communicating since she is addicted to her Iphone in particular constant attention to Facebook.
    And there is the health issues, so many people especially children sleep with their phones next to them which can be causing their body/brain so much harm.

    Thanks for this article.

  6. We are also losing Intelligence. See “The Dumbest Generation”, actually an academic book that proves the plunge in intelligence for 30-40 year due to electronic distraction. Please, no “lies and statistics” replies. Statistics is a branch of mathematics. Only those too dumb to understand can be lied to.

    Given the predicted rise in machine intelligence and loss of productive employment, some believe dumbing down is a good thing since the dumb will be content on government handouts and increasingly attractive distraction.

    Lead by example. No television. No “social” media. Walk away when the distracted fiddle with their gadget.

  7. I am in my 50’s and refuse to have an iphone or similar, use an old flip phone & won’t text. Texting is causing accidents, serious accidents & no texting is not enforced. The iphone addiction I noticed some 5 yrs ago. Most act like their phone is more important than the present moment. Few are living “in the moment”. The distraction is incredible and no one wants to have a face to face or if you have someone in front of you they are not listening but looking at their phone. While the younger generations like to make fun of the 50+, people my age & older are the ones that invented the technology we are using today NOT anyone younger. Although the media pretends anyone over 50 is slow we aren’t, most of us are too smart to let a machine and piece of technology control us. I use technology, not let technology use me. Big difference. I keep my phone in my purse turned off and only use it when I must.

    We recently visited family in another country who we’d not seen for 10 + yrs. two of the family members were more interested in their i-phones & Whats App than us.

    The trap is deep – Big bro Google, fake FB, LinkedIn ….much is happening on many fronts all simultaneously. I haven’t used Google or gmail or YouTube for years but read an article yesterday on how Google wants to control all news. Getting off topic a bit but few see how it all fits together – distraction, dehumanization, control of info., privacy etc. How is US productivity going one wonders?