Technology can kill you but it cannot harm you (to rephrase Socrates). It harms you when you let it harm you. Deep purpose, profound self-control for that purpose, and finding family or church or community to encourage you along the path—that’s what we need.
I am more and more convinced that the weight we put on the structural implications of technology and its deleterious effects on us misses the mark. The loss of civic virtues and institutions that had taught forms of self-control, gave community, and more have played a huge role.
This role is unstated, often in technology studies. But one reason why people attempt to find community online is because they cannot find it in real life. Everyone is isolated, lonely, living in cities that tend to further this isolation, prevent large families from existing, etc.
Without the traditional mediating institutions of clubs, churches, fraternities, schools, and other such places, people gravitate towards what’s left: social media and community online.
Further, these institutions valourized self-control and real-life community to curb negative impulses and emotions (in various ways). But now we lack those. And so we accelerate towards lack of impulse control.+
FDR famously said that the only thing we need to fear is fear itself. Now, why might he say that? Well, I am not sure of his exact source, but this line of thinking crosses 2,300+ years of moral and civic temperance—the fear of something in our mind is greater than in reality (a stoic doctrine).
The point is: we had these inherited ideas and institutions like the family which could cement them and support people through their traumas. With these gone or mostly gone, what’s left?