There has been a lot of talk about the side effects of technology and innovation in our society these days. Conversations relating to tech addiction, eye sight issues, stress and anxiety due to the excessive use of smartphones in our society are literally happening everywhere regardless of culture or town size. Human-machine conversations and concerns seem to be happening with frequency in the aisles of New York City to suburban Los Angeles and everywhere in between, including in our great town of Cleveland, Tennessee where we live. I have lost count on how many TV reports have been aired on this topic. What we haven’t talked about too much in the media is why are we so attached to smartphones.
What if I told you that the former is happening all over the world because the more people interact with smartphones, the more they become like one without noticing. People are becoming like a computer but are unable to “see it.” We are on our technological devices many hours on end and using sometimes unconsciously.
What if I told you that there is a brand new model of human behavior that explains why we are behaving this way. It is called the Human Robot Cycle. This model has four phases and operate in a cyclical and predictable fashion. The phases are: The State of Equilibrium, Obsessive Computer Use Phase, Burned Out Phase, and the Post-Burned Out Phase. Let me explain.
Every person is born in the state of equilibrium because human beings are not exposed to smartphones in the womb during gestation. As we get acquainted with technological innovations and are consequently given smartphone access in order to satisfy our contemporary technological needs, people unconsciously experience what I call a “process of transformation” which is the first transitory stage of the cycle. In this intermediary state, human beings aren’t in equilibrium but aren’t in the obsessive computer use phase either. I would argue that a person living in this state is engaging in true technomoderation since the person is using as much technology as they are putting technology away, for the most part.
The danger is to eventually develop an obsession with smartphones, pads and video games. With time, people eventually reach the Obsessive Computer Use phase which is the first deep level of human disequilibrium. As more technology is infused in our lives, we pass through what I call “the human robot syndrome” period where we become even more obsessed with computer use which leads us to behave literally like how a machine would. Examples of these behaviors include a tireless call for immediacy, multi-tasking, and production. People are always doing something — chatting with their friends on Facebook while at dinner, updating their Instagram accounts while in class, broadcasting their life events on youtube live while driving to work, you name it.
Eventually, after more exposure and frequency of computer use, people reach the Burned Out phase or colloquially spoken the Robotic Stage. The moment you reach this second phase, technology is the least thing you want to see in front of you. An intervention then needs to take place in order for you to regain your humanity. I call the stage “the human reversal.” Eventually, you will reach the Post-Burned Out phase where computerized device use is minimal. The goal of the Post-Burned Out phase is to bring people back to the equilibrium (first phase) stage where things are just fine and dandy. Typically, individuals who are in this stage would purposely use technology minimally as a means to retrain one’s body to the dangers of technology. The cycle never stops and keeps repeating itself throughout the subjects whole life.
The Human Robot Cycle isn’t sexist or ethnocentric. Gender and nationality seems to have little to no impact on how people interact with their machine. Regardless of cultural background or nationality, tech addiction is impacting your lives maybe for the worse. It is only by better understanding the Human Robot cycle that we finally understand where we all belong in the continuum.