You Probably Have a Bad Case of Cyber Stockholm Syndrome

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Defined in Rina Sawayama’s album, RINA, Cyber Stockholm Syndrome describes how a “cyber fantasy” can be just as exciting as interaction in person. It describes the simultaneous appeal and anxiety of digital life; how even when technology harms us, we still run back for more. With the freedom and refuge of the internet comes a captor of our time and free will.

The debate of whether or not technology poses as a threat to individuals is ironically portrayed in the media in shows such as Black Mirror and in music such as Cyber Stockholm Syndrome. To put it simply, technology is quickly taking up an inordinate amount of time in our day-to-day lives. Though technology is not inherently harmful, a constant dependency on it is, and many individuals are on a path to near irreversible damage.

Essentially, technology perpetuates a superficial society. Because of how social media has become such a vital part of millions of lives, it’s difficult to imagine life without it. Although the internet as a whole undoubtedly connects people around the world, it also provides an endless labyrinth of information with the intention of luring people — a black hole that’s almost impossible to escape due to every notification, every post, every comment. Researcher Mary Helen Immordino-Yang suggests that technology hijacks one’s ability to form a high-level meaning within their environment. The ways in which society uses technology to set expectations and receive validation creates a superficial view of self in one’s mind. By actively engaging with social media, especially on a daily basis, there’s no way to leave unscathed.

An article from UCLA reports how “50 years ago, the average adult got eight and a half hours of sleep; now we average less than seven hours a night.” The light emitted from devices often reduces levels of melatonin, which regulates sleep. This then causes the inability to have focused concentration, as well as a range of many other negative health-related effects. Some may argue that technology isn’t directly correlated to a decrease in sleep, but plenty of studies have proved otherwise.

Additionally, technology generates an increase in stress levels. According to Dr. David Shanley, an anxiety therapist, “researchers are hypothesizing that ‘perhaps people become so used to and even dependent on receiving constant messages, emails, and tweets, that the moment they don’t receive one, their anxiety increases.’” Chances are individuals are no longer gaining the same pleasure they would compared to enjoying experiences in the moment. Although technology may serve as a safe-space for some individuals, the fact that it also creates an environment of stress by promoting perfection remains undeterred.

Overall, the immoderate use of technology proves to be detrimental. It has robbed many individuals of their own, individual ideas due to the constant exposure to a continuous stream of ideas from thousands of people. Albert Einstein said it best: “It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity.” While some argue that technology instead catalyzes creativity, the effects of technology include uniformity in thoughts and opinions. Take some time to reflect and truly think for yourself — a breath of fresh air in the cyber-infested world we live in today.