USC professor invites students to stand out at Science, Technology and Society event
By Kaitlyn Oliveros, April 26, 2022
Cal Poly Pomona’s Science, Technology, and Society program hosted an online event on April 19, inviting Julie Albright, a digital socialist and professor in the USC Department of Applied Psychology and Sustainable Infrastructure at Viterbi School of Engineering, to discuss the positive and negative effects. social media and introduce the idea of becoming “unattached”.
Science, Technology and Society is a program of the College of Letters, Arts and Social Sciences, available in both major and minor. Professor and Program Director Peter W. Ross organized the event for students who are currently focusing on the impacts of social media.
“I have students who are really interested in hearing from an expert on the impact of social media on societies and psychology,” said Ross, explaining why Albright was an ideal speaker for the event.
Becoming independent, as Albright explains, is the idea that social values and behaviors such as getting married, having children, and going to church are no longer in place. Younger generations have since replaced these social values and behaviors with digital hyper-connectivity. Their lives now revolve around digital devices and social media.
Although technology is more advanced than ever, people are also more dissatisfied than ever.
“It’s fine to drop out, but the problem is that there are no new grounding institutions that have replaced the committed relationship, the home, being part of a group in your community, etc.”, Albright said. “Instagram isn’t replacing that, and if it was, we wouldn’t be seeing these rising rates of anxiety, depression, physical health issues and things like that.”
Since Instagram’s release in 2010, the medium has grown to over a billion users. Of these 1 billion users, at least 500,000 of them are social media influencers. Albright explained how these social media influencers play a huge role in why young people are so depressed.
“The young people who bathe in this world compare themselves to retouched, retouched, adjusted, thinned, elongated images. … They compare themselves to a reality and to people who don’t really exist,” says Albright. “Themselves don’t look like that; themselves do not have this fabulous life. You see 10%. You don’t see the remaining 90%.
With lives now revolving around technology, parents are now giving their kids devices to keep them busy instead of taking them out and playing. Albright pointed out that since older generations didn’t grow up with advanced technology, they had more physical experiences. In fact, Albright presented recent studies which showed that only 6% of children still play outside.
People have become very dependent on the Internet to the point of believing that they can no longer live without it. Albright presented an online survey of adults around the world who think they can’t live without the internet. India ranked first with 82%.
“We don’t have a plan B for society when the lights go out,” Albright said. “We need to rethink autonomy a bit more, so when, not if, when the internet goes down, we don’t starve or panic.”
By introducing the idea of being untethered and discussing both the good and bad impacts of social media, Albright hopes students are more intentional in their use of technology and reserve sacred spaces for themselves.
“Spend time with friends and family, face-to-face without a device between you and really be there for yourself and the other person. Make connections and dedicate that time to building those relationships,” Albright said.
Martha Rosario, a student in Geography and Science, Technology and Society, took away a lot from the event.
“She really applies the ethical part to how we live our daily lives in terms of how we all interact and use technology on a daily basis, and that gives us good content to think critically and reflect on our lives and how we can possibly do better or become more aware,” Rosario said.
For more information on Albright, students can find her Twitter page @drjuliea.