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What are some unintended long-term health consequences of behavior changes resulting from technological advances?

What are some of the long range consequences of the behavioral changes resulting from technological advances in the past 100 years?

Consider a behavior comparison between the normal life of a human 100 years ago to the normal life of a human today. We have heard of all the medical advances that increase the quality and length of our lives, and all the carcinogenic new toxins and chemicals that have become part of our lives. Life spans are increasing, so in general, the trade-offs might be considered favorable, but I am very curious about studies and knowledge relative to consequences of long term subtle behavior changes that reduce our alignment with nature. Specifically, changes new technology has made to our behaviors.


100 years ago we spent more time exposed to the weather. Today, more of us work indoors, where the environment is controlled and the air filtered (indoor air is much more polluted than outdoor air ).

100 years ago our sleep patterns were a more aligned with nature, with the duration of the day closer to day light. I am sure everyone knows someone that would sleep until noon everyday if they could and stay up very late at night. These folks existed 100 years ago, but the percentage of adults, and in particular children has increased.

100 years ago, showering every day was uncommon. Today, it is probably the norm. What effect does this have on your skin?

100 years ago, sitting down for 12 hours a day, spending 10 hours in front of a computer, or 4 hours reclined in a La-Z-boy would be very uncommon. Today it is not uncommon.

100 years ago, we walked or rode bikes everywhere. Today, we spend more time sitting in planes, trains, and automobiles.

The recent relationship between sitting and life expectancy was a surprise to me. I am very curious to see if the long-term effects of other subtle behavior changes are being studied.

Anyone have a story of an unexpected consequence of a behavior that has changed as a result of technology?

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    Jun 27 2013: The movie Wall-E!! No one has to get out of their chairs because their chairs bring them everywhere they want to go with the push of a button. There have been wonderful advancements in technology and there have been completely pointless nonsensical wastes of time.

    We like to think that our lives have been overly simplified by all this technology that will do the bulk of the work for us but it's actually so overly complicated our day to day life that we've enslaved ourselves to it.

    Our utilization of techno toys does little to enrich our lives but instead acts as a justified distraction from actually living. Why talk to the person sitting next to you on the plane when you can throw on the headphones and zone out? Why go for a walk with your kids when you can throw in a movie and have family time on the couch?

    Living a longer life means little to me if it lacks in quality.

    This is just my perception but it seems like people are losing their ability to emotionally connect with others. When you're not listening to the sound of a person's voice nor looking them in the face it becomes difficult to determine their emotional reaction to what you're saying. We've tried to incorporate a vast range of feelings into emoticons so that people will be able to express themselves via text.

    Take away emotional attachments and an individual's full range of motion due to a sedentary lifestyle and what kind of future are we looking at?
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      W. Ying

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      Jun 28 2013: .

      To make an "effort" to go "a-step-better" upward makes us happy validly.
      The easier a-step-better, the less happy.

      Moreover, we will be killed by technology
      because our bio-evolution goes too slow to adapt it.
      The only way to save ourselves is to quit the invalid (harmful) happiness of technology.

      (from Be Happy Validly!).
    • W T

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      Jun 28 2013: Hello Ang, how interesting that you mentioned the movie Wall-E....it has been used as an example before on TED.

      I agree with what you have stated.

      The unintended health consequences of technology are numerous.
  • W T

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    Jun 28 2013: John Medina's book Brain Rules states:

    Though a great deal of our evolutionary history remains shrouded in controversy, the one fact that every paleoanthropologist on the planet accepts can be summarized in two words:

    We moved.

    Some researchers suggest that we were extending our ranges by an unheard of 25 miles per year.

    This is an impressive feat, considering the nature of the world our ancestors inhabited. They were crossing rivers and deserts, jungles and mountain ranges, all without the aid of maps and mostly without tools.

    That means our fancy brains developed not while we were lounging around but while we were working out."

    * * * *

    Technological advances has made moving all but obsolete.

    We must make a conscious effort to move.......and to look at exercise as life-giving......

    Ang makes a great point below about the social ills that technology brings about.
    Many of us have noticed the same thing.
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    W. Ying

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    Jun 28 2013: .
    The most worrying one of
    "unintended long-term health consequences of behavior changes
    resulting from technological advances"
    is our bio-evolution can never fast enough to adapt to it.

    We will be killed by the technological advances ---- "invalid happiness".