The Social Stigma Surrounding New Technology

We live in a world that is constantly growing in terms of new discoveries and technological advancements, so you’d be forgiven for questioning just why we’re still so apprehensive about new additions to the market. Whether its wireless earbuds or virtual reality gaming systems, there’s always something being released that is met with a social stigma, but why exactly is this the case? That’s what we’re investigating below.

What Do We Mean By Social Stigma?

To truly understand why new technologies are met with such a strange reception and whether this needs to be met with scepticism, we have to first understand just what social stigma is and why it has come about as a common issue in the first place. In general, social stigma is a disapproval of a feature or something about a person that leads to their being ostracised from society. With this in mind and considering the fact that technologies aren’t people, can we really apply this term here?

Well, that’s up for debate, but the widespread stigma and fear of the unknown applies in a very similar way to any kind of new technology that passes into society and in terms of some of these technologies, they do dribble into social stigma by its traditional definition regardless.

Take “gaming disorder”, for example. The World Health Organisation recently listed this as a legitimate disorder and while there have been substantial arguments against it, the disorder alone is enough to turn people away from the idea of gaming as a whole. The WHO has defined ‘gaming disorder’ as having the following criteria: Gaming is preferred over other social activities, the player doesn’t leave the game regardless of negative consequences, life or relationships are strained as a result and it has to have been an issue for at least a year. While this is an issue that arguably requires help for those suffering, the resulting social stigma as a whole could arguably be the worst part – so why is this the case?

Could It Be Driven By Fear?

It’s very possible that social stigma is driven entirely by fear and when it comes to technologies. Despite previous examples of technologies that have revolutionised our lives today despite fear and hesitance, this is still something that society struggles with today. Here are a few examples:

  • Trains

Nowadays, buying a ticket and hopping on a train is more or less a part of everyday life for some, to the point where it’s their chosen mode of transport to go to and from work every day. However, trains haven’t always been met with such nonchalance. The stigma associated with this new automotive technology was almost entirely due to the fact that people feared going at speeds of 30mph – a fairly slow speed for trains today!

  • Television

Believe it or not, televisions were initially met with fear and not the excitement that so many of us might expect today. Much of this is due to the fact that early TVs, at least those that were faulty, could emit x-rays and cause damage to our eyes. This was fixed, but the fear still lives on in some – after all, how many times have you been told to sit back from the TV to protect your eyes?

  • WiFi

WiFi is a godsend and something that a lot of us claim we definitely can’t live without. It’s our way of connecting with the world without hefty 3G bills or having to call someone up on the phone. WiFi, when it was created, was feared to have the potential to cause cancer through ‘electrosensitivity.’ Of course, there was never any evidence of this and any studies were found inconclusive, as most are, but improvements have certainly limited this fear for most.

Here’s How The Industries Are Trying To Fix The Issue

Nowadays, more and more industries are working to reduce this fear every time they bring out something new. Everything from new smartphones to online gaming has been tested within an inch of its life, and all reputable brands are licensed according to their local regulations, creating a much safer and more secure way of utilizing these new and impressive technologies with every release. While this is definitely not eradicating the fear completely, the younger generations, in particular, are starting to take on new devices and any new technology thrown at them with due hesitance, but an eagerness to learn more. Could these industry improvements be to thank?

New technologies understandably tend to generate a sense of fear among apprehensive audiences and while this is beginning to change, there is still a lot of social stigma, particularly in the world of gaming. Younger generations as a whole tend to receive a certain amount of stigma for their penchant for change and all things new, but could it be fear of the unknown that’s driving all of this? We certainly think so, but one thing’s for certain – this is a topic that’s been hot in the industry for some time and will likely continue to be for the foreseeable future.

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