Communication technology has greatly improved our ability to collect and digest information. The power of the Internet and digital communication technology enables us to stay connected to friends, family and the world from virtually any location on Earth. However, these enhanced communication services come with a cultural and relational price tag.
A relatively new word coined on urbandiction.com is "crackberry," the term used by Blackberry users to describe their seemingly addictive connection to their PDA smart phone device. Research is emerging regarding the addictive nature of a constant influx of new information. The info we digest isn't all relevant, or even important. But nonetheless digital consumers spend hours browsing on social networking sites such as Facebook and YouTube in what resembles addictive behaviour.
The digitally connected consumer may have access to friends and family at the drop of a hat, or press of a mouse button, but since much of our communication is nonverbal, those who rely on digital communication are feeling increasingly disconnected from those around them. Communication happens verbally, and through written word, and through body language, tone of voice, gestures and body posture. The last four aspects of personal communication cannot be duplicated online.
While information technology leverages a business's ability to streamline many essential functions, the increased efficiency has come with an employment cost. In the same way factory automation affected employment levels during the 70s and 80s, the Internet and digital communications have made many positions unnecessary. The Internet allows businesses to eliminate job redundancies, automate supply chain management, downsize and outsource some of their daily functions. Consequently many lower- and mid-level jobs have been eliminated, thus increasing the unemployment roles.
In the arena of growing criminal activity, identity theft is made possible because of the vast digital data communication networks which share personal information. Information can be encrypted, and computer records can be hidden behind complex firewalls. Nevertheless, these systems have shown themselves vulnerable to data breaches. As a result our personal information is increasingly at risk. Additionally, cell phone signals can be intercepted with simple electronic devices; e-mail accounts and bank-record databases can be hacked. Identity theft has become a multibillion dollar criminal enterprise.