It seems like technology has taken over almost overnight. I’ve only been walking on this Earth for 23 years but the technological progress we have made in the last 10 years was faster and bigger than I could have imagined. While we don’t have flying cars and everyday-robot-bestfriends, we do have incredibly fast Internet, phones that have the capabilities of a computer, and computers thinner but more powerful than we’d thought possible.
We are spoiled. The amazing advancements in technology has definitely spoiled us to expect more more more. It has made us more dependent but also more curious. I believe our whole mindset and approach to life has shifted because of technology.
That is not to say I dislike technology. Quite the contrary, I love technology. Without technology, I wouldn’t be here now, writing my thoughts out in a blog where you, the reader, are able to read and reflect on my words. I wouldn’t have a way to stay connected with family and friends in Europe. I wouldn’t be able to get self-educated on all of the topics I’m interested in and I wouldn’t be able to meet many people I have met through the digital realm.
I am extremely grateful for technology and I couldn’t be happier that I am able to be alive to see this “magic” happen. I doubt it’d be called anything else by people who were alive centuries ago. It is magical and it is wonderful. It’s a hugely powerful source of information at our very own fingertips.
But while I love technology, I do want to take a few minutes to reflect how our lives have changed with the onset of technology as well. As you may imagine, this is purely done from my own perspective and experience. You may see it differently. I’d love to hear your thoughts about the effect of technology on our society today and on YOU as a person in the comment section!
Staying connected with people
Social networking was created as a way for people to connect. The more popular it became, the more central it became in many people’s lives. It’s shocking when you meet a person who doesn’t have a Facebook, especially when that person is relatively young. It’s practically impossible to find someone who doesn’t engage in any type of social networking, be it Facebook, Twitter, or else. Social networking has become a standard to human interaction.
There is no more slipping handwritten notes during class or handwriting phone numbers for an attractive stranger. I thoroughly enjoyed the personal touch that handwritten notes came with. I like having a longer message on a piece of paper, decorated, with that personal handwriting – it makes it a much more intimate and enjoyable experience – but it’s still just communication. Today, it has been replaced with text messages, instant messaging, and tweeting. While I absolutely love the ease, convenience, and capabilities of communicating with people this way, I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels like the personal touch is really missing in these interactions.
I try to keep the handwritten note thing alive and I’m happy to see that some people are as well. I feel like the initial craze of technology has taken over but now that technology has become such a standard fact of life, people are realizing that there IS value in handwritten notes as well. Although I doubt I’d be getting a handwritten letter from anyone anytime soon.
Missed human connections
On the flip side of communication, I’ve realized just how immersed some people are in their tech gadgets. Instead of communicating with people who are around them, literally in real life, many opt to stay in the digital reality, talking to people via their phone or Internet. With the uprise of technology, the ability to connect with people has risen. However, it’s important that I distinguish the type of connecting that is happening here.
The Internet-based communication cannot be replaced by real human interaction as much as we attempt it to. We think that chatting online is the same thing as chatting in person but it really isn’t: we don’t get to see the person laugh, we don’t touch, we don’t move. We sit and type, sometimes without even uttering a word out loud. Our mind might be in conversation but the rest of our body is not. We need the personal human interactions to satisfy our social needs.
It’s also increasingly difficult to meet new friends. Before, it took as little as going outside to a busy place – coffee shop, school, library. But now, I always see people on their phones. I see people walking down the sidewalk with their eyes glued to the little screen. People are getting almost run over while crossing the street because they are so glued to their phone, they forget to look whether a car is coming. Many people are so immersed in the digital experience, they are forgetting about the real-life experience. You can only imagine how difficult it is to talk to a stranger when they are not all here in real life. We are becoming increasingly anti-social without even realizing it.
Fueling our information-hungry mind
You’re watching a movie and you hear a word you aren’t familiar with – you check your phone for the dictionary to check it out. You are debating with a friend and you are sure they are mistaken about a certain point – again, the Internet comes to the rescue and the issue has been resolved in less than 1 minute. Facts are flying left and right and this incredibly easy attainment of information and data has changed us into somewhat of a more analytical nation. We can easily prove or disprove whatever we want, within seconds. We can explore and educate ourselves on whatever topic we choose, anywhere we want, all we need is our smartphone or tablet to do it.
The Internet has brought an abundance of information to us. The problem is that there might be too much of it out there. The mystery is… wait, what mystery? I don’t remember the last time I was so curious, I wanted to spend a full day just exploring a topic until I find what I’m looking for, all while getting lost in the books and movies about things that are related to it as well. Now, we just need to click the button and we have the answer to our very specific question. But it ends there. We don’t even get excited as much about finding answers anymore because of how readily available they are. We have taken for granted learning experience and focused on just getting the fact or answer to the one question we had instead of actually learning a bit more about the topic and forming opinions about other issues surrounding the topic as well.
I do agree that this has brought a huge convenience factor into the picture and our productivity is that much higher. But it is nice to just learn for the sake of learning sometimes too, no?
What’s privacy, anyway?
We live in an age where we are judged by what we post on our Facebook pages. Whatever photos we put up, whatever we write, who we are friends with – all of this is front and center on the Internet for everyone to see. You are judged by your friends, by potential dates, by employers. People make judgments based on what kind of information they get on you from the Internet and they form an opinion before they may have even had a chance to have a real conversation with you. It’s all too-common. This is actually a topic I studied for my Honors Thesis in college (read it here, if you’re interested). People constantly use our social pages on the Internet as a means to draw conclusions about the types of people we are.
What happened to finding out about a person by speaking to them? I feel like I know certain people who make their lives public on the Internet, when in reality, I have never even met them in person. Bloggers, for instance, especially the bigger bloggers – you may feel like you actually know those people but you probably have never even spoken to them. Am I right? I know about this first hand, I follow and admire many bloggers and even though I have never spoken to them nor had my emails answered, I feel like I know the type of people they are. It’s so weird. Again, I’m not necessarily saying this is bad or good, it’s simply an observation.
Another thing is the “creeping.” I know all too many people who cyber-stalk their potential dates before going out with them. Personally, I know how cyber stalking affects me. As a person who tends to see faults in potential dates and focuses on those faults rather than focusing on the good things (it’s something I’m working on, trust me), going on that person’s Facebook page will only make the “NEXT!” process that much faster. And I wouldn’t even get to really talk to the person. I’ve done this many times before, that’s why I refuse to “friend” someone I’m “interested in” on social media. And if it does happen, I never look at their pages. I want to give the person a chance in real life. Sadly, I know many people who are like me and the real-life chance may never happen because the online profile did not stand up to their expectations, whatever those expectations might be. We tend to forget that a social profile is just that, a profile. It’s not always a reflection of who we truly are.
My favorite thing about technology is the resources it provides us. As someone who is always hungry for knowledge (but in a more complex way than the simple question-answer thing I mentioned in the second point), I love teaching myself new things. Internet has made this experience that much easier.
In the last couple of years, I have become an experienced photographer with well-developed skills and personal style guided by what I’ve seen on the Internet. In the last year, I became a healthy living blogger and I was able to learn more about health, cooking, baking, and fitness on the Internet from other bloggers and various websites than I ever did in any classroom. In the last month, I started taking an online course to a life coaching certification so that I can help others get more motivated and reach the goals they set for themselves. I never would have even known about a career like this if the Internet wasn’t around. In the last few weeks, I have been working on an eCookbook that I will be releasing in the new few weeks with the help of Internet, Adobe, and photography all in one. In the last few days, I have been teaching myself the basics of web development and programming so that I can successfully launch my tech startup when the time comes (the idea is there already!).
Technology has given us an unlimited source of education. It’s only up to us whether we use these resources for our personal development or whether we spend it purely on entertainment.
Now it’s your turn:
How have you seen technology change us in the last few years?
Do you agree with the things I wrote about?
Let me know in the comments below!
Disclosure: I am participating in the Verizon Health and Fitness Voices program and have been provided with a wireless device and six months of service in exchange for my honest opinions about the product