Sitting at a computer and writing for my two blogs is part of my weekly life. Not a day goes by when I do not have some time using my laptop. I read the daily paper, interact on social media sites, have conversations through email, and do my planning on this piece of technology. If I am not doing these activities on my computer, I am using my smart phone or my tablet to do them. Besides these forms of technology, I have a smart watch which not only tells me the time but also can receive phone calls, give me notifications from social media and email accounts, keep track of my steps, and remind me when I have been sitting too long (among a list of other capabilities). Add my Amazon Echo in my technology list and you can include listening to music, being reminded of calendar items, setting timers, and getting the weather report among skills at my disposal. My point is that technology permeates every aspect of my life, and I would venture a guess that is true for you as well. After all technology is allowing you to read this blog post.
As strange as it may seem, I can easily recall a time when none of this was a part of my life. I grew up and did not even have a microwave in my house. The technology of my youth included a television, a radio, and a CB radio. I was so excited when during my senior year of high school, I was gifted an Atari. (For those too young to know what any of these items are, talk to someone who is at least 50 years old.) In school, we had one computer for the whole school and was actually not even a computer in the building. The mainframe of the computer was located at the Area Education Association office and through telephone lines there was a workstation that had a keyboard and white/green continuous feeding paper. All the communication was typed and printed out on the paper, no monitors. In less than thirty years, all this has drastically changed.
The question that haunts us is, has this change been for the better?
Spend some time on Google (made possible through technology) and you can find articles stating that technology has improved our lives and you can find articles arguing the opposite. In one article on the six ways technology has made our lives easier, one author states:
From accessing massive amounts of information on the internet to simply experiencing an enriched personal lifestyle, technology continues to benefit us day in, day out. It is undoubtedly true that technology is an important part of our daily lives.James McArthur, Engadet
He goes on to show how communication has improved, advertising is easier, travel has been enhanced, lost items can be located, learning is easier, and handling data is improved. In the article’s conclusion, the author states that life is more flexible due to technology.
Lou Frenzel wrote an article last July which takes the opposite view of technology. While he acknowledges that initially he had viewed the increase of technology as a positive, some very concerning negative impacts have become clear.
Well, there’s growing evidence that some technology is bad for us. Technology has changed us in numerous ways over the last few years, and many of these changes are not so positive.Lou Frenzel, Electronic Design
The concerns which he lists in the article are distraction, too much screen time, increased anxiety, obsession, loss in the ability to concentrate, contemplate, and reflect, and skill erosion. He does conclude his article by pointing out all the good aspects of technology.
Clearly, an either/or answer does not fit here. There seems to be more of a both/and response. Technology has made life easier in some ways. A lot of positive changes to life have occurred. Yet, we must use caution as well. Safeguards must be in place so that technology does not destroy the life which it was created to enhance.
How has technology changed in your lifetime? What impact does technology have on you today? Where do you think technology may go in the future? Do you have safeguards in place to mediate the potential issues which technology presents?