It seems to me that technology is changing the world fast. People seemingly rely on technology for every aspect of their lives: personal, work, school, entertainment, social, etc. It seems that, even just in the past few years people use gadgets to function. Without this connection, people seem to be lost.
Just yesterday, I saw three people with their smartphones plugged into electric outlets in public places. In my place of work, I have a handful of people each night ask me what the password for the Wi-Fi network is and must field complaints when this network is on the fritz. To me, these seem like quasi-desperate attempts to remain connected to friends and family in the cyber-world wherever we are, but I am not ashamed to say that I, too, have plugged my phone in at places such as restaurants and have been annoyed when the internet in a place does not work. This leads me to question how we got to this place of dependency. What would we do if we were not always able to talk to whoever we wanted or access whatever information we wanted on a whim? Despite the fact that just a few years ago, smartphones were not a necessity, but something that only businessmen lugged around, how did we communicate aptly and succinctly? Did we? And looking forward towards the future of our society, where can we go from here? How much more “connected” can we be?
At the beginning of the semester, I attended the introductory lecture of a professor who banned laptops and all “smart” devices from his classroom. He actually even made everyone in the room turn off their phones, giving an anecdote about a ringing phone ruining a performance of a symphony orchestra. Needless to say this turned many people off from the taking class almost immediately. The thought of having to bear an hour and twenty minutes twice a week without a phone or laptop seemed impossible, even to me. Disregarding the fact that computers in the classroom are often used for things other than educational purposes, this seemed so antiquated a method of teaching. There are so many positive things about having a computer in the classroom. I have been in classes where, when the professor does not know the answer to an off-the-cuff question, he will ask a student with a computer to “Google” it. This is a case in which a computer is quite helpful. In an attempt to be more environmentally friendly, the use of computers to take notes and access readings is also very successful. While they are slightly distracting, they are monumentally helpful and efficient. In this situation, the positives definitely outweigh the negatives.
In a conversation that I recently had with my fourteen year old sister, I was asked if I had heard a fairly new and popular song. When I replied that I had not, she was appalled. She was amazed that, between YouTube, the radio, the internet, Facebook, and Twitter, I had not heard this song. I explained to her that these entities are not integrated into my daily functioning quite like they are in hers, but she was still shocked. As if to verify her shock, she asked me about a specific popular iPhone app, which I wound up not having. She could not fathom the fact that I did not know what she was talking about and that I was not overly interested in finding out more about it. This leads me to deduce that, as time goes on, technology is affecting younger and younger people more and more.
It is the little things like the ones that I have spoken of that intrigue me most about technology. It is becoming a part of our lives in a way that it never was before. People seem to becoming dependent on technology at younger and younger ages, and are even starting to expect to be able to use it everywhere. When they cannot, people become annoyed and are turned off from the idea of not having access nor ability to use it. I think that the way that technology affects people, for better and for worse, is very interesting and says a lot about where we stand as a people.