Technology has provided us with far-reaching advances in communication, medicine, and business in the past century. Arguably, technology has created a tightly knit, global community with the advent of the personal computer and the internet. With technological progress in medical diagnosis, treatment and prevention, people are living healthier, longer lives. Technology has also completely transformed the workplace increasing productivity and improving the quality of work. Although modern day technology may appear to be the panacea to all problems, it is not as wonderful as society thinks it to be.
Often, I ask myself, “How could I live without my computer?” I use it to chat with family and friends, do homework assignments, read current events, watch movies, and listen to music. I, along with the majority of American society, have become pseudo-dependent on technology. For example, when heavy traffic clogged the university’s internet connection last semester, students cried that they could not get work done for class. Because of their “dependence” on the internet, they failed to realize that they could easily use a lab or visit the library.
As a society, we do not just feel dependent on technology, but we are addicted to it. Trendy cell phones, checking email, and buying the fastest computer have all become national obsessions. Societal pressure to buy the “latest and greatest” is buried deep in the conscience of America. Even if we own the latest technological products, are we really improving our everyday lives? Hardly. Technology, in general, is a broken promise. For example, Personal Digital Assistants are designed to organize the average person’s life by keeping track of phone numbers, addresses, notes, and files. However, in order to use a PDA effectively, we must have basic computer knowledge, familiarize ourselves with each program, learn how to write with a new alphabet, and recharge the batteries every so often. As evidenced by the PDA, technology often intends to simplify our everyday lives but ends up increasing the complexity of basic tasks.
Not only is technology complex, but it also changes frequently adding confusion and discomfort in our lives. Moore’s Law states that computer processor speeds increase twofold every eighteen months. With technology advancing at such an alarming rate, it is no wonder why millions of Americans almost feel offended by technology. Even before a person becomes familiar with a particular device or software program, there is usually a newer, better version of it already out on the market. Because of this rapid change, we are often dependent on things we do not even know how to use. In these cases we are forced, and sometimes humiliated, to rely on “dummy” books or tech support to carry out simple activities.
As if we already do not have enough worries, technology also raises countless legal and ethical issues. As banks, credit card companies and hospitals rely more and more on technology, our privacy becomes an increasing concern. According to the Federal Trade Commission, almost 700,000 individuals were victims of identity theft in 2001. Because of growing dependence on technology, we must understand how to use it properly and safely. From identity theft and information warfare to cloning and copyright issues, countless problems have arisen from recent advances in technology.
If technology is so problematic, frustrating, and offensive, then why do we love it so much? In reality, we have no choice. Technology is an integral part of our American lifestyle. From the time our digital alarm clocks wake us up, to the time our televisions put us to sleep, technology surrounds us. However, just because technology pervades society, it does not mean that we should welcome all new advancements with open arms. We must be careful with technology, as it can help us as much as hurt us. In order for our society to continue to prosper, we must become increasingly knowledgeable of how technology can affect our lives for both the better and the worse.