Two Takes On Technology
Technology is an ever-changing field that supports brilliant leaps toward convenience while also creating voids in human contact. The same smartphone that allows us to contact anyone, virtually anywhere, and at any time, is often a distraction to common communication. While the advantages of a pocket-sized, cordless, communication device seem to be endless, the disconnect created by emotionless texting and the diversion cell phones illicit in social situations is counter-intuitive. In other words, we have these phones so it is easier to communicate, but they seem to get in the way of truly connecting us with other people.
Of course, technology offers many advantages as well. Cell phones are considerably more convenient than a pay phone. Modern cell phones are more capable than many laptops of a few years past. Current tablets offer computing power and portability that was unavailable even twenty years ago. Cloud storage, flash, and other storage media are far superior to floppy disks in both reliability and capacity. Digital cameras have made photography a mainstream past time.
Some studies show that people using cell phones in public, do not engage as often with the people that surround them. A 2008 study titled, "Cell Phone Usage and Social Interaction with Proximate Others" suggests that cell phone users are less willing (able) to help others in social situations. The study even shows that cell phone users smile at others less often. Reported neck and spinal problems increase with the use of tablets, cell phones, and laptops.
It certainly makes me feel better to know that my Mother and our Children have a cell phone with them while traveling. Wifi enabled cars and trucks are a wonderful luxury, especially when on vacation. The Internet offers the equivalent of a fully stocked library at our fingertips. Do-it-yourself tutorials, along with other online learning tools allow us to mess up just about anything we are willing to try. Video chat and video calls open new avenues of communication for both business and personal use. The number of entertainment options is mind-boggling, allowing us to choose formats and genre's that suit our individual tastes.
All of this technology distracts us from work, family, friends, etc., etc. etc.. Trying to get the attention of someone under 18 is difficult, if not impossible once they are occupied with their phone. Small children are often glued to a tablet for multiple hours a day. Is it unreasonable to expect more than one or two people to be paying attention at a youth sporting event? Many of the spectators have their head down, tapping away, only looking up when a cheer or groan erupts from others in the crowd. Of course, texting and driving is a major issue that goes beyond an annoyance and creates true safety issues.
I could probably go back and forth all day, but it is not likely to change anything. Technology is here to stay, and it will continue to progress. The best that we can hope for is that we as technology users catch up to the technology itself. Reducing our reliance on technology and making the effort to engage with the people around us would be a promising first step. The Spiderman franchise made the phrase, "With great power comes great responsibility" popular. With that in mind, if each of us is a little more aware of the power, or allure technology has on us and others, we can take responsibility for how, and when we use it.