A significant part of this semester’s Digital Journalism course (JOURN 2600) has been teaching students blogging techniques. This includes looking at new technology and how it impacts the way we read (and therefore, write,) not to mention how we pay attention (or don’t.) Here are two excerpts from student work on the impact technology has made on our lives, focusing particularly on adults in the 30+ age bracket as they have witnessed greater changes.
It’s hard to imagine our lives without technology: Computers, Laptops, music players, cell phones, telephones and the most revolutionary, the Internet. All of these form part of our daily life, and living without them seems almost impossible now. So we wonder, how was it for our parents and grandparents or for all those contemporary adults who have been exposed to the revolutionary wonders of technology? In short terms, it has been a life changer. The impact technology has had on our society can truly be measured by the Generation X (adults born in the 60s and 70s) and how their lives have improved ever since the first commercial computer in 1975, the first cell phone in 1983, and even more so, the first computers with Internet in the 1990s. I will focus only on the past three decades and how the main three technological advances have influenced our lives, for the better or for the worst.
The main impact technology has had has been in opening a communication window for our society. “Being able to call my mother in an emergency, when I had to study late, was amazing. It allowed both of us to feel more safe,” says Dinorah Correa, a 47-year-old housewife living in the United States, when she reminisces about the impact her first cell phone had in her life in the 1980s. Regardless of the fact that while house telephones had already been in use a century before cell phones entered the market, the way cell phones allowed everyone 24/7 access became this technology’s first revolutionary impact on society.
However this new device did not make its full impact until the following decade with the introduction of the Motorola Generation 2. Unlike the first mobile phone the second generation “had a more reliable signal, was smaller, including the battery size and it fit in your purse,” comments Correa The actual impact that mobile phones had on society was not notable the moment they entered the market; however over the past two decades (1990s-2000s) worldwide mobile phone subscriptions grew from 12.4 million to over 4.6 billion, showing how over time people have become more dependent on cell phones and the impact it had on their ability to communicate whenever and wherever they wanted to.
Pim started by telling me that he tends to be online so much that his family and colleagues worry when he is not. You would think that a bus driver does not have the time or funds to afford a smart phone, but phone companies have cleverly set up payment plans which allows almost anyone to be able to Twitter, e-mail, or whatsapp regularly. I then decided to ask him about moving to China, and how he feels about the Chinese government having blocked Google. He told me that he had gone to France for the summer vacation and relied solely on his phone for navigation, communication, and planning. When Pim lost reception at the border, he had to depend on the little French he learned back in primary school to find his way to his hotel.
Pim has grown so dependent on his social feeds that if his smart phone were ever to run out of batteries, his friends would most likely think that something catastrophic has occurred. In fact, according to the New York Times, it seems that, “dependence on smartphones grows stronger with every new app.” Technology is advancing constantly, it seems as though every time I buy a new computer or phone, a more advanced one has already appeared to take its place. Although it is always exciting to grab the latest edition of the hottest technological device, I am starting to realize that I have become annoyingly dependent on the abilities of my electronic devices. The most disturbing part is that I have slowly turned into one of those ‘I would probably commit suicide without my phone’ people. My phone dies sometimes, mainly because I do not charge it enough. When it does, I suddenly feel ill-equipped to handle the world. This new wave of technology is dumbing the world down. I have joined the bandwagon, just as the other “73.3 million U.S. smartphone users in 2011 have,” according to the New York Times.
The students will be posting more in the coming weeks, and I will also provide a link to their blogs–which cover photography, music, being an exchange student, and general musings on the world. All in all, good reads!
–Dara Colwell (instructor, Digital Journalism)