I have a pretty firm love/hate relationship with technology. On the one side, I owe my survival to technology. Just to be clear, the term “technology” does not simply mean electronic devices. Strange how most people automatically jump to that. Technology means the sum and application of science, for a specific, practical purpose. By that definition, everything from my insulin pump and glucometer, all the way to the lancets used to test my blood, are a result of the practical application of technology.
Outside of the Diabetic realm, I’m also somewhat of a slave to modern technology. I enjoy and use my laptop and smartphone to the same degree as much as other people, and even my coffee maker is the result of technology, the likes of which I usually fail to realize until the power goes out for an extended period. It’s then and only then that one truly comes to realize that we live our daily lives through the use of modern technology.
Technology has brought us far, and even more so in the past hundred years. Especially with the invention of the microchip in the late 1950’s and subsequently, the creation of the central processing unit in the early 1970’s. When you read about the development and advancement of technology, it seems as though we’ve grown in leaps and bounds. But as with all things in life, there must be a balance. And for all the positive, there can and must be some negative. Such is the nature of life…
As such, I’ve taken the time to think about some of the more negative aspects of technology. With that in mind and remembering that this is simply an opinion-based post, here are my top 5 ways that technology has made things worse:
- Loss Of Privacy: The Internet is a wonderful thing. Personally, I’m addicted to information and learning, and have been a fan of having the world’s information at my fingertips. I’m of a generation that got to see some of the original iterations of the World Wide Web, from the painful screeching sounds of dial-up to the wonder and immediacy of high-speed. But with the access to the world’s information comes a price. Most technology, including your smart devices, laptops, even some vehicles, track you whereabouts, your search trends and your online preferences (some of which I assume you’d rather keep private). And given that the average household no longer maintains a landline and carries cell phones everywhere, there’s no getting away from potential callers who are trying to reach you. Many long for the days that one could leave one’s house and be out of contact until they reached their destination. Simpler days…;
- Lack Of Customer Service: I recently had an experience where I tried to call into a company for a specific services I was trying to obtain. I was greeted by an automated representative who responded and directed my call based on my responses. Much like you would have seen on television or in movies, I had to repeat myself numerous times, even when I finally lost patience and asked for a human representative. Automation is a negative for most aspects of society. it saves money for big corporations, but takes jobs away from living people and affects the economy accordingly. Which brings me to my next point…;
- Loss Of Employment: As I mentioned above, job automation costs people jobs. It doesn’t help that it’s so damned handy, in some instances. For example, certain fast food chains have ordering kiosks where you can place your order on a touch screen and pay by debit or credit card. Then, your only interaction with an actual human being is to grab your bag and go. It’s reduced such places to only one cashier as opposed to half a dozen. Job loss in such instances is unavoidable, when you can pay for the hardware and technology once, then simply maintain it. It removes the necessity for human resources, staff retention and training. It certainly seems appealing from an employer’s standpoint, but from an actual economic and employment standpoint, it’s a devastating blow;
- It Creates Dependence: As I mentioned in the opening paragraphs, we don’t realize just how much we depend on our technology until we’re found without it for a period of time. I’m reminded of this fact during a power outage we had, last February. The power was out for nearly nineteen hours. During that time, we found ourselves unable to do even the most basic of things. Make coffee, cook food, watch shows to pass time… We read books and stayed bundled up for warmth. We smartened up and made sandwiches and nibbled on finger foods, but we recognized that given the depth of winter, we were totally unprepared for an extended period without power. The eventual cooling of the house would have become dangerous. Although most people don’t think on it, we depend on technology in our daily lives more than we believe; and
- It’s Crippling Our Ability To Communicate: Communication is a kept skill. The less you use it, the harder it becomes to return to it. The use of electronic devices and smart phones has reduced/eliminated our ability to talk to each other in a normal manner. I’m sure you all know some of the situations that take place on social media. A person who would generally keep their heads down and scarcely say a word in public, suddenly becomes an outspoken, belligerent and even combative person. While some may view this as “developing” a person’s ability to communicate, one cannot effectively do so through the relative safety of a keyboard. If you walk down the street, you’ll undoubtedly see dozens of people going about their day with their eyes down, staring at a screen. Such has become the way of the world…
Technology can be wonderful and has provided more than we could have ever imagined. And I’m sure that as our technology continues to advance, we’ll continue to advance with it. But the nature of life and universe tells us that for every positive, there is always a negative. As long as we can keep an eye and acknowledge the negatives and take efforts not to be overwhelmed by them, we can certainly benefit and enjoy the positives. ☯