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Technology Makes Our Lives Easier

Please note! This essay has been submitted by a student.

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Technology has certainly brought the world in some ways. For example, an organization can hire remote workers from another country to cut costs. He or she can communicate with them using apps and tools of all kinds (Slack, Zoom) to ensure that they are productive and efficient. Similarly, individuals all over the world can stay in touch with relatives and friends around the world through messaging apps such as Whatsapp and social media platforms such as Facebook.

Unfortunately, the ability to reach everyone in our social circle also creates a feeling of isolation for millions around the world. We might be able to text and message almost anyone that we choose but these interactions often replace actual human interactions. We also might meet up with friends less since we can catch up with their recent achievements and developments through social media.

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There’s a good chance that your boss might e-mail you instead of asking for a face-to-face meeting. Human beings all over the world might be “friends” online with thousands of people, but that doesn’t mean that they will be there for us in any real capacity. A 2016 study revealed that only five Facebook friends “count” as close friends for any given 150 friends on the network. In addition, countless companies and apps are trying to exploit the fact that we often become more dependent on social media thanks to the release of dopamine, a chemical in the human body commonly associated with “pleasure”.

In fact, the picture gets even bleaker. 60% of adults surveyed indicated that they are less social as a result of the world becoming more digital. While this might be good news for businesses eager to replace cashiers with self-checkout lanes; it is bad news for real-life interaction.

Oftentimes, we consider our digital imprint to be proof of our actual existence. While families and tribes used to rely on oral histories or photo albums – now our entire lives can be neatly compiled into one or two social media profiles that we might use the most. In fact, Facebook, which boasts over two billion monthly active users, actually gives users the option to “memorialize” their Facebook friends when they die.

The average individual checks their phone over fifty times a day. This isn’t necessarily “wrong”, as there are plenty of people who might rely on their smartphones for news, updates, financial analysis, or to catch up with social causes that they are interested in. It isn’t uncommon to see people more concerned with recording an experience rather than actually experiencing it. This phenomenon is true everywhere from music festivals to tourist attractions, to museums. It begs the question as to whether humans will eventually remember how to appreciate the moment of “now” in the short-term or long-term future.

Of course, this affects productivity, as well. You may be the CEO of an organization hoping to achieve goals, but you will have to face the fact that there will be employees that are distracted due to technology. While it might not mean that your organization fails; it certainly means a real productivity loss simply because human beings have access to a wealth of knowledge and media in their pocket.

It would be myopic to suggest that technology hasn’t vastly changed human information for the better. We can now create more data than ever, while also disseminating it quicker than ever before. A company can build a digital presence and reach markets they previously couldn’t penetrate. Even if you don’t have much money in the bank, the Internet can help you collaborate and connect with similar-minded people all over the world, and discuss ideas through posts, tweets, and forums.

We no longer have to ask for directions since there’s a good chance that our smartphone will take us where we need to go. Human beings can book hotel rooms in cities that they are visiting for the first time with a few button clicks. We can take photos of anything that happens to be around us, as well.

Bill Gates, the principal founder of Microsoft and one of the most influential businessmen in the world, has stated that we often don’t emphasize how much “easier” life has gotten thanks to technology. He points to examples such as near-free communication with friends/family and cheap GPS, stating: ‘The way the productivity figures are done isn’t very good at capturing that quality of service–type improvements.”

Cloud technology also has made it easier and more secure to store and retrieve data. This is quite an accomplishment when one considers that we once used to have to rely on collective memories, oral traditions, and written records to preserve cultures and histories. These days, information can be saved automatically and secured – which is certainly needed, considering human beings are creating more data than ever.

When we speak about “technology” today, it’s completely different about the technology from centuries before. As a result, there are so many technological advances that often have implications that we do not realize until years later. We have witnessed how social media has contributed to the Arab Spring, which has forever changed the region (and the world, as a result). Protestors were able to use social media to their advantage even as more authoritarian governments attempted to block websites and platforms.

We also understand now that technology can also be used to give governments more power than ever. A notable example is the fact that the NSA has been accessing the personal data of American citizens for years. Similarly, technology also allows China to advance a social credit system that many believe is cruel, in that it allows the Chinese government to punish and demean citizens based on a social credit score. For example, a Chinese citizen’s social credit score might fall simply due to them buying a certain amount of video games.

Technology might make life easier for people of all backgrounds and perspectives, but it also has the capability for governments and organizations to impose more control. Your employer might allow you to use the Internet while simultaneously tracking exactly how you choose to use it. While this might sound like a negative aspect of technology, technology has also created cryptocurrency, which might make money faster and easier to send across borders than ever before. The fact that Facebook is creating its own cryptocurrency is a sign that it might actually lead to mass adoption, with millions of people sending and receiving cryptocurrency instead of utilizing traditional financial institutions.

Our lives might be easier when it comes to certain tasks but they also might be more complicated than ever. Our Instagram feeds are often designed to advertise certain products in ways that target our desires and insecurities. As if that wasn’t enough, the Cambridge Analytica scandal showed that data can actually be harvested to help a United States president get elected. At the same time, we consistently are using technology to find new clients, communicate with old friends, order products/services, and express ourselves.

Many questions have yet to be answered about the way that we use technology. We can praise the technology for the fact that Netflix can recommend us the right movie, but many of us would have reservations if our identities were doxxed by someone who wanted to exact revenge on us for whatever reason. We might appreciate the fact that technology allows us to wear headphones and listen to the music that we enjoy, but hate that Instagram may actually make it harder for drug addicts to recover. No matter what your opinions are about technology – it is here, it is evolving, and we will have to wait and see how human beings react, adapt, and improve upon it in years to come. 

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