No matter how we feel about technology, the fact of the matter is that we use it. You probably don’t realize how many times a day you check your phone for texts, or use the Internet to Google something or check your email. If you were to attempt to count you would probably lose track. Is this a bad thing? As a society, we are constantly doing these things—texting, emailing, checking our phones, looking things up on our computers; technology has become a part of us. In this day and age it is almost essential. We use computers for work, school, research, and communicating with others; the list goes on and on. Technology has become a necessity in our global economy. We use it everyday, whether it is for school, work, or personal use. Cell phones have become one of our main sources of communication, enabling us to speak to others at any time. We use technology every single day without even thinking about it.
But what impact does this have on our society? There are both positive and negative effects. Social media helps businesses and social networks increase communication globally. New opportunities spread through the sharing of ideas online. It is easy to get help on the Internet, and the Internet has become an efficient way to unite people behind the same causes. Still, there are negative effects. Technology often leads to a sort of addiction, a perpetual laziness. Too much use of technology leads to a lack of concentration and a shorter attention span. Cyberbullying is a prevalent issue in society now, as is the accidental sharing of too much information. Social networks also have a way of creating a false sense of connection, as people are not always who they say they are. The impact media has on society is indisputable, whether it is positive or negative. Still, it is important to recognize both the negatives and the positives of technology.
Technology and social networking sites have advanced the business world. The role media plays in increasing communication allows businesses to communicate with other companies worldwide, while also spreading advertising and gaining support. An article from ABC News written by Jon Swartz quotes Ross Mayfield, co-founder of a business software called Socialtext, who has seen first hand the impact social networking has on businesses: “The spread of the workforce has put a premium on tech tools that let people collaborate, learn, and share info from different parts of the world.” He cites statistics that prove 85% of employees have connections with people in other offices. Technology has thus lead to a spread of business and ideas. Technology helps increase business productivity, as online advertising and social media allow companies to extend their messages worldwide almost instantly. Sites like LinkedIn unite businesspeople. Social media has impacted and helped the business industry in many ways, and has allowed for a massive surge in communication.
Access to the Internet creates many new opportunities within itself. Not only does technology allow for the advancement of businesses, it also opens many opportunities in essentially every other field as well. An opportunity the Internet has created is the YouTuber. YouTube has created a new world in which anyone can post videos. This has led to popular viral videos, as well as jobs making YouTube videos. According to the Business Insider, the highest paid YouTuber makes 8.47 million dollars per year, strictly by making videos. Famous, sponsored YouTubers get paid per view, and are often paid to advertise products and media. Whether it is making videos about gaming, makeup, or entertainment, people are now able to make a career out of doing what they love online. Social media has allowed for these opportunities. Simply posting videos sharing what they love, these individuals have launched successful careers. Another way in which the Internet has launched careers is the new concept of “blog to book.” According to LifeHack.org, to get a book contract “all you need is a blog.” This has become a new trend, in which it is easy to publish a book simply by writing and promoting your blog. This blog will then turn into your book, and once you get an agent it is allegedly easy to get a contract. Being a published author is so much simpler with the Internet; it has opened a world of opportunity, not only for existing jobs and businesses, but also for newly created jobs that did not exist before.
Media has had a huge impact on education as well. According to the U.S. Department of Education, technology has created many alternative ways of learning. Full-time online schools and other opportunities to learn online have created many new opportunities. Blended learning allows for learning both in person and online. Not only has technology created new ways of spreading education, it also enhances education. Learning resources are easily accessible on the Internet, and it is now easier for students to communicate with each other and their teachers. The Internet also allows for online gradebooks, making students’ access to their grades and how they are doing in their classes much simpler. The Internet allows students to ensure they are caught up on their schoolwork and grades, and is therefore extremely helpful.
On the other hand, there are negative aspects of technology as well. Have you ever counted how many times you check your phone per day? Probably not. Have you ever texted someone instead of calling or speaking in person because you were too lazy to do so? Probably yes. We no longer need to go out to obtain information; it is right at our fingertips, quite literally. We do not have to go to libraries anymore to obtain information: we can simply Google it and find exactly what we need. It seems almost more appropriate for schools to teach students how to work with and obtain information rather than how to memorize facts, as the day and age in which we actually had to know information is long gone. An article on Lifehack by Dominique Jackson titled “Has Technology Made us Lazy and Dependent?” discusses all of the things technology provides to us—all of the things that make our world lazier and lazier. There is no longer a need to leave the house for entertainment: we can Google anything, shop online rather than in stores, and even purchase groceries online. We can go to school online, order food online; pretty soon there won’t even be a need to leave the house anymore. Technology, in this sense, makes us lazier.
Technology often leads to a lack of concentration as well. This comes from a variety of different things. There are new apps now that track how many times you open your phone each day. An article by Sarah Perez on TechCrunch quotes Alex Tew, who says using “Checky,” an app that tells you how many times you look at your phone, has opened his eyes. He checks his phone over 100 times a day and now is trying to make a goal to keep it under 100. 100 times is a lot. The fact that there is constantly new news happening, whether on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Instagram, news sites, or email, keeps people feeling that they should be checking their phone to stay on top of things. It is also important to take into account the notifications people get on their phones. Texts, emails, weather updates, news updates, calls, tweets, likes on Instagram and Facebook—when your phone buzzes there is often a temptation to check it. This, in a sense, leads to a lack of concentration. If you are bored or tired of what you’re doing, you can simply check your phone or your computer. It’s tempting.
The Internet also opens a range of opportunities for bad things to happen. Cyberbullying, “catfishing,” and releasing too much information to the wrong people all happen online. Anonymous sites like Ask.fm that allow you to post anonymously to people are recipes for cyberbullying. People use Facebook and Twitter to publicly humiliate others via the Internet, hiding behind their screens rather than being direct. “Catfish” is a term that is used to describe someone who fakes being someone else online. This happens everywhere. MTV actually has a show called Catfish, which investigates people who are in online relationships with people they do not know. Sadly, when they finally obtain enough information to contact the Catfish and actually meet up with them, they are frequently not who they said they were. This is terrifying. These people cannot be trusted, and if your information gets into the wrong hands it could be publicly released online for all to see.
Social media can be grueling. Seeing posts from something you were not invited to, seeing all of the cool things other people are doing that you aren’t, looking at all of the successes and cool lifestyles going on around you can be rough. An article on DailyMail by Alex Greig focuses on Facebook and its ability to “undermine well-being and increase loneliness.” The article cites a study by University of Michigan psychologist Ethan Kross. The study texted 82 participants a survey five times a day for two weeks asking them how their social interactions were going, how they felt overall, and what kind of use they were making of Facebook. The study found that the more people used Facebook, the worse they felt about themselves. Looking at Facebook created a feeling of isolation for the people in the study, and made them feel badly about themselves. Social media is definitely capable of having this impact, and making people feel badly about their lives. In general, it also decreases face-to-face and voice-to-voice interactions. Whereas once you may have had to call someone or go speak in person to communicate, you can now shoot a text, Facebook message, Twitter DM, or email. This has led to less and less need for interaction in person. If technology continues to develop the way it is going now, in ten years we won’t ever have to leave the house or speak in person to anyone.
Technology has a lot to offer, both good and bad. There are many positive assets, as well as negatives. While it is inarguable that technology is a huge part of our society today, there are still some drawbacks and flaws to consider. In general, however, it seems as if the benefits outweigh the negatives. Technology has advanced our society in many ways. Think about it: if technology was removed from our lives, they would be propelled decades backwards. Technology has become essential, whether we like it or not. However, it is important that we recognize both the positives and the negatives of technology in order to further progress as a society.