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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

A different look at technology

Published: April 19, 2013
Section: Opinions

The progression and definition of technology have changed during the course of history, but the last couple of centuries may have seen the swiftest and most drastic shift in technology. The wheel made it easier to transport materials, which, thousands of years later, allowed air and space travel to be taken for granted. The advancement of technology has helped save lives and has changed the way people live. It is also possible that the rise of technology caused some adverse effects on people’s lives.

Technology, and the institutions that advance it, are key to perpetuating our sophisticated lifestyles. Some of these inventions make communication simpler, such as the telephone, while others, such as vaccines and immunizations, protect the sustainability and longevity of life. Humans have managed to survive for many years, even without the advancements that we see today. It may have taken longer to do the same things, but this was not previously a concern, as people lived their lives not knowing what the future would bring.

As activities of daily living such as food gathering and providing for a household began to require less time to complete, a surplus of time existed that the individual sought to fill. To fill the unoccupied time, further technologies and inventions came to light. The mental and physical output of the past was dedicated to survival, but today we possess freedom that liberates us from the anxiety that used to plague our choices. The ability to travel and connect distant places brought more options. The small insular world that individuals had lived through for generations became exponentially larger. Isolated communities were forced to join together to form a larger society.

With the influx of changes came stress and anxiety for those in new circumstances. Life was once based on the routine and ignorance was bliss. The rise of inventions, however, brought the rise of competing inventions, which led to consumerism. After having shopped at only one location for goods, people now had the option to shop at many stores and each sold different products. Now, not only did they have choices about where to shop and what to buy, but they could also choose specifically what type of product to buy. In supermarkets and megastores, there are now often dozens of brands that sell the same product.

The ease of communication has also propelled the necessity for choices to be made as our circles of correspondence have grown vastly. Instead of being very close to one’s own immediate family and neighboring friends, the connection between people has been diluted throughout the dozens, hundreds or thousands of people with whom we each communicate. This has been compounded by the parallel spike of influence and accessibility of the media, including the popularity of social media. We constantly receive contradictory and incompatible viewpoints because we are exposed to so many ideas from the newfound ease of communication. As people are more easily able to correspond with one another regardless of geographic distance, they are also able to feel a greater connection to some people, despite the overall connection being diluted among many contacts. As one becomes closer to others, that person may simultaneously feel more distant from others. The apparent closeness that exists may be artificial as communication is taken for granted.

New technology and advancements have changed the manner in which we live. The world has become much more interdependent but has also brought with it the intensification of violence and prejudice. We are all bombarded with more choices per day than we realize, and we face many dilemmas and stresses because of these options. Despite saving countless lives and creating more tolerable existences for many, technology has complicated the simplicity and satisfaction of life. It is not that technology should never be utilized and choices should not present themselves, but it seems as if the rise of each can lead to uneasiness and anxiety among many.