Like so many others, I find that technology is so integral to my life that I can hardly conceive of its not being available to me. I refer to communication and Internet technology here, which has become a fixture in virtually all modern living. As the advances have occurred, they have generated a greater dependence on the devices and accesses themselves, and this in turn creates cultures in which a lack of the technology hopelessly distances an individual from the processes of living. I, like all those around me, rely on this technology to facilitate virtually every ambition or pursuit, from commerce to socializing.
Thanks to cells, smart phones, and laptops, we are all “connected,” and this presents a wide variety of advantages. To begin with, former limitations of time and space no longer apply. I can call and interact with almost anyone and in any location, and this enables me to expand my personal and professional lives in limitless ways. Regarding the former, social networking allows me to maintain casual relationships with friends, introduce me to new acquaintances, and help me find and contact people in my life from the past. Aside from the actual interactions, the sites also provide me with a personal “forum”; I can express views and share images to hundreds, which goes to a general sense of involvement in the world around me and a confidence in my role within it. In more pragmatic terms, social sites, email, and the cell phone enable me to monitor relationships when there may be issues. If a family member or friend is in trouble, for instance, I am as aware of the ongoing situation as their own involvement with the technology permits.
Another immense advantage to modern technology is the obvious one of information access. While I maintain a sense of what Internet sources may be trusted and which are doubtful, I am nonetheless equipped to delve into any subject as deeply as I like. This ranges from an immediate checking of the definition of a word to an in-depth research on the religious motivations of the Crusades. Then, I am able to conduct virtually all commercial and financial activities online. There is no need to visit a bank, or even a department store, and I can achieve my goals in these areas in very short spaces of time. Similarly, any pursuit I have in mind regarding my education or a possible job is made equally easy. Life is not lived through the Internet, but all the processes and avenues of it are fully available in today’s world.
All of these advantages noted, I must also note how this same universality of modern technology occasionally detracts from my life. In plain terms, as virtually everyone anticipates having access to others, privacy and isolation are subject to intrusion. It is increasingly felt, in my estimation, that unlimited access potential translates to many as a lack of restrictions. There is a greatly lessened sense of considering another’s situation at any time, so calls and contact are made indiscriminately. I have the ability to turn off devices and effectively cut myself off from approaches, but the efforts still exist and intrude. This goes to my feeling that we are surrendering too much in embracing the benefits of communication today. Boundaries, in plain terms, are blurred or no longer exist. I am as well concerned that I am guilty of the same behavior. It is difficult to express, but I believe something valuable is lost when technology renders interaction so easy.
Added to this disadvantage is the inevitable one of being inundated by media, opinions, and information. Again, we have control, but we cannot actually control what will adversely affect us when we go online to merely exchange a social network message. Technology essentially bombards us with personal, commercial, and cultural presentations. I believe this ironically creates a desire to be removed from the entire arena. I know from my own experience that, even as I rely on technology, the sheer overwhelming presence of what it brings to me can be an extreme annoyance.