Friend or Foe? Or Both?

I was recently out with a couple of friends and I asked the question, “What will life be like for our generation 25 years from now?”  There were some quick mental calculations going on as we all figured out how old we would be, and how old our kids might be if we had any.  They shared their thoughts and then inquired about mine. That’s when I summarized my concerns about Technology and I’ll go into more depth here.

Technology – it’s something that younger generations can’t imagine living without. Those of us who were born in the 80’s are probably dependent on it by choice, but the generations after us are fed, entertained, and taught by it. Think about it – with a few clicks of the mouse just about anyone can access everything about you: your name, age, SS #, your interests, hobbies, profession, approximate salary, the cost of your home, even a picture of your driveway! You can go a year without handling any cash since bills can be paid online and your purchases made the same way. Before too long, you might not even have to enter a grocery store, as you may be able to make your purchases online and have them delivered to your doorstep.

Great? Maybe. Think of all the pollution that is elimanted by people socializing, shopping, and working from home. The convenience is out-of -this- world, as everything we need is just a button-click away. The choices are endless because technology allows our purchases to be personalized just for us. The world has become smaller as from our couches we chat with people all around the world. Distance has been scaled down to fit a computer screen.

The cost? High. We may be limiting environmental pollution by using less transporation and less paper for mail, but moral pollution is also a mere mouse-click away. Pornography can be accessed by a slip of a key in Google Search and marriages can end in a chatroom. Autonomy can disappear as we allow convenience to erase caution and privacy is a few years away from history. I haven’t even begun to touch on the consequences technology will have on the interpersonal skills of our children (that is for another blog).

So what about Facebook, Twitter, blogs, Ipods, Ipads, electronic transactions, Amazon, chatrooms, webcams, Droids, Ebay, and the myriads of other things I don’t even know about? Are they truly moving us forward or are they actually taking us back to the future?

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About wordvessel

Aloha! Thank you for visiting the Weeklythoughtexhange. I hope you enjoy this healthy exchange of ideas and thoughts. I am a middle school language arts teacher and relish active discussion, frequent reading, writing for leisure and growth, and immersion in new ideas and thoughts. Some of my favorite pastimes include being outdoors with family, friends and pets, traveling the world and country, and embarking on new adventures wherever they happen to find me - in my own backyard or on the other side of the Pacific Ocean.
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3 Responses to Friend or Foe? Or Both?

  1. Debbie Tobler says:

    From your generation, go back one more. You see clearer than the ones after you, I likely see more than even yours does. I know what it was like before where we are today. You did point out some good points, but I am aware of many additional “not so good ones”…I see people more interested in communicating with the “invisible” person in the phone, vs their little child in the grocery cart. I see the young person having their wires in their ears and never hearing their neighbor say “good morning, have a great day.” (Maybe it would have been a slight burden lifter?). It kind of seems we are losing the visible/tangable for the imagined/escape.
    Besides these concerns there are those of losing our personal privacy from uncle sam…and others uninvited, but maybe that will be in another visit.

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  2. Zach says:

    Great post Shelby!
    This is a very interesting topic to me because I was born in the late 80’s and there are very few memories that I have without using stuff from the tech world. I was around the age of ten when our family got our first computer. In just 12 years we went from this old computer and huge cell phones to things such as the iphone where not only is it a phone but it can be used to surf the web all from the palm of your hand. Technology changes so fast that you are advised to buy a new computer at LEAST every 3 years. Not because it wont work anymore but because all of the applications are changing so rapidly that new software wont be compatible with your 3 year old laptop.

    Now…part of me says that tech IS slowing this generation of today down and the other side of me says its not. When I speak to people like my grandparents they really had to work for what they have. During school there were no calculators to figure out equations with and they certainly didn’t have Google to help them with research papers. When I look back at pictures of my grandpa out in Nebraska walking to school barefoot, and 8 years later graduation from college and yet still moving forward to get his PHD it makes me proud to come from such a hard working generation. There was no using technology to make things easier for them; all they had was there determination and vision for what they wanted out of life. When you grow up like that, it makes you appreciate things more, where as today I find myself taking many things for granted. So in a way, it does slow us down by having everything just a click away, because if certain items were to disappear tomorrow many of us couldn’t function, including myself.

    BUT…my stronger argument is that technology is definitely a blessing. So many things that the generations behind us couldn’t even dream about are coming into existence today. Have you ever hear of the saying “work smarter not harder”? I always picture a guy moving a ton of logs from one place to another by hand and all along a pickup truck is sitting right there. Why not use what you have to make it easier? It will allow you to get more done in a day, and it doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice your good work ethic.

    Now…of course technology makes it easier to cheat in school along with many other things that will hurt you in the long run, but if you have a good head on your shoulders you can use all of these new and exciting things to better yourself and make you even more productive than before.

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    • wordvessel says:

      You brought up some excellent points. The example of your grandfather in Nebraska is what causes me to look with wistfulness upon the techno-dependent generation that is coming after us. The generation that you and I belong to probably could get by without it if we absolutely had to. But I have the sense that the generation that I am currently teaching could not. That concerns me.
      Technological skill is by no means easy to come by. For myself, I can do quite a bit, but not nearly as much as some of my students can. However, the ability to work with our hands and think without the aid of calculators or Google is also a valuable skill that is quickly disappearing.
      I had the phrase “Work smarter not harder” drilled into my head by one of my university professors and I am passing it on to my middle school students. Quite frankly, it is not the technology that concerns me but the willingness to succumb to its control that does. How can we achieve the proverbial “happy medium?” What do you think?

      Like

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