By Dawn Cranfield
Twitter, Google Facebook; Technology Takes Over – Top 10 Reasons we may Have Been Better off Before
There is no doubt technological advancements have improved our lives in many ways; from medical advancements to the speed of doing business, technology has assisted man in performing at the top of his game.
However, when it comes to socializing, family life, and certain other life skills, technology has become a deterrent and a crutch instead of the tool it was meant to be, at times. As a whole, we have become so dependent on our electronic devices that we have collectively forgotten how to live without them.
Here are the top ten reasons we may have been better before technology took over:
1) We have forgotten how to perform even the most basic math skills – Before the explosion of computerized devices in our everyday lives, we used basic skills that we learned in elementary school and most of us were able to perform at least rudimentary computations in our heads. However, now that we have come to rely on calculators, computers, cash registers, and even our cell phones, most people cannot execute even the most primary tasks associated with mathematical calculations.
For example, I had given a $10 bill to a cashier at a fast-food restaurant; when they inadvertently entered the wrong amount into the register, they were stumped as to how to determine how much change to give me from my order totaling $7.92. When I tried to explain that my change would be $2.08 and even offered that $0.08 was the change making it $8, and two more dollars would make it $10, they appeared more confused. Eventually, the clerk had to find a calculator to conclude how much they should return to me.
2) Very few people are capable of spelling without the assistance of “Spell Check”; even then, they do not understand the difference between “their”, “there”, and “they’re” – We have become far too reliant on our fabulous word processors policing everything we write. While it was a wonderful idea in the beginning to have a program that could notice an occasional misspelled word, we have become a society that has flagrantly ignored spelling and grammar as a result.
All too often, words such as “there”, their” and “they’re” are used interchangeably without the offender ever realizing or noticing.
3) As we have become more attached to our cell phones, manners have taken a backseat to checking our email – When I was in my pre-teens, I remember reading an article in Readers Digest about the telephone (you know, the old rotary dial kind that hung on the wall and rang during dinner); two men were having a conversation on the front porch as the phone rang endlessly in the house. The visitor grew increasingly agitated as the owner of the house ignored the phone; finally, he asked the owner, “Aren’t you going to answer that?”
The owner replied, “Nope. I put that in for my convenience, not theirs.”
Today, people are so attached to their phones, emails, Facebook, Twitter, their electronic leashes; they have a tendency to forget they are sitting with a live human being who has taken the time to be there with them. Their inability to put aside their device shows a lack of manners and a disconnect from the life happening in front of them.
4) Our propensity to find a job no longer hinges on our abilities– When we searched for a job pre-Internet, we had to physically go door-to-door, fill out applications, talk to hiring personnel, and make follow-up phone calls or visits. We had to get dressed in our best clothing and look presentable, armed with the knowledge that we were working towards something.
However, today, an applicant need only sit at their computer and throw hundreds of resumes a day at jobs they may or may not qualify for. Sometimes their only criterion for being selected for a first round of interviews is whether or not their resume was pre-selected based on the word-match in the program used by human resources or the head hunting company.
Potential employees think they can sit around in their pajamas beefing up their chances by applying for every job within a 50 mile radius all within a matter of hours, whether they are qualified for the position of not.
Employers end up with far more applicants than they can handle, thus quickly vetting out potentially qualified candidates simply because there were too many on the radar.
5) We no longer rely on our memory – Before we had computers, Palm Pilots, or the ability to pull up the Internet at a moment’s notice, we had to rely on our memory for facts. If you were having a conversation about a song your remembered from your youth, or a favorite movie, it may have taken you a few moments, but eventually you were able to retrieve the information from the vast database of your mind.
Now, most people do not even spend a second trying to retrieve that data, if they even stored it there to begin with, they simply look it up. We are not training our brains to remember things in the first place now, we are simply plugging in calendar dates, reminders, alarms, and relying on our personal and handheld computers for everything.
6) We let our computers do all of our thinking for us – Just as we do not use our memories any longer, we let computers solve all of our problems for us and do not do any of our own thinking. Have a problem about what to fix for dinner? There is an app for that. Want to know what kind of cocktail to make if you have rum, orange juice, and grenadine? There is an app for that, too.
We no longer think about any of our day-to-day problems; we even let technology decide what we might want to watch on television. Instead of perusing the TV Guide, we allow a program to determine what we might want to watch based on other junk we like to watch. Who do we want to be friends with? Date? What do we want to listen to? That can all be chose for us.
7) Internet dating has taken the fun out of meeting people organically – With the rise of online dating sites, people have forgotten how to go out in public, have fun, be themselves, and meet each other in a completely organic and social way. It is as if technology has created a plastic bubble in which each of us lives and we can only communicate from behind these walls, afraid to go outside and touch one another.
Instead of being an incredible venue to draw people with like interests closer together, the Internet and dating websites have become a counter culture of sorts; some of the sites are now a very specific place to meet certain types of people. They are the antithesis of dating and socializing.
8) Entertainment has gone into a tailspin with technology – While some of the advancements with technology have been spectacular, (special effects, animation has improved dramatically) there have been some drawbacks as far as the availability and the accessibility.
Pornography that is so freely accessible has caused a stir among households that are more conservative and in some non-conservative ones where addiction seems to be an issue. The seemingly free availability to anyone (as long as they click “Yes, I am over 18) has shaped our country in a way that appears to promote promiscuity among young, unmarried people, and with a multitude of partners.
Additionally, there are so many other pornographic images freely available that you have to wonder, were these ideas always out there, or does the Internet put some of these ideas into the minds’ of the easily impressionable? The chicken or the egg concept.
There are also online video games that have been known to destroy families; they can be addictive and isolate the player from the family and other social situations. Players can become so engrossed with their characters that they spend more hours in the online fantasy and role-play situations that they almost drop out of normal society.
9) Social media accounts such as Twitter, allow everyone a voice, even if they should not have one – Just like we saw today, where stars were Tweeting about the Boston Marathon bombings and using it as a platform to promote gun control, maybe we should not all be allowed to announce to the world how idiotic we are on every subject in the world. Remember a time when we had time in our day to do things other than Tweet out what we had for breakfast, bought at the store, or to respond furiously to something somebody else was ranting about?
10) Our expectation of privacy is all but gone– First, there was MySpace, now there is Facebook (there may have been some in between that I missed); where it appeared to be an incredible idea, something went amiss. What would have been an incredible platform for sharing pictures and messages with friends and family became the subject of employee handbooks, warnings from professional work search agencies, and the subject of lawsuits over privacy issues.
I have struggled with technology over the years; I would not want to go back to sending something via regular mail instead of email, and I rely on my cell phone, but Oh… sometimes I long for the peace and quiet of an uninterrupted meal with a good friend who has impeccable manners.