In recent years, bad press has countered the promise of technology. If it’s any comfort, the press viewed the early telephone with suspicion. It also warned about the dangers of the first colored television. Today the press shows us pictures of teenagers spending more time texting than talking. We are all too familiar with cyberbullying. We are aware of the widespread use of pornography. And we understand the disruptive nature of digital addiction on homework and sports.
Yet there is another side to this whole technology thing. It is bringing families together and making life easier. It’s now easier for people to stay connected when time or distance separates them.
Technology is helping us improve communication. It is helping enhance our happiness and wellbeing. It is helping us get the help we need when we need it. It is helping make us more positive. And it is helping us improve our education.
Let us take a closer look at all these benefits seldom mentioned in the mainstream media.
Can technology, contrary to the media’s opinion, create a stronger family bond?
An article in The Guardian, Is Technology Helping Families Communicate or Holding Them Back, offers this illuminating reminder:
“Indeed, it’s clear that some technology can encourage stronger emotional connections within families. If you’re in different countries, you don’t have to wait for weeks for a letter to arrive, or rack up gigantic phone bills – you can just connect via Skype or FaceTime.”
It’s also a good way for families separated by schedules to stay in touch during the day. A working mother knows when to pick up her daughter from a ballet class with a simple text message. A father tied up in the office can inform his wife not to expect him for dinner.
It’s easier now for parents to stay connected to their children when separated. It’s easier for grandparents to spend digital time with their distant grandchildren. There are many instances when childhood friends find each other as adults through Facebook.
Get Help When We Need It
Before technology, it was difficult to find people to help you out if you were stuck. If you didn’t know anybody who could help you out, then there was nothing you could do about it. Today, if you need assistance on a work-related project, you can outsource the work to services such as Fiverr, a global online marketplace designed specifically for outsourcing jobs and tasks. In addition, if you need help with yard work, you can find someone on TaskRabbit, an online marketplace to outsource household errands to people in your community. If you need to move out of your apartment, but don’t know anyone with a truck, you’re not stuck. Pikkup is the Uber for moving, and provides you with people who can help with the heavy lifting and transportation.
Make Us More Positive
Loneliness is an increasing phenomenon of modern life. Family and friends have scattered far and wide. The megapolis has replaced the village. Millions of people feel lonely as they juggle the demands of their busy metropolitan life. This is where social media can give you instant access to your friends and put you in a positive mood. A chat on Skype can comfort you. Sharing funny cat pictures on Facebook can amuse you. Hanging out in a forum of like-minded people can make you feel part of humanity again.
Expand Our Education
Yes, its true there is a lot of distraction on the Internet. YouTube is full of people ranting about their pet peeves. Your email is often inundated with messages urging you to buy something immediately. Your favorite search engine or blog has plenty of advertising link bait. And your social media is often a place where activists like to shock you with the latest social menace.
Still, there is another side to the Internet.
You can visit blogs written by experts that educate you about things that you need to do better in life. If you want to improve your business, you can find many informative business blogs.
You can solve almost any kind of problem by just doing a Google search to find the information you need. For instance, what should you do if you have an engineering problem? You can look up “The Dartmouth/Thayer approach to engineering problem solving.”
Then, of course, there is MOOC—Massive Online Open Courses. These allow you to take free classes from Ivy League schools.
Elearningindustry.com summarizes the remarkable benefits of MOOC:
“Considering the growing variety of education and professional training options available online, modern students and life-long learners certainly have a range of opportunities to improve their career prospects. The highest education standards, constant availability, as well as the convenient course design make MOOCs a favorite choice of global professionals.”
Technology: A Double Edged Sword
The press is not wrong when it warns us about many of the dangers of technology. But this is only one side of the equation. When you reflect on it, technology can also do us a world of good. We now enjoy many new practical and social experiences we could never have imagined.