Over the past 20 plus years the world has changed drastically. There has been a shift from a world that was fastened by copper cables and wires to a different world that makes it accessible any information with just a touch of the glass screened, and pocket size device. Technology affects our daily lives, saves time and opens a gate to new experiences.
How long have you been staring at the computer screen? Chances are this is not the beginning of your day on your mobile device or computer and it is very unlikely to be the end of it. Nestled among Face book updates, Twitter posts, YouTube videos describe only a few moments in your digital day. You and I are operating in what is known as ‘digital now’, a stream of time that is parallel to the present, and also in competition with it. Our modern obsession with technology is changing the way we relate to others and the way we view ourselves. The technology industry continues to innovate in overlapping waves that make connectivity, storage and information access “faster, smaller, and cheaper”.
The beginning of the 21st century is an era in which the human mind has developed into a split screen, with one eye on real space and the other staring at the electronic mirror.
Technology has changed the path of time. So many of us today have the sensation that time’s arrow is pointing everywhere and nowhere at once. This morning on a crowded bus I saw people within my immediate view, texting, talking over the cell phone, checking e-mail, listening to iPods etc. And do you know what I was doing? I was recording my observations in my laptop! We start believing that we are not fully ourselves and are not viable in the new system unless we make some sort of an electronic imprint and projection of ourselves in the virtual world. The most personal diaries are now being locked away by many, and digital medium has taken over in the form of blogs. Private lives are increasingly translated into public space, often times, turning intensely personal dramas into perplexing global phenomena. The younger, tech-savvy generation has embraced a more transparent lifestyle than older generations, and seems to have a different notion of privacy. The modern mindset has given rise to “disinhibitive effect’ on the internet and ‘Road rage’ is gradually turning into ‘Net wrath.’
Invariably every day Sangeetha, software professional is woken up by a loud Hindi Bhajan blaring from her cell phone. She flips over in her bed and stares at her cell phone to check for any missed calls or messages. She tries to sleep for some more time but the snooze wakes her up and she rushes to get ready for the day ahead of her. In addition to checking Face book, chatting and texting friends, she uses her Android to view movies and read books as well. She finds delight in taking pictures and shares them with her friends through Bluetooth. GPS comes in handy when she wants to visit a new place; Wikipedia facilitates research; Google brings the news of the entire world at her doorstep. With amazing gadgets like the iphone, tablet, ipad etc. information is just a click away. We can hardly visualize a world without technology!
A freelance writer like me cannot imagine a day without computers. I no longer write and rewrite my articles with pen and paper; instead I simply juggle ideas using the edit functions. The computer helps me to ascertain the word count and corrects the spelling and grammar in my writings if any. A great boon indeed! Skype, chat, facetime, whatsapp and call facilities keep me in touch with friends the world over and it feels like they’re living next door. There of course is the withdrawal symptom if I am unable to access my cell phone even if it be for a short while.
A youngster today would prefer downloading books from the net rather than buying them in bookshops. We see Karishma, a home maker, often checking websites to find resale of apartments in the area of her choice. Her son Arjun is not interested in playing cricket with his friends on the playground but his preference is to play it on his portable play station. Karishma talks about the transformation which has taken place during her generation. Earlier, she and her cousins looked forward to watching movies together on the DD channel. “But these days children prefer to chill out all by themselves with their numerous electronic gadgets,” comments Karishma sadly.
Those were the days when shopping used to involve planning a trip to a brick and motor store hoping that the shop carried the product you were looking for, and at the price you wanted to pay. But today consumers can shop from the comfort of their home, and find the right product at exactly the right price. With just a mouse’s click, and a pay tm or credit card, any product will be dropped off at the doorstep with hardly any effort. Retailers like Flip kart, Amazon,… make arrangements to deliver the items at the time requested by the customer, may be with little extra charges if it is to be delivered within a short period of time.
The modern day traveller’s mantra is speed and convenience. Time was when websites equipped travellers with the necessary information to enhance their travel experience. These days savvy travellers think mobile apps when they want a solution to a particular travel problem. Gone are the days when travellers updated family and friends with travel postcards. These days travellers can give a play-by-play of their holiday and update friends and family by sharing photos on FB, Instagram, Pinterest ( a visual discovery tool that people use to collect ideas for their different projects and interests ) or Twitter which many in the industry call insta-travel. It makes globetrotting easy and comfortable. Social networking supports the creation of new kinds of information and collaboration. Whatsapp is indeed marvellous, but it has its flipside too of spreading gossip and false news. We see everything from chronically ill patients sharing coping strategies to peer groups that are evolving into arbiters of pop culture.
Technology is challenging and hence sparks the brain to work to its full potential. There is this kickstarter.com which helps creative people get funds for their projects through crowd funding. On this platform, creative developers post projects seeking for funding from community; also, technology’s contribution to entertainment industry is overwhelming. Home entertainment which provides video games; visual systems that include smart televisions; and music systems can connect live to internet so that users can share what they are watching with their family and friends. Easy access and storage of music and services like iTunes allow users to purchase and download music on their iPods at a small cost and this is a win-win situation for both, the musicians and the listeners; Students now use iPads to share visual lessons and examples with peers. Individual learning without the help of tutors is also possible although for some it may not have the same effect as the physical presence of the tutor; Technology has also invented online libraries where you can buy any book or video virtually for a price and store them on your hard drive; Most hospitals have embraced modern technology with the result of which running them has become easier with less number of human errors in surgery and various other modes of treatment.
The flip side of modern technology is increased loneliness; social isolation; loss in the number of jobs; increased dependency on gadgets leading to reduction in competency and creativity; and misuse of modern weapons. People can communicate with each other miles apart from their computers and smart phones via email; face time; texting and Whatsapp of course. Though all these facilitate good and fast communication, still it takes away the personal touch of the news conveyed, which speaks a lot about the person. With retailers moving their sales online, some people believe that the personal touch of being able to talk to someone directly about the product may detract one from the shopping experience.
Several are the things which are going defunct these days for the touch phone generation .Some of them include, music systems, television sets, pen and paper, alarm clocks, watches, books, cameras… With sixth sense apps coming into the market shortly, even cell phones may be out of the lives of youngsters. Anyhow, it is our responsibility to use technology to improve our lives and not be a slave in the hands of the modern inventions, which may lead to harming both, the society and the environment at large.