Technology: Beneficial or Harmful
Throughout the vast history of humanity, humans have always used their innovative and cognitive skills to create tools to better improve their chances at survival on this planet. This technology advancement first began in the Stone Age when man fist discovered that stone could be utilized as both a harvesting tool and hunting weapon; which gradually developed into spears, bows and arrows, and swords. And as time pressed on, one of the most important and influential inventions since the beginning of time was designed in the shape of a circle: the wheel.
However, unlike in earlier times, the evolution of technology in the past 60 years has been growing so rapidly that society has scarcely been able to keep up with it on a global scale. And due to this accelerated development of technology, accurate assessment and critical reflection on our dependency of these new technologies has been greatly hindered. So if one were to consider all the consequences and results of today’s technology objectively, could our dependency on modern day technology be viewed as positive or negative outcome?
Both sides of this argument have solid, valid claims, but do the pros outweigh the cons or are the benefits of technology not worth the potential harm it can cause to our society. As the advancement of technology drastically rises, society’s dependency for these technologies also rises, however, this correlation can prove exceedingly beneficial for the people of this era. The improvement of medical technology has been especially helpful in maintaining the health and well-being of millions of people around the world suffering from various diseases, such as cancer and heart disease.
In England alone, 30,000 doses of radiotherapy treatment per 1,000,000 people in 2005, which is a lot considering England has a population of 53. 01 million; yet this number is only estimated to increase to 54,000 doses per 1,000,000 people by 2016 (Alves 536). The growing demand for medical technology is proof that society’s dependency on technology can help save and improve the lives of many people in need. Mikael Alves, a writer featured in the scholarly journal The Lancet, further elaborates on the advancement of medical technology in the fight against heart disease.
Health technology has provided new treatment possibilities […] for example, stroke care has been transformed through a combination of CT scanning and the use of thrombolytic drugs to treat acute ischaemic strokes [a certain type of heart disease], thereby reducing death and long-term disability in affected groups” (536). Thanks to the state-of-the-art technology of CT scanning doctors can produce accurate x-ray images of specific parts of the body to help doctors easily diagnose patients and prescribe them with the proper medical treatment.
Modern technology can not only help a large scale of suffering patients, but it can also improve the quality of life for people all over the world. In the article “Moving with Communities,” Francis Asiimwe describes how a group of young volunteers from urban Uganda used solar powered laptops and cell phones as training tools for the struggling nomadic communities in rural Uganda. According to Asiimwe most of Uganda’s nomadic people, who live off their livestock, require the assistance of food aid to survive because of the increasing reduction of their livestock cause by disease, drought, and thievery.
The displaced communities, therefore, have to learn new farming techniques to become self-sufficient, and adapt to a new socio-economic situation. They designed a solar-powered information toolkit to transfer agricultural and business skills to young people from the area, in order to reduce their exclusive dependence on livestock for their livelihoods” (33). Not only does technology provide these small communities with the information needed to better improve their lives, but it is done in such a way that these communities will never have to worry about paying a single electricity bill.
However, this is not the only way technology can boost a person quality of life. In today’s hectic society many people find themselves so busy with the struggle of daily life and all the frustration that comes with it, they begin loose contact family and friends. Technology’s solution to this ever growing problem can be found on the internet on networking sights such as Facebook, CircleJournal, and Skype.
Rita Arens brings to light the results of an Australian study showing how over a ten year time frame people with a strong network of friends were more ikely to have longer lives than those with fewer close friendships (37). Another Australian study, Arens explains, is a five year study that directly links tight female friendships to higher breast cancer survival rates (38). In this second study online support groups as well as networking sites are proven to give a person a fresh and positive, new outlook on life. Contrary to the benefits of society’s heavy dependency on technology, many people believe that over the last decade and a half, modern technology has become a very insistent and dangerous distraction, especially for younger people.
In a study made by the University of Utah in 2009 the use of a cell phone while driving, either hand held or hands-free, is proven to delay a person’s reactions just as much as having a blood alcohol level of . 08 percent, which is in fact the level of the illegal intoxication behind the wheel. In the same study 5,474 people were reported to have been killed and approximately 448,000 were injured in a motor vehicle crash in the United States due to distractions involving a mobile device (“The Facts”).
These alarming statistics are evidence enough to confirm that society’s dependency on technology is so out of control it is literally causing thousands of deaths to innocent and sometimes helpless unsuspecting drivers and passengers. It is overwhelmingly sad to think that many lives can be spared if the dependency of technology were not like an addiction for many people on this earth. Further analysis displaying technology as a distraction is also verified within classrooms across the globe. In an article written by A.
Shumack Kellie, Erin Reilly, and Nik Chamberlain, these writers reveal that in 2012 59 percent of 10 and 11 year olds owned cell phones, which was up 81 percent compared to study done in 2009. In addition to this, 87 percent of these children admit to using their cell phones during class and this percentage only gets higher with the age groups (10). Despite these statistics, many people have been and still are pushing to have more technology introduced to the class rooms: including laptops and iPads.
The usage of these devices in the classroom have a high potential to serve more as a distraction then a learning tool, which may lead to lower test scores and a higher dropout rate. Another reason as to why the dependence on technology should be viewed as a negative consequence in our society is because it negatively changes our human behavior. Human beings are curious by nature and natural born theorists and thinkers, constantly trying to uncover new knowledge and insight on how the universe works, however, what if technology was squashing this mentality gone.
In today’s society of convenient and efficient technology people are always looking for the quick-fix solutions to their problems so that they can put in as little of effort as they possibly can. For instance if someone were trying to loose weight and just so happen to not have enough time or means to exercise and change their diet, all they have to do is swallow some pills or sigh up for liposuction and they can become as skinny as their heart desires. Furthermore, consider if this change in mentality was also changing the way we relate to each other in society.
Over the past decade more and more married couples are not only filing for divorce, but also filing for them in earlier years of the marriage. Society’s quest for quick-fix solutions are also carrying over to our relationships and instead of making a little effort in trying to communicate with each other, people are tending to simply get rid of the problem all together and get a divorce. And to probe even deeper perhaps the lack of communication between people in today’s global culture is directly correlated to how we communicate with each other via technology: such as texting, facebook messaging, and email.
Communication between people through these various technologies can prove rather difficult since a person does not have the ability to hear the tone or attitude of the person typing or see the facial cues and body gestures they would be able to observe if they could communicate face to face. Today’s generation of young people are experiencing less face to face communication with other then previous generations which has hindered their opportunity for proper socialization.
Although modern technology has caused some problems over the years, society’s dependence on it is not necessarily a bad thing. As Steven Hick, professor of Sociology at Carleton University, writes in his article, “On the positive side, technological change can result in new products, new markets, or increased productivity. ” With the nonstop growth of technology, several new markets and career options have opened themselves up to be explored. For example a greater demand for environmental biologists is on the rise to get rid of the world’s use of fossil fuels.
In the end, weather a person likes technology or not does not matter because it is never going away; and despite how much people may try to regulate or stop the advancement of technology society is always going to be dependent on it. The simple fact remains that society would not continue to put in so much time and money into the development of new technology if it were not meant to be used. So just as technology continues to move forward so must the world, society only needs to be more aware and careful on how it uses the new advancements.