Buzz. Beep! Bleep. Ring! Ring! Day in and day out these are the sounds that demand our time, focus, and more often than not, act as a distraction. Yet, it’s hard to imagine life without the constant soundtrack of emails, phone calls, news updates, social media, and so much more. But do you realize that personal computers were not feasible for American citizens until around 1971? And the laptop itself, or “personal portable computer” was first seen only in the 1980s. The first “mobile phone” appeared in 1973; and it was only eight years ago that the first iPhone emerged! The Internet itself didn’t have much use for everyday citizens until the 1990s and the concept of social media is fairly new as well with Facebook surfacing in 2004, Twitter in 2006, and Instagram in 2010. The rate at which our ways of receiving and communicating information has changed in the past several decades has been mind-blowing. Try to go a day without using your phone, laptop, or tablet. You’ll probably fail within the first few seconds of your day with your morning alarm buzzing on one of your devices! Look how fast we have let technology consume our lives.
It is not just our day-to-day routines that have become commandeered by technology, but also our news sources. Since we are all constantly on our devices, we now have our news programs, breaking news updates, and even our baseball stats streamed directly to our phones, laptops, and tablets. The whole idea is that everything is at the tip of our fingers 24/7 so we don’t miss anything and are as efficient as possible. The access is definitely already here and improving daily but the question is, is it changing how we interact with others? When we share interesting stories on our Facebook wall, are we only talking about these topics online and leaving mindless chatter for face-to-face interaction? Or are we still having intellectual conversations when we go out to coffee with our friends and challenging ourselves to develop our own opinions on world issues? As members of the 21st Century I think we have a challenge ahead of us- a challenge to find a pleasant balance. With technology and media continuing to fine-tune themselves every day, we must decide whether we will let them take over our lives and let them rule us or if we will use them as tools and continue to live as sociable, intelligent members of society. I would hope we choose the latter.