Have advances in technology hurt or helped us?

With the explosion of advances in modern technology, from video game consoles, television, and smart phones, many people can’t imagine a world that was not drowned in tech. However, have all of these advancements put us on the track for better or worse? An interview conducted with 80-year-old James Donaldson gives a unique perspective on how much society has changed. 

Modern technology is undeniably convenient. This relates to the speed with which you can do almost anything, from shopping, direct deposit, making a phone-call, and even a quick dictionary check. In his interview, Mr. Donaldson stated that these devices weren’t around when he was growing up, and they are both entertaining and useful. 

As someone of a much younger generation, I was genuinely shocked to realize just how many steps have been made with technological advances. Today we can talk to who we want to, when we want to, and where we want to. However, in the interview with Mr. Donaldson, I learned just how different it was to make a phone call. Donaldson stated, “When I had a phone when I was a kid we had a family phone. Our number was 146R and on that line, we had a neighbor who was also on the same line. So, if you picked up the phone, you may be talking to two other people that were having a conversation whereas today that isn’t true.”  

However, with every advancement, there is risk and reward. 

Modern technology has and can cause harm on the way we interact, our health, and our safety. As Mr. Donaldson stated, “The harm of advanced technology is in vogue today, when you read the papers, watch the news, the television, and you observe what’s going on with North Korea, the U.S., politics, the advances of atomic horrific weapons which can destroy the Earth. That’s not all positive.” 

For example, the widespread popularity of social media and other platforms to communicate with other people seems to have taken a toll on interactions people are making. According to Mr. Donaldson, these various convenient ways of shopping, depositing, and even ordering food have taken away the aspect of human contact in such tasks. He then explained how these devices seemingly have made people less outgoing than they were just a generation or two ago, because they are not forced into situations where they must talk. When Donaldson was asked if he felt that societal behaviors have changed, he said he believes people have become less outgoing. He stated that he knew every family on his street, and that many people can’t even name the family next door. As Donaldson said in the interview, “There is a thing called Facebook today and I think I’ve told you before, if you want to face me it’s face to face. It’s human aspect and human contact, not pushing buttons.” 

Past-times are things which have also been greatly influenced by the advances of modern technology. Donaldson stated as a kid in the ’40s and ’50s, time would be spent outside all day hiking through the woods, swinging on branches, throwing a football, and playing kick-the-can. Today, many popular past-times for kids include watching videos on massive content sharing sites like YouTube, playing video game consoles, and catching up with a TV show on Netflix. However, Donaldson feels that the hours spent on Xbox, television, and games have had an adverse effect on kids today. This adverse affect being that kids have begun to be too reliant on technology for entertainment, in turn making them less active.  Mr. Donaldson stated “Today a lot of kids wake up at 9:00 in the morning and are immediately on Xbox or whatever.” 

Finally, I wanted to ask if he looked fondly upon the future as technology continues to develop. He stated that we can’t fear for the future, we must use whatever advances are available, and make sure the people in charge of managing it are also looking out for “the welfare of mankind.” 

As years pass by, society is bound to change. Sometimes, change has to be taken with the good and the bad.