It is now hard to imagine our daily life with no technology. From the beginning of our day to the end, we are surrounded by all kinds of technology such as an alarm clock, TV, a stove or a toaster, the car that we ride to school or work, and our mini-computers, smartphones, in our hands. Many people in big cities might be using buses or subways to go from home to work and vice versa which are also other forms of technology. We see computers almost everywhere including at school, work, and home. And as these inventions have enriched our lives by being convenient and efficient, they also have disadvantages that threaten our health and safety.
As mentioned earlier, especially here in Southern California, vehicles are a big part of our lives. Most families own at least two cars and use them daily. It is not rare to see freeways being full of cars moving slow or even not moving at all. Not only do we see cars, but we also see buses on the roads, subways in big cities, trains transporting both hundreds of people and goods, big ships crossing the oceans, and airplanes in the sky. We can almost say that we see our transportation advancement at everywhere we look; on the ground, underground, on the water, and even in the sky.
Advancement in transportation has brought us easier ways to move from one place to the other. Now it only takes four to five hours of flight from Los Angeles to Washington D.C. which used to take some months of riding on a horse or some days on a train or car. Karehka Ramley, who wrote an article called “Modern Technology Advantages and Disadvantages,” agrees that one of the advantages of modern technology is the convenience of traveling which enables him to travel a 10 mile distance within a few minutes of hours using electric trains or airplanes. As transportation technology developed, our economy expanded. According to the United States Department of Transportation, “In 2002, transportation-related goods and services accounted for more than 10 percent—over $1 trillion—of U.S. Gross Domestic Product,” and “The for-hire transportation service industries alone, not including the value of transportation equipment, fuels, and other material inputs, and the value of the in-house transportation services provided by nontransportation industries for their own use, contributed $306 billion to the U.S. GDP in 2001” (Economic Impact on Transportation). As we can see from data, technical advancement in transportation not only allows us to move faster, but also it brings positive effects on our economy.
Despite all of its advantages, new transportation system has caused worse air pollution which is directly related to our health. “In 2013, transportation contributed more than half of the carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxides, and almost a quarter of the hydrocarbons emitted into our air,” says the UCSUSA website. The website also claims that transportation is the largest single source of air pollution in the United States. There are two kinds of air pollution that cars and trucks cause; one is called the primary pollution and the other is called the secondary pollution. The primary pollution is emitted directly into the atmosphere while the secondary pollution is caused by chemical reactions that happen after all the pollutants are emitted to the environment. Among the major pollutants from motor vehicles is carbon monoxide which is known to block oxygen from vital organs such as the brain and heart when inhaled, and carbon monoxide has bigger effects on fetuses, newborn children, and people with chronic illnesses (Cars, Trucks, and Air Pollution). As long as we continue to gladly use our current transportation system, we will have to suffer from air pollution which gets worse and worse each day.
When it comes to technology, it is impossible for us to forget about smartphones which did not even exist fifteen years ago. I remember getting my first cell phone in fourth grade, then there was the invention of touch screens, then suddenly something called a smartphone came up when I was around fourteen years old or so. Within less than three years, cell phones have evolved dramatically. When I first got my cell phone, there was a limit on how many letters I can use for each text message and I was overcharged if I sent more messages in that month than I previously promised. Using the Internet on the phone while walking took too much time and it was costly, so I had to keep pushing on the cancel button if I accidentally had hit the Internet button on my phone. Children born after 2005 or so would not know this struggle nor would they have or understand this kind of memory.
Now that we have our smartphones, we can access the Internet wherever we are. With the Wifi connection, it’s even free to use the Internet on our phones. Back in 2008, cell phones were really for text messaging and calling, but in 2016, smartphones are so permeated in our daily life that we do not even notice that we are texting and calling less than we do other stuff on our phones. It’s even hard to come up with things that we cannot do with our phones; we can search up articles, watch TV or a video, listen to the radio or music, and study. There is no limit on how many letters or words we can use for each text, nor is there delay when accessing the Internet. We have countless options of communicating through the phone including using the applications like Skype or Facebook, and since we can type an essay and save it on our phones, we don’t have to carry heavy laptops everywhere.
Before we submerge in our love towards smartphones too much, let us step back and look at their negative effects to decide whether or not we should only appreciate them. While smartphone apps can be useful in building relationships as the author of “I Had a Nice Time with You Tonight. On the App,” Jenna Wortham, agreed, too many messaging apps can lead people to avoid calling which is a more sincere way to show care like Sherry Turkle, the author of “No Need to Call” has experienced. According to Turkle, some people seem to avoid instant calling to gain control over time and emotional exposure which seems helpful, but on the other hand, can make people unable to deal with stress strongly and keep avoiding the problem instead of facing it. She also points out that people are trying to hide behind words, and present themselves as they which to be seen. She says, “We work so hard to give expressive voices to our robots but are content not to use our own” (388). I believe we should rethink about “hiding behind letters” and losing our own voice and decide whether or not we are abusing technology and smartphones.
With the invention of smartphones, a totally new problem called smartphone addiction came up. According to the article “The Truth about Smartphone Addiction,” a TIME survey done on 4,700 people in eight countries in 2012 revealed “a third of the respondents admitted that being without their mobile device for even short periods leaves them feeling anxious; In a 2012 UK study by SecurEnvoy, 67% of respondents reported being afraid of losing their mobile phone or being without their phone, up from 53 percent in 2008.” From the same survey done in the United Kingdom, it was found that the overwhelming majority of the respondents carry their phone everywhere with them. The situation in the United States does not differ much than situations of other countries. According to the article, above 90% of US college students use a cell phone and some of them check their device if it has not been operated in the last five minutes, and “young adults check their phone an average of 60 times per day.” The more people are exposed to the smartphones the higher the possibility is that they will be addicted to their phones, and smartphone addiction causes from minor health problems such as decreased visual acuity to bigger ones like psychological disorders. From the beginning of the history of smartphones until now, the smartphone addiction problem has becoming worse but so common that it does not draw much of our attention any more, and I feel like we are becoming senseless to problems that technology has brought because we are so fascinated by the things that it can do.
Another significant change due to advancement of technology would be the access to the Internet. In South Korea where the Internet is the fastest in the world and is more developed than America, people can get free Wifi when walking on a busy street. Its government is working on having a nationwide Wifi so that people can access the Internet from everywhere outside. Even smartphones hold high value and are loved so deeply because of their access to the Internet. Without their ability to use the Internet at any time and at anywhere, they would not have been so famous or widely used. With the Internet, we can communicate with people around the world with a matter of a few seconds. People can send text messages or pictures and even face chat as if they are physically right next to each other. Before the Internet, the only way people from far away could communicate was through letters which took at least some days to be delivered or even some months if it was crossing the ocean. Having a videoconference was not even imaginable before the Internet, and although now the email has become a less popular way of communicating among young adults, it was a turning point in communication when it was first introduced in 1996. People were fascinated by the fact that their writing would be sent and received within a few seconds regardless of the distance and the length of their context. With the Internet, we can go on to a Chinese website, translate every word, and know what Chinese people are focused on right at this moment. The Internet holds the globe together and allows people with different cultural backgrounds to freely express their feelings and knowledge with no language, time, or distance barriers.
But like other developments of technology, the Internet also holds a lot of dark sides. The invention of the Internet has created a new threat called cyber terrorism. In a society like today where so much of individuals’ personal information is stored online, cyber terrorism is a really dangerous and scary threat to every country. Once one cyber terrorism organization succeeds to break all the cyber security of a country, it is so scary to think what they can and would do with all the information and access. It can almost bring the whole country down. Another highlighted problem of the Internet is cyber bullying. Because everyone can hide who they are online, in other words, they are not talking face to face exposing themselves, people tend to be meaner and less respectful. It would be okay if people were just being disrespectful, but because there is no filter on what each person can say and comment, a lot of untruthful and untrustworthy news or information flow in the Internet and harsh words are spoken toward specific individual or groups of people. Numerous celebrities suffer from vicious and abusive comments and some even commit suicide. Cyber bullying is not limited to celebrities, but it also targets countless normal citizens. Students suffer from their classmates’ comments and replies. According to the article, “Social Media Cyber Bullying Linked to Teen Depression,” studies show that cyber bullying’s effects can be as bad or worse than child abuse. Teens are at a high risk to fall in depression after being bullied on networks and the article says, ““there were consistent associations between exposure to cyber bullying and increased likelihood of depression,” Hamm told Live Science.”
It is true that technology has enlightened almost every aspect of our lives and it’s hard to think what it does not affect. But as much as it has enriched our lives, it is also true that now we are facing a lot of new problems and struggles that we did not have to face in the past. Some might say it’s just a normal trade off and we have to find ways to fight against them, and some are saying technology is just bad. It seems like for every advantage that technology has brought, there also are some disadvantages of technology.
“Cars, Trucks, and Air Pollution.” Union of Concerned Scientists Science for a Healthy Planet and Safer World. 5 December. 2014. Web. 14 April. 2016.
“Economic Impact on Transportation.” United States Department of Transportation Office of the Assistant Secretary for Research and Technology. Web. 14 April. 2016.
Emanuel, Richard, et al. "The Truth About Smartphone Addiction." College Student Journal 49.2 (2015): 291-299. Academic Search Complete. Web. 14 Apr. 2016.
Pappas, Stephanie. “Social Media Cyber Bullying Linked to Teen Depression.” Scientific American. 23 June. 2015. Web. 14 April. 2016.
Ramey, Karehka. “Modern Technology Advantages and Disadvantages.” Use of Technology. 6 November. 2012. Web. 14 April. 2016.
Turkle, Sherry. “No Need to Call” They Say, I Say: The Moves That Matter in Academic Writing with Readings. 3rd Edition. New York: Norton, 2014. 373-392. Print.
Wortham, Jenna. “I Had a Nice Time with You Tonight. On the App.” They Say, I Say: The Moves That Matter in Academic Writing with Readings. 3rd Edition. New York: Norton, 2014. 393-397. Print.