It’s difficult to imagine what our lives would be like without technology. Modern technology has completely changed every aspect of life, whether it’s that casual social media scroll, your morning espresso, or the increased access to the latest information. But unfortunately, the double-edged sword that is the internet allows the latest information to spread quickly and easily – for better and worse. This is linked to significant advancements in just about every industry and sector but has also caused an increase in privacy worries, a decline in mental health, and increased social division.
However, when we get down to it, how has technology really affected your daily life? Which innovations are essential, and which ones could you do without?
The changing face of shopping
When you want to buy something, what do you do? Do you travel miles to a shop or have the item delivered? You probably check availability online first or click and collect when you visit a store. Stores can keep on top of their stock levels by checking online and order new stock when things get low.
However, there is another side to this. When small businesses can’t keep up with the convenience of modern online businesses, entire high streets are forced to close. You need more than just a till and barcode system – if you can’t make a whole range of options available, you’re sunk. Thankfully, some businesses are trying to make the online world accessible for all small and medium business owners.
Yes, with greater access to information comes a greater need for security. Modern technology has given us all the tools we need to protect ourselves. But it has also given us a great need for all this protection. For example, passwords allow us to shield ourselves, but only if we make them strong. Even then, hackers may find them out. On top of this, the tools we use for physical security, like security cameras and doorbells, can also get cracked and expose us more than ever!
Then there are computer viruses. Constantly changing, the latest ransomware is particularly gnarly, blocking a whole organisation’s access to using their computers and networks! You can stay ahead of the threat with a good antivirus and VPN, but the landscape is continually changing.
And now, everyone’s favourite use for the internet. When’s the last time you went a day without sending a message or receiving an email? Do you post on your Instagram every day or have a Snap Streak a high schooler would be envious of? Since Bell first invented his ‘phone, it’s fair to say the communication device has gone through a few iterations. Landlines, carphones, mobiles, and now smartphones are a few of the growingly more accessible versions of the telephone. Gone are the days of exclusive oralism and business people on their Blackberrys – today’s smartphones are for everyone. Good hardware in combination with high-speed broadband and data means signing or speaking over a video call is possible just about anywhere in the world. And, thanks to the pandemic, more economical video conferencing is here to stay.
Quick and easy information access
Surf the net! The information superhighway is here! Nowadays, everything you want to know is just a few clicks away. Even a slow connection is faster than heading down to your local library, consulting the Dewey decimal system, and finding maybe one book on what you want to know. Everything is at your fingertips, and you can be an expert on anything.
But just as prevalent as knowledge is its shadow, misinformation. Though search engines do their best to filter out dubious sites, misinformation makes its way into at least some of what you see online. Moreover, misinformation spreads conspiracy theories and leads to false beliefs taking hold for years.
The ability to work from home
Yes, one of the most consequential uses for technology in recent years is the ability to work from home. Of course, working outside the office comes with its own challenges, but software like Zoom and Teams has made keeping in touch with your workplace a little easier – as long as you get it set up. Working from home can blur the boundaries between work and clocking off. You may end up working more than usual or at different times of the day. But for the most part, the option for remote working suits most people. No need to commute, increased flexibility, less impact on the environment and being able to work where you want is fantastic!
Better health tracking
Another great recent trend is the uptake of fitness devices. Ever since VCR workout videos, we’ve been using various technology to help us keep fit for years. Gadgets and gizmos have helped us stretch, exercise, and work out in the comfort of our living rooms. But now, with smartwatches and fitness trackers, we have access to more accurate information on our own health. By simply wearing a watch, we can track our heart rate throughout the day, measure our step count, and get gentle prods to meet our fitness goals. In addition, we can track our sleep, see our blood pressure, and gradually step things up.
Online social lives
When social media first stepped onto the scene, it was an exclusively formal item. Facebook was just a yearbook for colleges, for example. However, now, the apps TikTok, Instagram and Snapchat have a strong hold across demographics. As a result, everyone from your grandma to young children can keep in touch with friends and family around the world. Even celebrities and businesses try to get in on the act, posting ads and updates on their social media for fans.
Of course, there are some problems with social media. Studies have pointed out how detrimental social media can be to your mental health, especially for young girls. There’s a long way to go, but if social media can be improved, it can be a tool for good.