Young men studying Level Three English are required to complete a writing portfolio. Frequently the topics they are grappling with cause them to examine important issues in society today. Thanks to Year 13 student Senuka Onel for sharing his work with us - Technology: The Good, the Bad and the Downright Ugly
Statement of Intent – Is technology betraying humanity? Can artificial intelligence surpass human intelligence? These questions are becoming more prevalent each day, as technology seems to be conquering our world and reshaping our lives. For this reason, we must take a step back, to evaluate the purpose technology serves in our lives. The goal of this argumentative essay is to inform my teachers and peers by evaluating the advantages and disadvantages that modern technology poses in our society.
Title - Technology: The Good, the Bad and the Downright Ugly
Today, technology is widely available, and highly promoted throughout society. Endless opportunities are being created by technology, all of which drastically change the way we live our lives. Prior to the incipience of modern technology, life was onerous for most people, as our day-to-day chores were awfully time-consuming. However, with recent advancements in computers and machinery, our access to fundamental necessities such as transportation, healthcare, and education has been tremendously simplified. Essentially, we are like kids eating candy bars, consuming everything given to us without any form of appreciation. Technology has enabled us to connect with the rest of the world with just a few clicks on a smartphone, allowing us to reach someone on the other side of the globe in seconds. It even lets us develop self-driving autopilot vehicles that can cruise along the road with minimal input from the driver – once again, further simplifying our lives.
From washing machines to self-driving cars, technology has evolved into an entity which requires minimal input from us. There was a time when even the simplest tasks—those of which we do not pay much attention to nowadays, such as doing laundry—used to take up a large portion of the day. Technology has lifted a heavy burden off our shoulders, which, in turn, enables us to have more time and energy to do anything else that we want. One of the most substantial benefits of technology is in the healthcare sector, where the quality of life is directly improved. Human beings have reaped the advantages of medical innovations like minimal-invasive surgeries, which leave patients with less scarring, cutting-edge equipment, which aids patients with disabilities by providing hearing aids and text readers, and robotic prosthetic limbs, which provide a second chance at a disability-free life for some patients. All of this leads us to believe that technology seems to be perfect right?
While cutting-edge technology may enable some individuals with disabilities to regain their livelihoods, we cannot turn a blind eye on the fact that there is no such thing as 'free lunch'. Everything comes at a cost. Albert Einstein once stated “It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity”. These days, technology is increasingly used for all the wrong reasons, engendering negative impacts on our society and instilling a whole new layer of complexity into our lives. The internet is an ideal location for malicious entities to operate, as it essentially establishes a 'perfect storm' for these malevolent forces to function. It provides easy access to your personal data coupled with untraceable anonymity, which is nothing short of ideal for these cybercriminals. Take, for instance, the paedophiles that exploit social media networks and online chats to lure children, while terrorists use social media platforms to proselytise themselves and incite people, often naïve teenagers who ventured to the darker end of the internet. Technology has indeed taken a toll on our social life, not to mention the relationships with family members, which are being weakened, thanks to our insurmountable obsession with mobile phones and devices. Technology is making our generation blind as bats, both figuratively and literally.
Needless to say, humanity has also reaped the benefits of these mobile devices as they have aided us in many ways, like enabling us to connect with our loved ones across the globe. However, despite this, it is also gradually secluding us from the real world. The more we get drawn into technology such as video games on gaming consoles, smartphones, and social media, the more we separate ourselves from reality. Thanks to technology, we are able to receive an entirely new life, a virtual life that confines us within the four corners of a little display but opens up an entirely new world of our own imagination. The grass always looks greener on social media, as people only choose to post the positive aspects of their lives. Some of us may fall for this illusion and become envious of the things that people post of social media, such as their relationships and their lifestyles, which may not even exist in reality. Some of us may use this virtual life as a distraction as a way of escaping our problems and difficulties in life. However, we cannot ignore the fact that in reality, we are isolating ourselves from the real world and merely ignoring our problems instead of attempting to resolve them.
Problems are like illnesses, once things start getting better, people assume that the illness is cured and they stop taking further action to recover to the full extent, and they end up sick again. This applies to the misuse of modern technology as it’s invention may have resolved many of the issues humanity faced, but in hindsight, it also created new ones. Young people nowadays are so fixated on their devices to the point that many of them have trouble staying focused for over eight seconds. Scientists claim that the human attention span is fifty-two seconds less than what it was thirty years ago, which is in fact humiliatingly shorter than that of a goldfish. People nowadays are becoming less attentive to everything. This is especially true for teenagers as they are prone to get distracted more quickly; as a result, they will experience more difficulty staying focused and retaining information at school. This was further explored in a study by Forbes, which claimed that twenty-five percent of teenagers could not recall essential details of their close friends and relatives. In short, the consequences of our excessive involvement with our mobile devices and technology are beginning to show.
Our excessive involvement with these devices, not only hinders our ability to think for ourselves, but it essentially shackles us from the real world as it dissuades us from exploring new places and going out and making new friends. This suggests furthermore that technology negatively influences our wellbeing as it can lead to an unhealthy sedentary life. To illustrate, in our generation, it is often common to binge-watch television shows for long periods without even realising it. As a result, people are becoming increasingly sleep-deprived due to staring at screens incessantly, the task of taking our eyes off these screens seem insurmountable nowadays. It is also worth mentioning that technology poses severe health issues, such as obesity, damage to vision, and even cancer. Today’s teenagers would rather sit and watch Netflix or play videogames in the comfort of their home rather than going outside and taking part in activities which involve physical exercise. Unfortunately, most young people perceive outdoor activities to be like mashed potato without salt - after a single bite, they have already had enough.
The thought of not being able to watch the sunset as the clouds edge with pink and gold, without being distracted by phones is truly saddening as today’s young people won’t feel the need to appreciate the beauty of the world around them with their own eyes than opposed to glaring down at a screen – technology truly seems to have clipped their wings and tied their feet.
In conclusion, it is clear that most technological advancements were adopted with the hopes of reducing human effort and improving our quality of life. Although technology and the internet provide numerous advantages to us, we cannot neglect their drawbacks. "Rome was not built in a day," technology, it follows will not be either, but we should be able to grow with it. It is obvious that it is too late for us to abandon technology altogether; our generation could not survive without it. The internet is essentially a virtual lump of clay; we get to decide how it is moulded. For this reason, it is our obligation to utilise technology ethically, in such a manner that it does not disrupt the wellbeing of others, given that technology is not able to harm anyone on its own (yet), so it is ultimately our responsibility to use the technologies we have to date conscientiously, or else everything we accomplished so far would come falling down - like a house of cards. Technology exists for the sole purpose of making our lives more convenient, but, when we abuse it in such a way that it interferes with the lives of other people, we defeat its purpose.