When I was younger I had no reason to have a mobile phone. When my Mum deemed me ‘grown up’ enough to go out on my own or meet my friends without a chaperone, having a mobile phone was simply for safety reasons, and playing Snake of course. But as I’ve grown older, this use of technology has changed considerably. From something that was there just incase to something we cannot do without – How else would I get my emails during my 7am commuter train squished between a man with a very large backpack and someone reading the Metro while blaring out a bit of Beyonce from their Beats? It wasn’t too long ago that we simply didn’t have access to this type of technology, but now we depend on it. What time is the train? I’ll check it on my app. Oh balls, I haven’t got a book for next week’s lecture, onto Amazon on the bus home.
It’s not just about mobile phones and iPads however, as retail staff worry about automatic checkouts making them redundant. Soon we will have no need for their help, until those pesky self service machines go wrong of course – which we can all agree, happens frequently. Sooner or later we will be subject to self-driving cars, pushing out taxi drivers and public transport entirely. This battle between man and machines has been going on for centuries, but that doesn’t mean we don’t take advantage of this technology as much as we complain about it. Is it taking our jobs or simply easing the workload?
Technology has created jobs, after all, we need to know and understand how it works to be able to use it in the first place. Designers and inventors work side by side to not only create something efficient and reliable, but of course in the 21st century it must look good too. Let’s take the iPhone as an example… Would it be anywhere near as popular if it was only available in one colour and was twice the weight? No of course not. Would we be happy to carry round a device that looked hideous and made people think ‘what the hell is that?’ rather than go green with envy when glancing between their brick-like 3210 and your sleek new iPhone 6? No, definitely not.
But have we become a little too obsessed with technology? Are we even interested in how it works any more, or do we simply expect it to and look good at the same time? This easy and instant access to information helps us to learn about the world around us in new and interesting ways. We can read the news and articles on the way to work, making use of our commuter time that may otherwise be filled with ready the Metro over and over again to avoid eye contact with others. But while technology has helped us to learn and develop our skills, and most likely enabled you to read this on your lunch break/while you’re taking a poo/avoiding commuters, it has also connected and disconnected us with society. We are sociable in new ways, checking Facebook hourly and tweeting our anger whenever possible. We take photos of pretty views and share them with our friends instantly over Whats App or iMessage (after adding a suitable Instagram filter) and yet this online presence has taken us out of real life. While we may have hundreds – if not thousands – of friends online, we avoid those we know in the real world when on the way to work.
What I wonder is, will our obsession with technology evolve our social skills or simply separate them dramatically from online and offline?