The march of the digital age is upon us, and nothing will ever quite be the same again.
The amount that tech has changed lives in such a short period of time is nothing short of mind-boggling. Only 100 years ago, electricity was a new fad that few people had access too – now it’s effectively a human right, so ingrained upon us we can’t imagine a life without it. When you compare the development of humanity right from the Ancient Egyptians forward, we have easily developed more in the last 50 years than we did the 1,000 that preceded it.
In general, all of this change has been marked as a good thing, a positive, progressive in all the right ways. It might seem to be rubbing against the grain to even try to argue otherwise. However, there are a few downsides to how the world as we know it is a very different one to the that we were born into – and all changes have their rough edges.
POSITIVE: Communication Is Easier Than Ever
There is a necessary need in humans to communicate with others. If we find ourselves having to move away from our friends and family, then it can be gut-wrenching to try and cope with that. However, thanks to tech, it’s easier than it’s ever been to keep in touch with someone. Not only can we share our lives on social media, but we’re a Skype call away from seeing someone in as close to the flesh as it’s possible to get.
NEGATIVE: Bad Communication Is Easier Than Ever
In the early years of the internet, trolling was a term given to behaviour that tried to disrupt the normal flow of things. It wasn’t nasty; more mischief-making, an impish way of conducting yourself.
In 2017, trolling has taken on a whole new meaning – a darker, nastier one. The internet has exposed an underbelly of prejudice that, in general, most of us would have preferred to never know existed.
POSITIVE: Engaging With Passionate People
Let’s say in the late nineties, you made the incredibly wise decision to love Buffy The Vampire Slayer. If none of your friends and family liked the show, however, you were stuck.
Enter the era of the message board, which has now carried across into social media. You can engage with fellow passionate fans of any subject that you could possibly imagine, allowing people to feel a sense of inclusion as they share their excitement. Before the digital age, you were totally restricted to the people in your immediate vicinity. Now, you have the entire world as potential friends.
NEGATIVE: We’ve Changed The Way We Socialize
Comedian Dara O’Briain quips in one of his stand-up routines that Facebook is like a butler. His friends no longer email him; his friends email Facebook and Facebook passes the message on.
There’s a grain of reality in the comedy there that we all recognise. We have changed the way we do things, potentially building walls between us where there shouldn’t be one.
We are now more likely to eschew an evening of socialising because there’s nothing to catch up on – we know the ins and outs of our friends lives from social media. We no longer wander down to a betting shop to watch a big match; with 365 bet we can do it from the comfort of our own sofa. We don’t call our Gran for a catch-up, we send an email and hope she sees it.
These things aren’t inherently bad, of course. For those with mobility issues or who are on the extreme end of the introversion spectrum, they’re a huge blessing. But studies are showing social media actually makes people more miserable, so we still need to make the effort and get out there.
POSITIVE: Industries and Jobs Have Flourished
There are perfectly sensible job titles nowadays that wouldn’t have made any sense 50 years ago. You can be a web designer; half a century ago, that would have made someone query if you work with spiders.
A huge new industry has boomed and it looks like it will continue booming. Not only can you now search for jobs with absolute ease, but you can further career prospects with online certifications and learn from people who have walked the path you’re considering and see if it’s worth it.
Overall, the digital age offers more benefits than negatives – though we should still take a little time to enjoy the glare of the sun rather than the screen every once in awhile.