Technology – The Bane of Modern Existence

Disclaimer: This is an essay that I wrote quite a while ago and decided to share my ideas and research. Don’t simply copy this and hand it in as your own. Other than the fact that piracy is morally incorrect, this essay got quite a good mark for the level it was written for and your teacher will know immediately that this wasn’t you if you are not a top English student. On the other hand, if you are a top student, I trust that you are too proud to copy someone else’s work.

And by the way, I’m sorry I don’t have references for some of these statements. At the time of writing, these were not required

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Technology has provided us with many amenities that we all need to live reasonably comfortably and has raised the standard of life across the globe. However, it has not improved the quality of our lives. Technology has not enhanced our perception of everyday life, in many ways, it decreases the fulfilment that we reap from everyday life. Many are so dependant on technology that they cannot function without it, it is a stressor in the workplace and technology also has adverse effects on our health, security and the manner in which we interact with others.

The inventions of electricity, computers, cellphones and the internet have all raised the standards of our living and have enabled a variety of workplace, household and recreational activities to be more accessible and enjoyable. However, due to their efficiency and apparent infallibility, we have become dependent on them. So dependent, that many cannot bear to be without their cellphones even when they know that it will disrupt their personal, relaxing time. Cellphones create unnecessary stress and disrupt conversations, however, they are constantly left powered on in case one receives an improbable emergency call. Cellphones were never a concern a decade ago, but within months of experiencing its efficiency, we are addicted to it although we know that it is not always good for us. By placing trust in a machine’s efficiency, humans are undermining their own potential and not developing themselves to their innate capability. Many top academics cannot perform basic arithmetic without a calculator. Writers do not learn how to spell because the computer will correct their errors. Such reliance and faith in technology leaves us unable to function properly without it.  When a harddrive fails, we are not just unable to complete our daily routine, but we experience immense frustration. We take new innovations for granted within days of being introduced to it, but as we grow reliant, we are incensed within minutes of the technology failing.

Technology such as the internet and cellphones has enabled employees to become more productive in their profession. It has enabled workers to ply their trade faster than before. However, it has not made working easier or less time consuming. Due to technological advancements, employees now complete a lot more work than previous generations. The sheer volume of work in today’s workplaces has led to employees enjoying their occupation less and less. Architects in the 21st century of Computer Aided Drawing complete five times as many projects annually than their predecessors from fifteen years ago. In his career, a 21st century architect will complete so many repetitive and unstimulating designs that he will tire of his career as he advances up the corporate ladder. This is probably why 14% more people retire early as compared to the decade before. An employee does not earn more from completing additional amounts of work and neither does his employer as the business’ customers will pay less if it costs the supplier less. Technology has heightened expectations of productivity, speed and reliability of employees and has led them to experience stress from greater responsibilities. A fifth of a sample of British workers surveyed by Health and Safety Executive of Great Britain thought their job was “very or extremely stressful.” Stress is a chronic disease and has lasting physical and psychological manifestations.

Stress is not the only health concern that technology causes. The invention of MP3 players has led to the youth inflicting irreversible hearing loss on themselves by listening to music via earphones at unacceptably high volumes. The American Hearing Association reports that the incidence of environment related hearing loss had doubled from thirty years ago. Another unwelcome by-product of technological advancements is Radio Frequency (RF) radiation. This type of radiation is emitted by wireless devices such as cellphones, cellphone towers, notebook computers and Wi-Fi networks which are used in schools and offices. RF radiation is carcinogenic and has been proven to cause brain tumours in rats. Regulations governing the manufacture of these devices are present, but they apply to one product only. Many individuals exposed to multiple devices are inadvertently being affected by it. RF radiation is one of the factors that has increased the prevalence of cancers worldwide. Prolonged periods of computer use also leads to eyestrain and frequent headaches. It is not certain whether or not staring at a monitor can reduce vision but half of all Americans are myopic (short-sighted) – double the incidence rate of thirty years ago before computers and televisions were ubiquitous. Computers do not just have negative physical manifestations, but psychological ones as well. Internet addiction is becoming an epidemic in developed countries. The Chinese military runs three-month long boot camps in Beijing to wean addicts off their yearning to stare at a computer screen.

The advent of the internet has also negatively changed the manner in which individuals communicate with each other. Communication over the internet allows the user to hide behind the veil of an online alias. Individuals can interact in a manner that would not be socially acceptable over the internet. This, in turn, spills over into the way that people interact with each other when they do meet face-to-face and is slowly leading to an inhospitable society that is no longer governed by decency and politeness. Interaction with unknown aliases on the internet and chatrooms leads to people trusting anonymous personalities on the internet instead of forming friendships with those they meet in person. Those who communicate excessively via the internet find it harder to interact interpersonally as they become unfamiliar with body language, tone and eye contact. They frequent the anonymous chatrooms of the internet which are the prime hunting grounds of paedophiles and fraudsters who befriend their prey before striking.

Technology has raised the standard of living but it has not raised the quality of living. Due to its mechanical nature, it is easy to take for granted, but even easier to find faults in as its reliability and efficiency give it an infallible façade. And when the shortcomings, such as the manner in which humans become dependent on it and the way it affects our health and modes of interaction, are examined, it is apparent that technology causes stress as well as health and security concerns –  concerns that we did not have to worry about before the technology was released.

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