“Back in my day” is a phrase I have become accustomed to hearing from my parents. Their earliest memories of technology date back to when eight tracks were still around, calculators were the latest and greatest invention and computers, astronomical in size, used floppy disks. Mention some of these items to youth today and all you will get is a blank stare. This goes to show the rapid pace at which technology is changing life as we know it, or should I say knew it. Some people may be leery of the rapid advancements of technology, but it is technology that has impacted change in the world.
Technology is changing the way the world functions. Social media has become an outlet for revolution. The Arab Spring in Egypt is the perfect example of this. Revolutions through social media are ways for people to come together and believe in themselves again. Through seeing other peers express similar beliefs they are encouraged to state their opinions. Some risky individuals, encouraged by the new found freedom through social media, have begun to create new global web applications. Web entrepreneurs, who had been hiding in the dark, now recognize the impact they can make through technology.
People feel safe expressing their beliefs through social media. Since they are not allowed to protest on the streets, social media becomes their voice. Although Twitter and Facebook make a huge impact, their impact is limited. People are able to anonymously protest through social media; therefore, they can avoid government wrath. The main goal is that is brings issues to light and links people together. Technology has given a voice to people who have been forced to repress their beliefs their entire life.
Cell phones are powerful devices. They can connect us to anyone, anywhere. These days people do not leave home without their cell phones. If we accidentally leave our cell phone at home, we feel like a piece of us is missing. Some people worry that we have actually become addicted to our cell phones, but there are advantages people rarely consider. In America, we take for granted that everyone in the world has access to mobile communication just like we always have. Just a few years ago, you would have only seen a select few people with the privileges of mobile access that we have. Today, thanks to the advances in technology, more and more people in developing countries have mobile access. The increase in mobile technology has caused the digital divide to shrink and in turn reduce poverty for the rural poor. The use of cell phones enables faster and more flexible communication. Instead of having to spend an entire day walking into town, people living in rural areas can now conduct business over the phone.
Technology is allowing people of limited means to gain a higher degree of control over their current situations. In essence, technology is putting a persons future in ones own hands. In developing countries, people need products that they can use to improve their way of life. Technology allows new products to be developed constantly. Even the smallest inventions can change people’s lives. Take for example the light bulb. In developing countries this invention was extremely significant. The light bulb enabled people to work longer as it extended their work day. The more hours they could work, the more money they could make and the faster they could remove themselves from poverty. The rapid spread of technological advances has had a significant impact on changing the developing countries throughout the world. Organizations such as Kiva are helping to eliminate poverty by providing loans that change lives.
Video games are becoming a major part of people’s lives. Before people start to judge video and online games, they need to open up their eyes to the benefits they offer. What people once considered mindless and shallow games, are now viewed as impossible to put down. Games today are much easier to play, but require a higher degree of activity. Not all the games are designed for fun. Video games can also be used as learning tools. For several decades games have been used for educational and recruitment purposes, but people have been slow to recognize this shift. More recently; however, doctors have taken an interest in creating video games that can be used to train physicians, educate patients, improve fitness and help treat addicts and the mentally ill. As the saying goes, “practice makes perfect.” Thanks to technology doctors can now perfect their skills with the use of video games which takes health care to a whole new level. The power of video games does not stop there.
Video games can also be used to educate people on issues such as war. Most people have no idea what is really going on in the wars that currently exist as they are removed from the situation. Several games have been developed that are based on the current wars. When people play these games they are educated on what is happening in the world around them. Just like in the medical field, training games have also been developed for military personal. Being trained in a variety of simulations enables military personal to have confidence in their actions for when they are actually in combat. Technology has therefore improved not only our healthcare system but our military system as well.
Politics, altered by technology, is now more widespread than ever. Everyone in the world knows the latest news on governments around the world. Communication is much easier in today’s day and age and people have a greater access to information. People are therefore more apt to engage in public speech and to take collective action. Social media has essentially become a coordinating tool for political movements. People are more willing to demand change through the increased freedom that social media allows.
The past presidential election, Obama set the standard for social media use. With his campaign, emerging media has become important to not only our nation’s history, but the worlds history. Through his social media campaign, Obama was able to get his message across as well as energize his followers to action. The campaign was a huge success not because of the use of social media, but how social media was used. Each aspect of social media worked in conjunction with each other by promoting the singular message of Obama’s campaign. His continued success is due to the fact that he maintains his social media campaign. When the election ended, his Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube campaigns continued. Republicans fell behind this past election, but after seeing the impact that social media had they are prepared for the battle.
There is no doubt the world has been altered by technology. The presence of technology is only going to become more prevalent as time goes on. People need to learn to embrace the changes that occur as a result of technology. Technology is a force that will continue to change the world in new ways each and every day. Clay Shirky sums it up well: