Cassette tapes, VCR’s and dial-up internet have gone the way of the dinosaurs. Today, technology has infiltrated every aspect of our lives from our relationships to our jobs. Here are five ways technology influences our lives — for the good and the bad.
- Connect to More People. Social media and smartphones have made it easier to keep up with friends from high school, not to mention work acquaintances, siblings and grandparents. Technology has also redefined romance. Since 2013, the number of 18-24 year-olds who use online dating services like Match.com or Tinder has nearly tripled. But while relationships are easier to find, this easy access tends to make them more superficial and fleeting. Don’t like what you see? Swipe left.
- Decrease Privacy. One of the negative ways tech influences our lives is by lessening our privacy and safety. Ever Googled yourself? It can be scary to discover how much personal information is available for anyone to see and use. One way to hide some of your personal information is to block your cell number, especially when you’re contacting a Craigslist seller, for example, or if you want to protect your child’s identity when they make outgoing calls. And don’t forget about the targeted advertisement for Ugg boots that keeps popping up on your screen because you Googled that last week. To keep your searches private, try blocking cookies from Google or using different browsers for email and searching.
- Buy, Sell, and Share More. Today we have iPads with card readers instead of cash registers. Airbnb and smart locks instead of hotels and card keys. Uber instead of taxis or public transit. And Craigslist, eBay, Etsy and Amazon instead of the mall. That’s because technology has spurred the growth of e-commerce so more people can buy, sell and share online. Business and banking can be conducted via smartphone (or even smartwatch) from anywhere in the world.
- Increase Access to Information. Remember back when you wanted to find out how tall Mount Everest is and you had to look it up in a book? Well, now we have Google, Wikipedia and YouTube within thumb’s reach. And with the rise of MOOCs, ebooks and assistive technology like screen readers and voice recognition, formal education is rapidly becoming more inclusive. The way people consume news, too, is drastically different now than it was 50 years ago. Rather than listening to a radio program or watching cable TV, 62 percent of U.S. adults now get their news from social media. The downside: an increased risk of consuming fake news or hokey research.
- Help You Get a Job … or Lose One. We used to fill out a paper application and drop it off in person. Now, there are online applications, tricky questionnaires and robotic applicant tracking systems. LinkedIn connections have replaced references. Instead of traditional resumes and interviews, many companies now look for a condensed Tweet and video interview to filter out top candidates. And you can forget about putting your best foot forward in the interview. With search engines and social media cataloging your every move, hiring managers have instant access to your best (and worst) moments with the click of a mouse.
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