Technology defines life as we know it

Technology defines life as we know it

January 8th, 2012 Corin Harpe in Life Entertainment

Corin Harpe writes a "My Life" column for the Life section of the Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Photo by John Rawlston/Times Free Press.

As we usher in the new year, it seems that everyone got an iPad for Christmas. The computer store where I work was crowded with people eager to use these new devices and learn more about them.

Many people have benefited from iPads, and their ease of use has allowed for much discovery.

But as a member of the "millennial" generation, I've found it interesting that this increase in use and availability of technology has been inter- generational.

Technology is essential, not only to our well-being but to our humanity. Technology has grown with us and marked us as a society. To me, technology defines life. It gains momentum as each generation discovers more about the world.

All of us can remember a time when a particular form of technology did not exist. For me, it was wide availability of the Internet and later the cellphone. I remember being in the second or third grade when my friend's family acquired a computer with Internet access. It was dial-up, and I always knew that someone was using the Internet because whenever I called the house I would receive a busy signal. Compare that to high-speed wireless Internet and fiber optics we use today. Also, the Internet at that time was mainly used for chat rooms and did not contain the wealth of information we now depend on in our everyday lives.

Then there was the cellphone. I can remember in elementary school running errands with my mom. If we needed to call my dad, we had to use the store's phone or a pay phone. My parents' first cellphones were the size of some of today's small laptops, with long antennas. Today, practically everyone has a cellphone, and everyone is in constant communication. I know exactly how my closest friends spend each day, mostly through our constant thread of text messages. I basically do everything on my phone: text, make and receive calls, check email, watch videos, check Facebook, listen to music, read books, surf the Internet, you name it.

My parents can remember when there were no color televisions. Now, you would be hard-pressed not to find a color television in every U.S. household, and it seems that once a new technology develops we cannot live without it. Therefore, almost without knowing it, technology has set a framework for our lives.

Technology goes beyond mere appliances and relates to communication. I cannot imagine life without Facebook. There is no way that I would be in touch with or friends with half the people I know today if not for Facebook, and I know that many of my friends would say the same thing about Twitter and other social media. In fact, I have wondered how people stayed in communication before these websites. Some businesses would not exist or would lack most of the revenue they have today without these social-media outlets.

There are positives and negatives to our technological world. As an English major and someone who has always enjoyed reading, I do find it sad that libraries are eliminating many physical books in favor of electronic versions, but at the same time these versions will help our planet in allowing for more accessibility. I also fear that we depend too much on the Internet. What would we do if it suddenly disappeared?

Overall, I love technology. I enjoy seeing it develop, and I like educating people about it. Also, I think it is good that technology has placed us in constant communication, helping us connect with others.

Contact Corin Harpe at corinharpe@gmail.com.