There are innumerable ways technology has radically changed our lives and culture. The past twenty years have seen some of the most significant changes in technology in history and, as such, much about the way we live our lives has changed.
Some of these changes are positive, such as our quality of life. Other changes have had more questionable effects.
Here are some of the ways, for better or worse, that technology has changed our lives.
Quality of Life Improvements
Our overall quality of life has changed tremendously over the years, and it improves even more with each update in technology that comes about. Technology has improved the medical field, entertainment industry, our relationships, our education, and even areas such as our cooking habits.
Years ago, a simple cold would be enough to take down a grown human adult. With advances in technology, we not only can handle the cold but we’ve extended the average lifespan and have the equipment to take on more intense diseases. Doctors are also able to practice major operations and procedures in virtual reality.
Health monitoring is simpler than ever as well. Many doctor visits have been saved thanks to the health apps installed on our smartphones and watches. It is also easier than ever to commit to a healthy exercise routine thanks to similar apps and programs.
Advancements like centralized heating and air, tankless water heaters, electric cooking equipment, and farming tools like tractors have also dramatically improved the quality of our lives. Our homes are more comfortable, our jobs are easier, and our food is more delicious.
Simplification and Automation of Chores
Thanks to technology, chores have become less a dreaded reality of life and borders being actually enjoyable. Many chores are available to do with the press of a button while relaxing on the couch.
Vacuums can work hands-free, as one example, thanks to products like the Roomba. You can order and have your groceries delivered using an app like Instacart. Even your pets can be fed thanks to automatic feeders.
What used to take your entire weekend to accomplish, you’re now able to tackle within a fraction of the time. This also adds to the quality of life since people who struggled to take care of themselves before can now manage their homes using mainly a smartphone.
Not to mention appliances we have enjoyed continue to improve. The best dishwashers today can automatically detect how many cleaning cycles are needed to effectively clean dishes. Smart refrigerators like Samsung’s SmartHub can detect when you need groceries.
With the historic achievement known as the internet, you can connect with someone on the other side of the world within a matter of seconds.
The biggest example of this is, of course, social media. Sites like Facebook and Twitter not only allow friends and family to connect, but celebrities and their fans, politicians and their constituents, and so on.
It has also allowed for a global community around certain topics to gather and discuss their favorite subjects from thousands of miles away. Just look at any forum on Reddit.
We have the ability to see other cultures and know what events are happening as it unfolds thanks to our ability to cover news internationally. With the advent of smartphones and social media, we have seen a spike in civilian journalism as remarkable first-hand accounts of major events.
Soldiers on duty are able to Skype and use other video chat apps to witness their children being born. Generations past not only missed the event but often didn’t see their child for months or years.
We can now communicate with large groups at one time which makes collaborating on work or art a breeze. Apps like Slack make team communication more effective than ever, for instance.
Technology has provided us with ways to connect with other humans in ways our ancestors would have never dreamed.
Content Consumption and Binge-Watching
Over the past twenty years, there have been major shake-ups in the film and television industry. The Washington Post has a webpage where you can see the death of the VCR, as well as what movies were most popular by year from 1985 to 2016.
DVDs have been on their way out as well, since more than half of all movie purchases in the past few years were digital sales.
Movie theaters are also seeing some strain as streaming sites like Netflix and Hulu become more and more dominant in the film-making scene. Theaters are constantly trying to find ways to bring people from home and into the movies.
One of the newer updates to technology is the ability to stream movies and online content. People now have the ability to work full-time from home making videos of their lives, or reviews, or how-to videos that millions of others tune in to watch.
Watching a full series of a show without commercials is now possible with streaming services like Netflix and Hulu. This has not only changed the way we digest content, but it has also changed the way said content is produced.
Shows are no longer limited to the strict commercial break structure of cable television, and now we see shows with varying episode lengths and plot arcs designed to keep viewers tuned in. Characters in the popular Netflix show “Big Mouth” even reference the fact that most of its viewers are binging the show.
There have also been dramatic shifts in the industry. As more and more people cut the cord, cable providers are having a hard time innovating to keep up. And as popular channels like ESPN establish their own streaming services, the cable industry as we know it may radically change in the next few years.
As it is with any form of change, radical changes in technology have both benefited our society and have given us new obstacles to learn how to handle. Like all technological progress, though, these problems will be addressed as new ones arrive.
With the arrival of 5G on cellular networks in the next year, it is hard telling where some of the next major innovations will take place.
Resources – The Planet Today, Washington Post, PCMAG