Published on November 20, 2012 | by Amy Tanikie-Montagnani

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Is technology really making lives easier?

Two people in a room, one with headphones on and one on his computer.

Is technology helping or hindering? [Peter Taylor]

In a world saturated with a previously unimaginable amount of different technologies, it is all too easy for many to become far too reliant upon it.

The playwright and novelist Max Frisch said: “Technology … [has] the knack of so arranging the world [so] that we don’t have to experience it,” and in today’s society, more than ever, this seems to ring true.

Most high street retailers now provide online shopping services, which means you do not have to leave the house.

Rather than searching through the shelves of a bookshop many books can now be purchased from online marketplaces like Amazon, and traditional book stores Waterstones and WHSmith have online shops as well.

eBay alone has a choice of 34 different categories ranging from clothing to property, and with millions of listings, many items that previously may have required a trip down to the shops to buy can be purchased at the click of a button.

Most music nowadays is downloaded to mp3 players or computers; websites such as YouTube, and programs like Spotify can now be purchased or acquired for free online-putting many high street music stores out of business.

Deliver 

Even major supermarket chains like Sainsbury’s and Tesco let you shop for groceries and other products online and will deliver them straight to your door.

One app available in some cities in America called Instacart, even lets you search and buy groceries that, for varying costs, can be delivered to your door in anything between one and three hours. This is made available by actually sending people out to the shop to buy the goods.

Other phone apps include one for those too lazy to muster up a few breaths and will arrange to blow out your birthday candles for you.

Takeaway websites like Just Eat and Hungry House also give you the opportunity to browse hundreds of restaurant and takeaway menus in your area, delivering the food straight to your front door rather than actually going out to eat. After ordering your takeaway, Just Eat sends you an email saying, “thank you for not cooking.”

There is now a product called the OHEA smart bed, which makes your bed.  OHEA’s website says: “Making the bed after getting up is a daily chore. Although it might seem a minor one, it has the character of a ritual that must be carried out, so much so that many people are simply unable to leave the home without having made their bed. It’s a proven fact that for many people making their bed after getting up can be a tiresome, even painful task; sometimes out of sheer habit, other times because one is in a hurry and lacks time.”

Instead of going out and getting your photographs developed and then lovingly spending the time carefully putting them into a meaningful photo album that can be passed down to future generations; many young people simply spend five minutes making an online album on Facebook, or post their pictures via photo-sharing programs like Instagram.

Entertainment

The Wii is a great way to keep us entertained without actually leaving the house. Wii bowling allows us to play bowling in the comfort of our homes rather than visiting a bowling alley; Wii cycling allows us to keep fit without going to the park and getting on a bike.

And there are many other things like free Online Karaoke; where we can sing with friends instead of going to a Karaoke Bar.

All of these examples show that technology is indeed stopping us from actively going out and doing things – as now we can get everything from the comfort and ease of our homes.

With websites like LOVEFiLM and Netflix it is no wonder video rental shops are struggling.

With so much choice on services like Sky Movies which can be watched on now relatively affordable giant televisions we do not necessarily need to go to the cinema to get a cinema-like experience.

Virtual pets have become increasingly popular; instead of actually looking after a real life, living animal, technology allows people to take care of a digital one instead, with computer games like Nintendogs and Eternal Eyes, among others.

Technology has no-doubt changed the way in which we communicate with people; texts, emails, Facebook chat and Twitter make it easy to contact our nearest and dearest, and with service like Skype and FaceTime we no longer have to actually visit people we know to see their faces.

Even when people are spending time together in the same room technology like laptops, mobile telephones, games consoles, or the television may stop us from talking or interacting as much as generations in the past used to.

However although there is a valid argument that the sheer abundance of technology available to us in the modern age can sometimes aid lazy, antisocial, hermit-like behaviour, some argue the opposite.

The technology correspondent for BBC News, Rory Cellan-Jones said, “I can’t imagine how I would do my job without tools like Twitter. Yet I sometimes wonder whether I communicated better 30 years ago.”

Cellan-Jones spoke to some members of the Facebook generation, with one declaring: “You use social networking and modern technology to arrange meeting people face to face, when otherwise you might not see them for a few weeks.”

There is no denying that technology has made life easier for almost everybody, but it should not replace actually going out into the world and doing things for ourselves, rather than letting a machine do it for us.

 

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