How Does Technology Affect Society?

One of the most famous quotes among media people, sociologists and other observers of society is this, “The medium is the message.” What Marshall McLuhan meant by this was that the way we communicate shows us what our society is all about. If we just look at the “things” we use every day we can see the effects.

Technology Affect SocietyFor example, just a century ago, the countries and islands in the South Pacific and the Indian Ocean seemed a lot farther away from the U.S. and Europe. Getting to “the other side of the world” meant weeks and months over land or on the sea to arrive at a destination.

As human beings have developed new and fast ways of travel (jet airplanes) the world seems much smaller. For the people of Southeast Asia and the South Pacific, the United States and Europe are part of a global village in which we share ideas, products, art, music and other examples of culture. One key effect technology: it is bringing people closer together.

On a slightly smaller scale (in miles) the automobile has completely altered much of the planet’s landscape. Concrete and asphalt are quite common around the world. But more than that, the car has changed the way we eat, sleep and live. At one time in the not too distant past, men and women would make their own food and clothes or at least walk a short distance to get what they needed.

Today, because the car is perhaps the key technological tool of our lives, we drive long distances to “get things.” Many of the merchants who offer the products have constructed their entire business around the use of the car. Consider that we can eat, drink, and be married without leaving our car. In fact, some funeral services allow people to drive through a “mausoleum” to “visit” dead relatives and friends.

The technology of the Internet, or more accurately, the World Wide Web, allows people to connect and “converse” from those distant points without traveling. Video and audio technology allows people to talk and to see each other when they are thousands of miles apart.

With both travel and communication, positive use of technology can create a better world, one in which people understand each other much better.

However, technology can affect the world and its population in negative ways as well. People have been fighting each other for thousands of years, starting by throwing rocks and sticks at each other. The technology of weapons has placed human beings in the position of being able to destroy not just a few dozen people at a time but to eliminate life itself.

Technology has certainly affected society, in both positive and negative ways. Whether the effects are good or bad depends on the choices human beings make. Our lives are more comfortable in many ways and we are much more healthy in general because of technology in medicine, food-preparation and storage, home construction etc. The question remains: Is life better?

Category: Technology

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