Technology and Its Impacts on Society

Introduction:

Changes have been described as essential functions to human life in the society. Changes are inevitable as man and the society continue to exist. Technology and inventions are spearheaded by man and interact with the society to bring about the necessary social changes. Each year, various technological inventions that are embraced which leads to their steadily increasing impacts on the social aspects within the society.

Technology advancement therefore has become essential in shaping the society as it has traversed virtually all aspects of human life. Technological innovations are responsible for the new social themes being experienced within the modern society. It is therefore important to note that new technologies will impact on the choices we make, how we lead our lives, and on how we interact with others. The internet and the mass media in particular have led to far reaching implications especially in matters to do with inter-personal communication and the general sociological aspect within the society.

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The Internet and Mass media:

In the recent past, the use of the internet has drastically increased. Studies have shown that in the case of the United States, which is the world’s leading nation in internet use, the internet use had risen from 66% to 73% in 2006[1]. In the survey, it was revealed that about 70% of adult Americans were internet users. Though the United States is the world’s leader in internet use, other countries around the world are quickly adapting the trend and the internet use has gained considerably. It is no wonder that e-communications are being incorporated as crucial in effecting behavioural and social changes within the society[2].

Internet has disregarded geographical distances and separations in this new world order, as borders no longer have great impact on limiting people’s activities. People are encouraged to participate and contribute on different aspects which have drawn different experiences and pooled resources together. Actions and reactions have become instantaneous in cyberspace and this has made internet to be more gratifying and attractive. The resultant effect is that internet has impacted our society in almost all areas of human endeavours.

The problem is that the impact has been both positive and negative and as such, caution has been advocated as a means in which citizens should approach the internet[3]. In matters of communication, technological advancement has been experienced in immeasurable quantities. There have been tremendous developments in the mass media industry including TV, radio, newspapers, telephone and wireless gadgets that have facilitated the communication between individuals. Advance research has led to development of space technologies and satellites which are used for communication thereby adding to the sophistication of the industry. The geographical distance between individuals is no longer an issue as the technology has come to fill the gap[4].

The Impacts of the internet and mass media on the society:

It is a matter of fact that easy access to the internet, which includes the availability of personal computers with rather cheap prices, introduction of reliable internet services and establishment of internet cafes has changed the nature of people’s connection to each other in their social field. Physical proximity is no longer an essential in communicating to one another face to face. Technology has made it easier for rapid connections across long distances and people are now in a position to write electronic mails that are transmitted virtually immediately throughout the globe[5].

Eskicumali argues that there are various aspects of the lives of individuals, especially the young people which have been altered by the internet. The basic nature of their relationships with one another has been greatly influenced by the internet. This is due to the reason that there has been a global diffusion of information and communication technologies that has expanded the domain of ‘absent presence’ which in turn has resulted to an erosion of face to face community centred relationships[6]. The internet has created new type of social relations and virtual communities that has not been formed ever since.

These virtual communities are social network of individuals who interact through specific media, and potentially crossing geographical and political boundaries, so as to pursue mutual goals and interests. The internet has also impacted the social system in form of communication[7]. There is diversity in the internet-mediated communication which is displayed in different sectors such as politics, art, family, and mass media among others. It has become the bearer of different kinds of communication. This is due to several features of internet’s technical and textual structure which has promised to have a crucial impact on communication[8].

Technology is said to be providing a link between individuals located at different parts of the world but at the same time, it can be argued that the same technology is creating enclaves for these same individuals. The use of technology can lead to situations whereby individuals find themselves glued to the use of modern technology and having little or no time to spend with others. The internet in particular has led to the development of social network sites which alienates individuals from socializing with their close friends and relatives as they are glued to chat-rooms with ‘distant’ friends[9].

Interpersonal Communication:

Technology can be used to either enhance or inhibit any given aspect of human life. It is however the interpersonal communication that would feel the effects of technology first. Historically, the modes of communication have been changing over time in line with the evolution of the society. People dispersed in various parts of the world and verbal communication was altered to letter writing so as ensure that there was communication. Individuals came with inventions on how to carry out the conversation as well as written communication amongst two members that were geographically apart. The telephone came up and most individuals thought that now the other forms of communication would become obsolete[10].

With family and friends relocating to different parts of the globe, the telephone technology came in as a blessing in ensuring that family and friends could still stay in touch irrespective of the geographical barriers. The advent of computers has simplified communication even further by bringing to the forefront the concept of instant messaging between individuals who are millions of miles apart[11].  It should be noted that any advancement of technology in communication does not replace the existing one as each is capable of surviving by its own rules providing various options to the individuals.

The impact of technology on the interpersonal communication has also come with its demerits. Individuals have tended to side with the use of technology in communicating hence loosing on the ‘personal touch’ which is very essential in the communication process. Technology has provided room for individuals to loose the art of effective communication which can only be realized through face to face communication. This is accomplished by body language, eye contact, and any other observable feature when communicating. Social cowards are able to hide behind technology to air their disagreements as the technology offers some sort of false sense of security and ambiguity[12].

Conclusion:

The advancement in technology is often meant to better the lives of human beings. Nevertheless, the impacts of technological advancement come in two folds — advantages and disadvantages. What is important though is to look at the differences between the advantages and the disadvantages in order to evaluate the net effect of the technology on human society. The advancement that has been made in the communication sector is great and has had far reaching impacts on the society in general. The internet in particular has led to critical impacts in the sharing of information as well as reducing the world into a global village where communication becomes instantaneous irrespective of the geographical distance between the communicating parties.

With advancement in technology, interpersonal communication has been greatly affected since individuals have turned to the ‘faceless’ technology to communicate. This has had its merits and demerits. Though technology has eased the communication, the effectiveness of the communication has greatly been hampered. Though technology has two sides just like any other issue that may come up in the society, its merits especially in the communication sector are greater than the associated disadvantages. Technology is here to stay and it is bound to influence virtually all aspects of our lives. The internet for instance is ubiquitous in everyday life and its impacts are far from over given that technology is usually cumulative.

Bibliography:

Bergschneider, Veronica. Technology’s influence on interpersonal communication, (2010). Retrieved on 20th May 2010 from;

http://www.helium.com/items/1567920-technology-for-communicating

Eskicumali, Ahmet. The Effects of Internet Cafes on Social Change in Turkey: The Case of Hendek. The Turkish Online Journal of Educational Technology, (2010). vol.9, no. 2, pp. 1-9

Friedenfels, Roxanne. Social Change: An Anthology. Rowman & Littlefield. ISBN 1882289595, 9781882289592, (1998).

Kedem, Carmella. The Social Impact of the Internet on Our Society, (1999), Retrieved on 20th May 2010 from; http://www.math.umd.edu/~bnk/CAR/project.htm

Lin, Carolyn, A. & David J. Atkin. Communication technology and social change: theory and implications. Routledge. ISBN 0805856137, 9780805856132, (2007).

Schiavo, Renata. The rise of e-health: Current trends and topics on online health communications, Journal of Medical Marketing (2008). Vol 8, pp 9-18.

Westwood, Douglass. Impact of Technology Change. (2010). Retrieved on 20th May 2010 from;

http://www.sociologyguide.com/social-change/impact-of-technology-change.php.

[1] Renata Schiavo. The rise of e-health: Current trends and topics on online health communications, Journal of Medical Marketing (2008). Vol 8, p 10
[2] Ibid p 11
[3] Carmella Kedem. The Social Impact of the Internet on Our Society, (1999), Retrieved on 20th May 2010 from; http://www.math.umd.edu/~bnk/CAR/project.htm para 1
[4] Douglass Westwood. Impact of Technology Change, (2010). Retrieved on 20th May 2010 from;

http://www.sociologyguide.com/social-change/impact-of-technology-change.php. para 4

[5] Ahmet Eskicumali. The Effects of Internet Cafes on Social Change in Turkey: The Case of Hendek. The Turkish Online Journal of Educational Technology, (2010). vol.9, no. 2, p 2
[6] Ibid p 6
[7] Carolyn A. Lin & David J. Atkin. Communication technology and social change: theory and implications. Routledge. ISBN 0805856137, 9780805856132, (2007) p 175.
[8] Roxanne Friedenfels. Social Change: An Anthology. Rowman & Littlefield. ISBN 1882289595, 9781882289592, (1998) p 65
[9] Ahmet Eskicumali. The Effects of Internet Cafes on Social Change in Turkey: The Case of Hendek. The Turkish Online Journal of Educational Technology, (2010). vol.9, no. 2, p 7
[10] Carolyn A. Lin & David J. Atkin. Communication technology and social change: theory and implications. Routledge. ISBN 0805856137,  (2007) p 190.
[11] Veronica Bergschneider. Technology’s influence on interpersonal communication, (2010). Retrieved on 20th May 2010 from;

http://www.helium.com/items/1567920-technology-for-communicating para 3
[12] Carolyn A. Lin & David J. Atkin. Communication technology and social change: theory and implications. Routledge. ISBN 0805856137, 9780805856132, (2007) p 236

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