“Our technological powers increase, but the side effects and potential hazards also escalate”, said American writer Alvin Toffler. New data and reports show Toffler may have been correct in his statement. Every year, electronics increasingly become a part of the world. As I walk around the streets of Berkeley, Oakland, San Francisco or Danville, I see individuals immersed in devices. I see people out to dinner that prefer to text someone who isn’t currently with them. I see individuals crossing the street without looking because they are so involved with a facebook post or video game. Other times I see technology benefiting its user. An injured person, instantly calling an ambulance for help, an employee in India sending an important report to an American coworker via email. All these scenarios set the basis for my project. I saw that technology is used as a “bridge” to other realms. For example, cell phones can be a “bridge” to instantly communicate with people from other parts of the world, and computers can be a “bridge” to media sources such as local news sites or global networks. To get a sense of people’s relationships with technology, I conducted short interviews. I primarily focused on cell phones because they are such a major part of technology today but I also interviewed people with other devices to learn if cell phones were still the most popular devices. I found that people utilizing other electronics relied on their cell phones the most as a device. Each person had unique reasons why they used their device and its significance in his or her life. Most did not address the potential harm and concerns that these devices may bring. Through careful observation, I could see that these machines caused shorter attention spans for some, a strong desire for instant gratification, or compulsive behavior.
I then began researching studies, blogs, and statistics that provided explanations for both the high popularity of technological usage, and the effects of using electronics. Several studies showed that there has been an increase in technological usage over the years due to the convenience it provides as well as the push to purchase from top companies such as Apple, Android, and Microsoft. In 2012, there were 2.4 billion Internet users and currently smartphone subscriptions are at 1.5 billion, increasing 28 percent yearly in America. This growth in technological use has brought up concerns with the environment because of the equipment such as telephone poles and electronic wires it requires. Before cell phones, only telephone poles made of wood, metal, or concrete existed. However, due to the substantial increase of cell phones, cell phone towers, also called cell phone antennas, have been developed in addition to telephone poles. With both telephone poles and cellphone towers, concerns such as pollution, toxicity, and waste threaten the environment. Other concerns are related to the human brain and compulsive behavior. A New York Times poll found that the majority of Americans say that devices have improved their lives and made them easier, however; others say that devices have been intrusive, make it difficult to concentrate, and increase stress levels. Through these various forms of research, it is clear that technology highly impacts society through providing instant education, communication, and gratification. Though technology has benefited the majority by greater efficiency for life’s demands, it also introduces concerns with the environment, the human brain, and compulsive behavior.