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Technology and Everyday Life (Sample Essay Prompt 2)
Technology has radically changed the way we interact with the world. Not long ago, individuals who wanted to get in touch had to do so either by meeting in person or sending messages through postal mail. In order to perform most types of research, people were forced to visit physical libraries, bookstores or archives. Over the past two decades, technology has rendered many of these time-consuming tasks obsolete. Messages can be sent anywhere in the world via email in only a matter of seconds. All sorts of information is available with the click of a smart phone button. People can not only call individuals anytime, but they can also access their geolocation on demand. It seems like everyone is on his or her smart phone every waking minute. Has this increase in the power and reach of technology bettered out lives?
Read and carefully consider these perspectives. Each suggests a particular way of thinking about the presence of technology in our lives.
Today’s technology has greatly bettered our lives. Individuals are more connected to the information and people they want to connect with, and the result is smarter, happier and more fulfilled human beings.
Technology promises to “connect” us with one another. But look around and you’ll see how disconnected it’s made us—individuals no longer interact with one another because they’ve become so consumed by their phones and devices.
Technology may have made the world a better place for those who have access to it, but its prohibitive costs have made it inaccessible, and consequently unhelpful, to too many people.
Write a unified, coherent essay in which you evaluate multiple perspectives on the impact of technology on our lives. In your essay, be sure to:
Here’s the essay:
Technology has made previously cumbersome and inconvenient tasks much easier. One such task is research, which used to have to be done at physical libraries using physical books, microfilm, recordings, etc. Another is telecommunications, which used to be expensive and rather limited (e.g., telephone calls could be made only to wired phones with some rare exceptions until the 1990s, and even then, it was not until the late 1990s or early 2000s that cell phone technology became cheap enough for widespread use). Now, research is available from almost any location on Earth, 24 hours per day, 7 days per week, on computers, tablets, cell phones, and other devices through the World Wide Web. No longer is research limited to the hours physical libraries are open. No longer are we limited to calling people overseas or even in different states or cities to “when the rates are cheap.” No longer must we wait days or weeks to send postal mail, when email will reach virtually anywhere on this planet within milliseconds. However, this vast increase in communications and information technology leads to, but does not answer the question “Has this increase in the power and reach of technology bettered our lives?”, as asked in the essay prompt. There are three perspectives provided in the essay prompt, which I will discuss below, along with my own perspective.
The first perspective given is “Today’s technology has greatly bettered our lives. Individuals are more connected to the information and people they want to connect with, and the result is smarter, happier, and more fulfilled human beings.” This perspective is very optimistic. While the Internet and similar information and communication technology has allowed people to seek out and connect with like-minded people around the world, it also has allowed people to create ideological or intellectual “echo chambers” where people can seal out ideas with which they do not agree and simply see and hear only opinions that match or complement their own. Since a robust exchange of ideas, and competition between ideas is crucial to the development of the moral and intellectual development of individuals, as well as that of society at large, it is crucial that people occasionally be confronted with ideas that challenge their already-held beliefs. Without such exchanges, slavery, Jim Crow laws, overt and outrageous sexism, and the like would still be acceptable in our society.
Similarly, while the Internet is a wonderful place to obtain information quickly, even information that might have taken hours of book research to obtain before the advent of the Internet, it is also a source of false information, whether simply mistaken information posted in good faith, or deliberate disinformation. For that reason, while people may often be “happier” when they encounter websites that validate their perspectives, they are not “smarter” if that information is not actually correct. Therefore, Perspective One is correct only to the extent that people can weed out disinformation and misinformation, and use only credible sources when doing research.
Finally, people’s ability to reach people they want to connect with is countered by the ability for people they do not wish to connect with to contact them. Because of technological advances, automated “robo-calls” are incredibly cheap, and allow for scammers and con artists to defraud the naïve and gullible in our society. More regulation, both legal and technological, is needed to correct this problem. These calls should be illegal and phone companies should be required to stop them.
The second perspective, that while technology promises to connect us, but actually isolates us because we are often too engrossed in our phones and computers to interact with people around us, is somewhat accurate, but a bit too pessimistic. Yes, many people, especially teenagers, will choose the “company” of online friends over people who actually live near them, in search of people whose interests, ideas, and personalities match their own. However is not necessarily bad. A theater buff who lives in a neighborhood dominated mostly by hockey and monster truck rally fans may find solace in reaching out to other theater buffs on the Internet. People who are isolated by disabilities, or unusual personality traits, such as an odd sense of humor, may also find kindred spirits online. The same can be said for lesbian, gay, transgender, or bisexual youth, and so on. Therefore, the idea that finding friends and following interests online is always worse than participating in the life of the physical community in which a person lives is not completely correct.
Perspective Three states that technology can only help those who can afford it, and that high costs of technology (e.g., expensive phones, computers, access) make it inaccessible to at least some people who need it desperately. While it is true that an iPhone X, the latest Samsung Galaxy, or the like is very expensive, some smartphones can be had for cheap or for free. Free “Obama phones” given to the indigent will access the Web as well as make and receive phone calls. Many people will give away perfectly good smartphones because they’re not the latest technology. Many municipalities offer free WiFi access, as do many colleges, businesses, and the like. As such, cost is not such a burdensome issue that many people are left out of the information revolution.
My perspective is a synthesis of all three perspectives. The Internet and other communications technology are wonderful tools when used wisely. People must learn to use discretion in determining what sources of information are good, and what ones aren’t. The access is very cheap, but we must always make sure the poor can use the Internet. Finally, we should not neglect our own physical communities while we pursue our online interests. I see no reason why we cannot reach a healthy balance here. As such, this technology is a net gain for society.
Author: John Linneball Who did you think? ;-)
I'm the proprietor and only tutor for this business; that's why I named it after me.