These days it seems like everywhere you turn, there is some personal tech connecting people with everything from social media to health tracking software and GPS. I have seen my fair share of people walking directly into street lights while using their phones or looking at their wearables. If I’m honest, I’m no better, always stopping to check my Twitter notifications and to see if I gained followers or last some. This is the world we live in. Our world is connected. Our way of life is connected. We are connected.
It might appear like something out of a sci-fi thriller wherein the protagonist is fighting robots to prevent them from taking over the world. One might entertain images of The Matrix, or Blade Runner, or perhaps The Lawnmower Man.
The world of technology can be scary, but today I want to counteract all the negativity going around about tech destroying the fabric of society. Today I want to talk about the upside of tech and what we can gain.
Let me start with a little personal story. I have a bit of a heart condition, nothing too severe, but I have to keep track of my heart rate. Believe me, when I tell you, trying to carry a blood pressure cuff around is annoying.
But as luck would have it, my phone can check my heart rate and oxygen saturation for me, and I can submit this data directly to my doctor. This little modification to my life has made all the difference. I feel safer now and tend to worry a little less. But that’s just me, I’m already a tech geek, or I wouldn’t be writing this in the first place.
So how can modern tech help others? Well, sit tight, and I’ll give you some of my favorite examples. Let’s start with a group of people whom you might think would be the least likely to make it into an article about technology enriching our lives.
We all know someone who curses the very existence of modern smartphones and fancy talking coasters, it’s a part of life, the older you get, the less likely you are to adapt to change. That being said, did you know how many people, elderly or otherwise, now have implanted insulin injectors to manage their type 1 diabetes?
No more jabs and shots, just a bonafide “cyborg” insulin pump. Or how about the mind-boggling advances in hearing-aid technology? My grandfather, at one point, couldn’t hear a bee if it flew into his ear and played a concerto in F-sharp major, with his hearing-aid, which is now outdated, he can hear, not that he ever uses it but he could.
I realize these issues do not only affect the elderly, but it brings me so much joy to see them living their golden years free of the worries they might have had twenty years ago.
Scholars, researchers, knowledge seekers
We’re all hurtling around the sun at a rate of 67,000 mph (107,000 km/h) and rotating at an equatorial speed of about 1,000 mph (1609.34 km/h), I think. My point, other than being a geek, is how do we know something like this?
One answer is that this is the work of a vast amount of astronomers, physicists, astronauts, and engineers who amassed and researched this knowledge throughout the history of humankind. But how did I acquire this knowledge then? I asked Google to tell me. Yeah, I asked my phone a question, and it answered me.
Despite some questionable media outlets telling us we are all going to die and the flat earth society swearing up and down that our planet is some disk, next to other publications with unclear motivations, we have a wealth of knowledge at our fingertips. And while we can access this information, everyone still needs to be cautious of fake news and pseudoscience.
The kids are alright
Kids as well can benefit from technology and the ability to gather information or communicate with their laptops, tablets, smartphones, or other devices. Sometimes I feel like people have it out for kids. I hear it more than I would like. Some random person might be complaining that kids always have their faces in their phones and that they should read a book or talk to a person instead. They don’t realize that the books are on the phones and tablets and that with things like Discord, Twitter, and TikTok, kids are connecting socially more than ever. They created a global society right under our noses, and all they needed was a way to connect.
Kids today have the potential to be “smarter” in comparison to one or two decades ago. They might know things I never will and can order coffee on their watches if they want to. Honestly, I am overwhelmed with joy when I see the resources that are at the hands of the next generation. Luckily for us, it’s not just kids, heck, as usual, I’m writing this article on my phone and talking to people in a dozen different countries, all without ever having to pay those pesky long distance charges. Remember those?
Health and wellness
Backtracking a bit, I wanted to focus on some of the health and wellness technologies out there in the world today. Fitbit, RingFit, and other solutions, guided breathing and meditation apps as well on just about every sort of personal device. With the new digital wellbeing trending, that’s been sweeping the world, something pretty amazing has happened.
Take one part stats from your device, one part social media, and one part enthusiasm, and we’ve created a new form of motivation, and we now compete to see who can become the healthiest person in our circle. The score is measured in progress, the fans are on Twitter and Facebook cheering for their favorite person, and people are excited about being healthy! Truly a beautiful thing.
It’s no secret that we live in a world with dangers, it’s a beautiful world, but it has its thorns and pests like many things in nature as well. Safety will always be one of our primary concerns. As humans, it’s hard-coded into our behavior and priorities.
Thankfully we have things to help to keep us safe. From smartphones with SOS mode to 130 dB electronic whistles, and more, we have developed systems and technology to keep ourselves safe more easily. To give you an idea about the loudness, 130 decibels in sound pressure level are about as loud as standing directly next to a jet afterburner during takeoff. This is not pleasant to experience, likely to cause injury if exposed directly but most importantly, people are going to hear it.
Today’s world might seem overwhelming at times, and the learning curve for our generation might be steep. But, I’m talking to someone in Germany right now while sitting on my couch in California. I have my heart monitor available, I have access to my family and friends all over the world, I have access to the web anywhere I go, and I’m pretty sure I have a sonic screwdriver around here, somewhere.
We live in a truly fantastic time for tech. We can use it to bridge language gaps with translators and span thousands of miles in milliseconds. We can monitor our own and the health of our loved ones as well as entertain our poor tired brains. We have a wealth of information in front of us, and it’s an open road. The world is open source and waiting. All we have to do is reach out and touch it.
That’s it for me for now, it’s 6:00 am, I need coffee, which I will ironically be making in a decidedly no techy pour-over, but I’ll use my grinder to mill the coffee stones first. You take care and never stop reaching. I’ll catch you next time.
Photo credit: The feature image has been done by Fábio Lucas. The photo “woman standing on ice” has been taken by Guilherme Stecanella. The picture with the Apple watch has been prepared by Luke Chesser. The photo with a happy group of people has been taken by A.R.T. Paola.
Editorial notice: This article has been prepared as an op-ed article featuring the personal thoughts and opinions of the author which does not necessarily have to reflect the stance of the publication. Some of the links in this article are affiliate links. Without additional cost to you, we might earn a commission if you decide to purchase something.