Is technology really benefitting society

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Destruction due to Technology

Is technology really benefitting society or just leading to its downfall? This is a question one must ask themselves. Everyone has in one way or another been affected by technology whether bad or good. What was the impact of that experience like? Mary Kolesnikova, author of the essay "OMG! If LOL, then KMN!", explains the negative impacts technology has on society and its communication skills, giving real life examples of incidents that are embarrassing and shameful. "I've been asked how to spell "here" and "one" by high school seniors and seen more your/you're, there/their, to/too mix-ups than homophone workbook" (Kolesnikova, 623). Those are only communication skills that have been affected. Imagine how many more areas it can have an influence on. This is just one of many capabilities which have gone down the drain due to the abuse of technology. Similarly, Eric Brende author of the essay "No Technology? No Problem" stresses the use of technology as well and how it should not be made a necessity in life and is not required. Many feel and agree that technology is a great helping hand in our society and plays a major role throughout daily lives. This is a valid point and technology is definitely beneficial in everyday lives, but when abused it leads to these negative impacts. Due to the fact of the society not using technology in a practical way, individuals from ages eight to fifty are lacking basic skills required on a daily basis. While the use of technology may be helpful and a necessity in society today, if continually abused, will lead to a negative impact causing a lack in everyday required skills.

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Kolesnikova in her essay, stresses the role technology has on a society's writing skills and how it has affected her and those around her. She sums her point up into one main factor, this factor being that technology is causing the population to diminish the art of writing. "Chat slang is killing the craft of writing" (Kolesnikova, 623). In her essay she explains how the effects of technology and chat speak led to her depression. After a poll held by the Pew Research Center focusing on twelve to seventeen year olds about their use of chat-speak, about thirty eight percent said they let it slip into their homework and essays (Kolesnikova, 623). Kolesnikova is an occasional tutor in San Francisco public schools and she can't imagine how far chat speak has spread. Along with chat speak, she elucidates the use of emoticons in homework and essays as well. For those who may not know what emoticons are, they are defined as a sideways facial glyph used in e-mail to indicate an emotion or attitude, as to indicate humor [:-)]. According to the Pew Research Center, a poll resulted in twenty five percent of teens using emoticons in their tests, homework, and essays (Kolesnikova, 623). Kolesnikova states how it's a shame that the popular culture today is encouraging this madness and is going as far as creating chat speak its own wiki-dictionary. The U.S. Department of Education released the Nation's Report Card on Writing 2007 and only thirty three percent of eight graders demonstrated abilities at or above proficiency level (Kolesnikova, 623). This is yet the beginning and needs to be brought to an end before made worse.

Brende, in his essay, discusses a different, yet similar case of how technology is not a necessity and can lead to negative outcomes. After receiving his graduate degree in political science from MIT in 1992, he and his wife moved to an Amish-type community where they spent 18 months living without technological advances. "As MIT graduates go, I realize how unusual I am. I run a rickshaw service in downtown St. Louis, where I live. I make soap at home, and my wife sells it at the local farmer's market on Saturday's" (Brende, 619). After returning home he goes on to say that these habits stick with him and him and his family don't really feel a need for such advances. He also states that technology deprives an individual of needed physical activity and can lead to future issues. In the past individuals would jog, drive to the gym, or maybe even play sports in order to get in some exercise and stay healthy. Brende stresses that it has gotten to the point where some people perform hand-squeezing routines since computer keyboards do not offer the physical resistance they need and can lead to carpal tunnel syndrome (Brende, 621). In addition, he explains how technology is taking away quality time from families as well as affecting the human mental powers limiting the use of multiple capabilities. These are only a few of many factors that can lead to a downfall due to the abuse of technology.

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According to the texts stated above, a conclusion can be reached: the abuse of technology is leaving a negative impact on society. Both authors, though from different scenarios, have from personal experience recognized that technology is causing society to lack skills required on a daily basis. These skills include mental, communication, and physical capabilities. Kolesnikova's experience as stated above was as a tutor and she discovered that the students were lacking basic communication/writing skills. On the other hand, Brende took a total opposite view and unusual approach. Although an MIT graduate, he decided to live in an Amish-type community with his family for 18 months without any technological advances. He came to realize that not using technology came to his benefit, and for those who were continually around technology, they seemed to be lacking multiple capabilities. While both took different approaches, the results were the same. To persuade the reader and leave a long lasting impression they also ended their essays with an appealing last sentence. Kolesnikova ended stating that both parents and teens either fight now or face a sentence-less future of the three letter word OMG (Kolesnikova, 624). Brende, on the other hand, stated something quite different, yet relevant to the impact of technology. He stated that in a world superabundant in gadgets and gizmos, the richest among us are those who have mastered the delicate art of thinning out the excess, making way for the expression of their full humanity (Brende, 621).

It can be agreed that both authors make valid points in their essays. The use of technology has changed from what it may have been in the past. Younger and younger ages are being affected daily due to the use of these technological advances. Advances such as computers, cellular devices, and televisions have gotten to the point where people are helpless without them. According to freelance writer Leigh Goessl, kids today would have a pretty difficult time imaging life without such items (Goessl, n.pag). In the past children would spend their time running around, playing sports, and riding bicycles. Video games were played in the form of outdoor activities and everything was more relaxed. In present times almost every teen has some sort of technological device and never really takes the time to go out and get some fresh air. They are stuck on these digital toys all day and night without realizing it. Statistics show that in September 2008, Nielsen Mobile announced that teenagers with cell phones each sent and received on average, 1,742 text messages a month. At the time the number sounded high, but just a few months later Nielsen raised the tally to 2,272. A year earlier, the National School Boards Association estimated that middle- and high-school students devoted an average of nine hours to social networking each week. Add email, blogging, IM, tweets and other digital customs and you realize what kind of hurried, 24/7 communications system young people experience today (Bauerlein W.11). These advances are taking over lives and not being noticed. According to the American Record Guide the technocrats want an individual to think technology is neutral-want them to think that they are in charge. But more and more the individuals are technology's victims. Individuals are not running it; it is running them (Vroon, 53). It has also resulted in a major factor of stress, especially for parents. One may ask why? This is due to the fact that their children are more technologically advanced than they are. It is hard for a parent nowadays to keep track of their children when they themselves are not capable of some of the advances their kids have adapted to. Aside from the parents, teachers too are adapting to the stress. Students continually make the same writing mistakes on their homework and papers and fail to recognize it. This is due to their technological advances, allowing them to use chat speak, almost a whole new language. Mark Bauerlein, a professor of English at Emory University states that among the many effects of student careerism, campus marketing, Facebook, texting, and other anti-intellectual forces effecting undergraduates today the main force is the flat thoughtlessness to language (Philology, Etymology, and Phonetics, n.pag.). According to the District Administration Magazine students are taking advantage of technology. "The problem is students are using and abusing technology without understanding digital citizenship" (Ribble, 85).

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The misuse of technology is not only affecting an individual at present time, but can result in a long term issue as well. They adopt bad habits such as chat speak, which causes proper English to fade out of their lives, the excessive use of a calculator, which limits their mental capabilities, as well as being lazy and not going outdoors to get some required exercise which may lead to future health related issues. According to the American Record Guide, the problem with most of these technologies is that they isolate people, kill conversation, and encourage sedentary behavior (make people lazy and fat). They also waste time that may be useful (Vroon, 53). One example given by the author is television, which he feels leads to a plethora of problems.

"Television, for example, isolates people and destroys conversation. These days the family seldom even watches television together-there are too many sets in every household. TV destroys attention span-just another way it turns people against reading. It creates passivity, controls people's thoughts, sets the terms of politics, teaches people to want things they don't need, and stimulates the appetite for junk food. It is mind-numbingly intrusive and invasive. Its speed and aggression are downright pugnacious. It is even turning people into wimps" (Vroon, 53).

Brende in his essay makes a great reference to this explaining that these skills may not be as easy to acquire or recover after they are lost. "Multimedia devices erode and atrophy human mental powers and skills like reading and, perhaps because these are even harder to recover or even identify, these losses can contribute to a vague sense of uselessness which our antidepressants haven't been able to cure" (Brende, 621).

Technology is not necessarily a bad thing, but excessive use of it is resulting in negative outcomes. New technological advances are created daily to help enhance the way we live and factors related to it, but the excessive use of it is just making it problematic. Who doesn't want to use a calculator for those difficult problems, or use a cell phone to get a quick response? These advances are definitely beneficial, it's just when it becomes habitual that it causes issues. According to a study in Britain, the British are looking for a way to further incorporate cell phones into their lesson plans for the future. "We hope that, in the future, mobile phone use will be as natural as using any other technology in school," says Elizabeth Hartnell- Young, University of Nottingham research fellow and study co-author (Docksai, 10). Technology can always result in benefits if used in a particular manner; America just has a habit of abusing anything it can come across which results in the downfalls. "It's like everything else; you have to be careful about it. There's proper and improper use" (Docksai, 11).

Technology is definitely a major factor in the daily lives of many, but if continually abused it could result in negative outcomes. Kolesnikova and Brende stress the impact it has left on them and society in general. Constant use of technological advances can lead to issues involving an individual's everyday skills and capabilities. It's up to the user to use it with caution and understand the dangers of it. If day by day examples and incidents go to show the impact and destruction it has caused already, than why further encourage it? These advances are to be used with limits, and should be taken into consideration when operated. Overall, it is up to those who are already abusing it to cut down. If continually abused, such advances may be banned.

Works Cited

  • Bauerlein, Mark "Why Gen-Y Johnny Can't Read Nonverbal Cues." Wall Street Journal - Eastern Edition 28 Aug. 2009: W11. Academic Search Premier. EBSCO. Web. 6 Nov. 2009.
  • Brende, Eric. "No Technology? No Problem". Readings for Writers (13th Edition). Ed. Jo Ray McCuen-Metherell and Anthony C.Winkler. Boston: Cengage Learning, 2010. 618-621.
  • Docksai, Rick "Teens and Cell Phones." Futurist 43.1 (2009): 10-11. Academic Search Premier. EBSCO. Web. 4 Nov. 2009.
  • Goessl, Leigh. "Technology: Its effects on children." www.Helium.com. 3 Nov. 2009 .
  • Kolesnikova, Mary. "OMG! If LOL, then KMN!". Readings for Writers (13th Edition). Ed. Jo Ray McCuen-Metherell and Anthony C.Winkler. Boston: Cengage Learning, 2010. 623-625.
  • "Philology, Etymology, and Phonetics." Chronicle of Higher Education 56.4/5 (2009): B2. Academic Search Premier. EBSCO. Web. 4 Nov. 2009.
  • Ribble, Mike S., and Gerald D. Bailey "Districts should teach their students digital smarts." District Administration 40.10 (2004): 85. Academic Search Premier. EBSCO. Web. 4 Nov. 2009.
  • Vroon "The Distracted Generation Victims of Technology." American Record Guide 72.3 (2009): 53-54. Academic Search Premier. EBSCO. Web. 6 Nov. 2009.