Reflecting on Chapter 9 made me realize how important the technologies of the Digital Age have become in our everyday lives. As cell phones have transformed from communication devices to small computers essentially, we are constantly connected to information and one another. From start to finish, our days are convenienced, if not governed by the use of media. I wake up in the morning and I check my Weather App to decide how to dress. I check my emails for any class updates and I use music apps such as Pandora and Spotify on my commute. I use Google Maps for directions and online encyclopedias, search engines and digital libraries for school work. I communicate with others through text and mobile phone, Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat. There is almost nothing that cannot be accessed from a modern day smartphone.
We often take these technologies for granted but many of us grew up in an age where the Web was just beginning to develop. I remember the days of AIM, dial up and flip phones, things that we probably would laugh about if they were still used today. Our parents’ generation can remember the days even before that, when you had to use a physical map to navigate and actually go to a library to do research. Web 2.0 has made such monumental progressions in the past 20 years that it even technologies that are five or ten years old are practically irrelevant and archaic today.
Not only have smartphones literally mobilized internet access through the use of Wifi and 4G service, but it has also mobilized the exchange of ideas, global communication and political and social movements. Think about the growth of movements such as Black Lives Matter and the Occupy Movement and how much they have been impacted by media and our ability to share photos, videos and connect with people across the country and world. The access to all of these media has provided the opportunity for increased social consciousness, political engagement and free dispersal of information. Technology and media convergence has changed American culture and the way we not only relate to the world, but to other people. It has an impact on our self-concepts and images, consumer and fashion trends, political opinions and at a very base level, our minds. With that being said, are the moral and human ecological costs of technology progression (access to potentially harmful information, hate speech, cultural fragmentation, political polarization) worth the benefits (access to potentially important information for making decisions, increased social awareness, free speech)?