Technology and Modern America

by Matthew Hall

Living in modern America is both a blessing and curse. Technology has become so superfluously smart and easy, that it’s making people lazy. Frankly, people are forgetting how to live. The dichotomy of technology is that of a conundrum- faster, better, and more reliable technology makes it easier than ever before to communicate with one another. However, the ability to shoot a text message and have it received by the recipient a mere second later, makes us all the more lazier.

In 1976, my father turned twenty two. I will be turning twenty two later this year, and it fascinates me to think about the differences between our lifestyles. In 1976 Steve Jobs was working for Atari, and Apple had started their business in his garage. The Honda Accord was introduced, and the number one song on the radio was Barry Manilow’s, “I Write the Songs.” In 2011, Apple has more cash than the U.S. Treasury, we have cars that alert you when you fall asleep at the wheel, and teenage girls are tweeting about Bieber fever.

The fact that we have cars manufactured to alert someone when they fall asleep at the wheel is a nightmare, and signifies how lazy Americans are becoming. Throughout technological advances, i’m more intrigued by texting. I grew up in a generation which I can still remember using a land line and not owning a cell phone (which I look back up on with great nostalgia.) I remember calling my first high school girlfriend on my land line, and having my brother eaves drop on the conversation. However, even though the brother aspect was a pain, conversations on land lines felt like they meant more than any text message. Now, it is hard to walk through the Portland State University Campus without walking into someone, do to their fixation on their cellular phone.

Texting while driving has become a serious issue. If you have almost walked into someone because of certain phone distractions, I highly recommend you don’t text while driving. In 2006, Liberty Mutual Insurance Group held a survey of 900 teens from over 26 different high schools. 37% of students found texting “extremely” or “very” dangerous. In a 2009 Car and Driver experiment, the editor- Eddie Alterman discovered just how dangerous the effects of texting and driving could be. Legally drunk, Alterman had a stopping distance from 70 mph that increased by 4 feet. In contrast, reading an e-mail added 36 feet, and sending a text message added 70 feet. Looking at this information, unimpaired it takes .53 seconds to brake. Legally drunk, add 4 feet on to that. Here’s where it gets scary, Reading an e-mail, add 36 feet to that, but with sending a text, add 70 feet on to that.

The problem of texting runs deeper than adding 70 feet the application of braking however. There have been countless times i’ve been trying to enjoy the company of friends, however they’re so glued to their cellular devices, it’s like they’re not even there. If I wanted to hangout with their phone, that person could have stayed at their house. The same goes with tweeting, why not talk about the restaurant with the person you’re with rather than tweet that you just arrived there. In a society in which technological advances are both awe inspiring and head scratching, it’s important to remember what life can be without distractions.

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