The age of technology: The rise of technology in the 21st century

design: Teresa Christian

Movies like “Back to the Future” looked into the future to predict the state of the world now. Flying cars were expected to be within society by 2020 but evidently, that didn’t happen.

Many expectations were created from movies and other forms of media and entertainment. 

“Our society expected better A.I., kind of like ‘Iron Man’. Movies that we see create a lot of expectations from society,” senior Matt Hopkins said. 

These shortfalls have become the basis for people’s hopes in the future regarding new innovations. In addition to A.I., many hope to see advances in other fields. 

“I would like to see medical technology available to everyone,” Visual Art & Industrial Technology Department Co-Chair Stephanie Forney said. “We should be MRI/PET scanned every five years so that we can catch things like cancer and other diseases or conditions earlier and hopefully have better treatments for them.” 

In addition to new medical advances, concerns about the environment are growing as well. New opportunities are widely available to increase the technology to help reduce climate change.

“I hope we are able to achieve better efficiency with technology relating to renewable energy. I also hope electric cars continue to develop because this would not just benefit myself, but also others and generations to come. It would also benefit the environment and the Earth,” Hopkins said.

These hopes for the future are beneficial to keep new innovations coming for a better tomorrow. Nevertheless some complications will arise from the market associated with technological advances.

“Although my hopes for the future are high, they’re dwindling. The unfortunate reality is that research and development is largely influenced by the market and complicated stock arrows going up and down,” the robotics captain of design and junior Kaleb Duarte said. “Threats of shrinking profit margins via technological advancements inhibit humanity’s ability to progress.”

Whether one believes in the future or is becoming more skeptical of what lies ahead, one thing is certainly going to impact everyone: there will always be more to come. In the school, workplaces and in homes new advances will change the way society operates.

“Technology is a constantly evolving game with education; as soon as we get access to the newest hardware or technology in education, it’s basically already outdated,” Forney said. “I’ve been teaching for 18 years, and when I started teaching, computer art was still very new and expensive. Now we can do some digital art on our phones.

“We are fortunate in OLSD to have a district that attempts to keep us up-to-date with newer software and cycles us through a recycling process with computers/hardware. It’s an expensive game, but digital art has changed for the better and continues to evolve as a fine art medium.”

With the rise of the presence of technology in everyday lives, some have come to question its rightful place and whether or not it has become too much. Within the world of technology, the rise of social media has also come into play. One of the earliest and most popular social media sites was MySpace, which was founded in 2003, according to Maryville University. From there, the social networking world has only continued to expand with sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. 

For people today, especially teenagers, Instagram has definitely become the most popular social media platform. According to CNBC, just last year Instagram recorded having over two billion monthly active users. While it is clear that many people in the world use Instagram nowadays, it has become very addictive for some. The American Psychological Association (APA) reported that users often spend at least 30 minutes every day on the app. This makes the fact that the site has been associated with decreasing mental health a larger issue.

A user’s constant viewing of society’s beauty standards on Instagram can lead to many negative effects toward an individual’s mental health. According to the APA, consistent use of Instagram has been proven to lead to lowered self-esteem issues due to the viewing of largely edited photos on the site. These often come from Instagram influencers- people with large followings who post about their everyday lives. However, many times their posts about their “everyday lives” are glamorized and do not show the whole picture.

“I would say that the majority of Instagram influencers have negatively affected my mental health because people only tend to post the highlights of their lives,” senior Macie Smith said. Smith has been an active user of the social media platform since 2015. “In doing so, it makes them look like they have it all: the money, the body and the life. They’re setting unrealistic standards for people who follow them.”

This harm that is caused by Instagram has been widely recognized, especially the harm it does to its younger users. So much so, that Head of Instagram Adam Mosseri testified to the United States Congress at the end of 2021. According to CNN, Mosseri spoke regarding the concerns that many parents have about their children using Instagram, and how it affects the state of their mental health, as well as their self esteem.

“A negative effect from Instagram is definitely how it’s lowered my self esteem. When I would follow people who only posted their body and pictures of themselves, I would compare myself to them and it would harm my self esteem,” Smith said.

However, while there has been large criticism towards Instagram and social media platforms of its kind, there can also be positive effects that come from being an active user. It has the potential to lead to a sense of belonging for some users. 

“Something positive I have found from Instagram is following influencers with similar interests as me. When they post about those interests, it can be a good thing, and it allows for me to sort of feel a sense of community,” Smith said. 

 In the age of technology and advancement, many teens have grown up with easy access to electronic devices and the internet. While technology is thought of as beneficial, quick and easy, it also brings about some dangers. Cybercrimes have become increasingly popular and social media allows for widespread easy cyberbullying.

Since technology is such a big part of teenagers’ lives today- parents in particular try to pry into their teens’ lives on the grounds of protection. Where the line between protection and invasion lies is up for debate, but it cannot be denied that technological advancements have one of the biggest effects on teenagers- beneficial or not.

Creation of apps like Life360 or LifeSentence360, a name popularized by teens on TikTok, have been highly controversial. Some parents say it’s on the grounds of protection while teens may argue that it’s an invasion of their privacy and hindering them from experiencing the “teenage dream”.

“It’s not really about being sneaky or hiding things from my parents. Life360 makes it feel like they don’t trust me to make the right decisions and are always monitoring me,” sophomore Maryn Zavislak said.

Zavislak is in a Life360 group with her family. This app sends notifications about whereabouts, allows those who upgrade to the Gold Membership to see the driving speed of members in a group and alerts about things such as phone battery percentage. Zavislak’s mother has a different perspective on the app.

“It benefits me to see how close or far away a family member is. If I can’t get a hold of them, I am able to see that their phone is dead or where they are. It gives me peace of mind to know that my family members have arrived and are where they are supposed to be,” Maryn’s mother Kim Zavislak said.

This is the perspective of many parents who download the app. They see it as more of a protective measure rather than an invasion of privacy.

An unscientific survey conducted on the student body of the high school found that 66.1 percent of students find Life360 to be an invasion of privacy. It also showed that 44.4 percent of students are in a Life360 group or are monitored on Life360 by their parents.

Within these responses, the majority of students who had Life360 with their parents are the ones who found it to be an invasion of privacy. Those who believed that it wasn’t noted that their parents did not actively monitor them and used it only when necessary.

There is a clear distinction between high schoolers and their parents when it comes to views on tracking apps. While many parents see it as a necessity in today’s world, many high schoolers dislike the apps that allow their parents to monitor them constantly.

But on its base level is Life360 really a safe app?

 It was recently discovered that data collecting apps, such as Life360, sell data to data brokers and pretty much anyone who can afford to buy it according to CNET. This brings about the idea of those who buy the data tracing it back to specific users and since it tracks location the dangers of this are evident.       

“I was not aware that Life306 sold user data,” sophomore Savanna Shaw said. “I didn’t think that the app was safe in the first place if it constantly knows where you are all the time.”

Shaw continues that there are both pros and cons to apps like these. While it can be beneficial to help parents stress less about where their kids are, it also doesn’t give kids any freedom.

The problem is that while teenagers believe their parents to be the invaders by using Life360, the app itself could be more of a danger than people want to admit.

As the world and technology changes, new apps and companies come to light and rise in popularity amongst society. 

Though Zoom has been around since 2011, its name stayed under wraps for many years that followed. But as circumstances changed and the pandemic began to grow, its name was soon recognized by everyone.

COVID-19 has impacted the world in every way possible, and its effect on technology has been most notable over the past two years. Businesses have changed drastically and each company has evolved to the virtual lifestyle in some capacity.

CEO and Medical Director of Netcare Access Dr. Brian Stroh said that adjusting his company was not easy, “We have had to do lots of things with technology and a lot of them involved seeing patients by telemedicine (virtual doctors appointments). We had to figure out how to have staff work from home at the start of the time; we weren’t really prepared for that.”

In addition to changing how a company operates, many businesses have also had to change the kind of technology that they employ. From using new software technology to new technology itself, global society has entered a new age.

“We use Zoom a lot, and if we do a video conference internally we use Zoom. But then, other companies use other things and you end up using Microsoft Teams because somebody else uses it or you use Webex because someone else uses it. It’s pretty common that companies pick the one they use, but you have to be ready to use all the other ones too,” Stroh said.

         The use of virtual services is not exclusive from company to company though. Oftentimes, businesses use Zoom and other forms of communication to meet with customers.

“Covid has really increased virtual communication with both our employees and now our customers. In the sales world, it is common to have virtual calls with employees because sales reps are all over the U.S. and there is typically only one home office,” a sales manager at a healthcare company who wishes to remain anonymous said. “Virtual technology has allowed us to continue to conduct business and partner with our customers without disruption.”

Without technology, companies are not able to operate, it is used in every aspect of how a company functions. It is more efficient and has made business operations much simpler.

“All of our medical records are electronic; email is the lifeblood of our business, and our phone systems run over the internet. We have four different buildings and those are all connected in different ways. Technology is so important to us that now every building has a backup internet connection to it because we can’t afford for one building to go down,” Stroh said.

The evolution of technology is extremely important and without it, communication and the continuation of businesses would not be as successful as they were during the earlier stages of the pandemic.

“When you think about it, the cell phone that you and I were talking on just a few generations ago, which is to say like 10 years ago, there’s no way you could use that to do Zoom or anything else. Now, nobody questions it. The GPS tracking that we use for people that are out in the fields, we know where they are, we know that they’re safe, you couldn’t do that with a phone before.

As technology goes on and on and on, we become more independent of an actual office space and for what we do. It means we go out in the community and take care of patients instead of insisting that they come to us,” Stroh said.

Though technology has changed significantly in the last two years, it will continue to evolve and develop. As technology improves, so does the efficiency of business.

“Research and development will be using technology to create products that will lead to direct cures for conditions due to the scientific advances that should come. It will greatly influence disease treatments and current extreme side effects will be greatly improved or eliminated,” said the sales manager.

However, as much as technology is needed, there are some things that technology can never replace. Especially in the world of business, technology is incapable of interaction.

“I don’t think [technology will replace humans] any time soon. The ability to understand human emotions and how humans think and why they do what they do, I don’t think we’re there anytime soon,” Stroh said.

Technology is not yet capable of reading human emotion which makes business more difficult to only operate things virtually; human connection is still very important.

“In sales, one thing we learned from COVID-19 is that people still want to buy from people directly, so hopefully, this would be a profession that could remain. However, every possible technology would change how things could be sold and COVID-19 has made using virtual technology mainstream. It could really start replacing different jobs or the frequency of meeting face to face,” the sales manager said.

Technology will always continue to grow and change because it is necessary, especially for the medical side of business.        

“In healthcare, I think you see a lot of innovation and technology first because we all are just looking for an easier way to get a better answer, and healthcare is a very natural, logical place for that to happen,” Stroh said.

Though the pandemic has brought upon a lot of negativity in the way it has impacted society, it has not failed in the technological aspect. The world has advanced communication, increased efficiency and the world will forever be changed as a result of COVID-19.