It seems like at least once a week a new study comes out about how children are being hurt by screens, how we take years off of our lives by spending so much time looking at pixels, and how people “don’t talk anymore.” While I’ll accept that some of these concerns are valid (maybe your 6 month old doesn’t need an iPad), I do not agree that modern computing technology is a negative addition to most of our lives. I think it has liberated us, and allows us to be more effective as a species. While there are obviously many business applications that would not be possible without digital technology, there are a few areas I think modern computing has had a huge impact in the quality of life for everyday people (not just businesses watching their bottom lines):
By far one of the most drastic cultural changes we’ve seen in the past ten years is how people date. While mobile dating was starting to take hold in 2003 with ProxiDating, it didn’t really come into its own until the iPhone launched in 2007, and with it, a whole new world of possibilities for those seeking love online.
If you transported someone from 2000 to the modern day and told them about dating apps, they would likely have questions about safety, and just, well, why we would want that. It’s true, we’ve come a long way when it comes to trusting strangers, but I think most of us can agree it’s nice to have another option that “friendcest” and blind dates with our parent’s friend’s kids.
You may have mixed feelings on this, but there’s no denying that modern computing, the internet and smartphones allow many of us much greater freedom with where and how we work. Instead of being tied to an office all day, an increasing number of companies are offering remote work time as a perk – that is, the ability to work wherever, as long as their assignments get done. In fact, at least half of the US workforce now holds a job that is compatible with at least some teleworking, and 80-90% say they’d like to telework at least some of the time.
Companies not getting on the remote working bandwagon fast enough is at least some of the reason why we’re also seeing a massive rise in contract working. This isn’t surprising when you remember that millennials are now the dominant age group in the workforce, and they care more about happiness than money (which I, for one, think is great).
It used to be that if you moved across the country, or were busy with your own life for a while, you’d just “lose touch” with the people who mattered to you before. It’s difficult to set up a call with every friend back home when you’re out making new friends in your new home, and if you’re stressed with a life event it can seem like an added burden to make a coffee date, perhaps while you wrangle a new baby or navigate a career crisis. While many bemoan social media as the death of real friendships, I’d solidly count myself in the group that thinks they’re maintaining more friendships.
What is a friendship, anyways? I believe it’s more than just those super-meaningful, life changing late night conversations about purpose, religion, and our future. I think part of being a great friend really is looking at dumb videos, hearing the song that they’re into right now, and maybe knowing about their delicious new breakfast go-to recipe. We can get that information through Facebook, Twitter and Instagram now, which means that if you can’t be a “good friend” for a while, you can still maintain the relationship and pick up where you left off. Haven’t spoken in literally years with your old high school buddy? That’s okay – you can look up what she’s currently up to, and have a meaningful conversation immediately after contacting her, instead of having to wade through small talk.
Next time you’re considering complaining about screens, social media or other computing technology ruining the “good ol’ days,” I encourage you to really take stock of where you are in life today. Think about the good things you’ve gotten from having those tools – I have a feeling they’ll outweigh the bad.
This post is part of our contributor series. It is written and published independently of TNW.