Has the increasing power and ubiquity of technology made our lives better overall? Think about this in relation to the radical social, economic and political changes brought about by the Industrial Revolution.
Overall, I would say technology has improved our lives; technology is dangerous when misused and overused. The Industrial Revolution, aside from the Irish Potato Famine (which is frequently blamed on the Irish government and old fashioned agricultural methods), maximized the results of agricultural production through mechanization. Famines, once rampant and frequent, could be kept under control with innovative agricultural machinery of the Industrial Revolution. The lower class could focus on other priorities besides avoiding a famine, finally. While factories earned a negative connotation with stories of their environment-damaging, childhood-ruining habits, Great Britain set itself farther apart from its European peers through the rise of factory cities such as Manchester. This efficiency has continued today, keeping the US successful in the modern economy. (KatieMayo)
I agree with Katie, although I would add to her caveat to say that technology is also dangerous when the people who build the cotton gins, reapers, and iPads are treated as poorly as they often are. The Industrial Revolution made transportation inexpensive and accessible. Communication was sped up with the telegraph and has continued to improve all the way to Twitter. Medical and agricultural advances made it much less likely that people will die from a minor illness or from one bad crop year. Suddenly, members of the middle class could do things - take vacations in places like Brighton, buy clothes rather than making them at home - that had previously been limited to the upper crust. Many lives were much improved, although I doubt that was much comfort to the little kids suffering in factories. (Jane Wester)
Lives, including mine, have improved due to advances in Technology. Nevertheless it should be a personal goal of everyone never to let technology dominate the connection to nature and the connection to one another. For example, the factories springing up around Europe that brought incredible social, cultural, and environmental consequences. Now all stages of production were in one place. Cotton goods used to be made in homes, but now the machinery allowed for a more efficient production and output. But, even though it benefitted the British economically, many people's jobs were now replaced by a machine. Ipods, cellphones, and TV have brought amazing change to this world, but in my opinion they significantly weaken the ability to connect to others on a more personal level. Just because technology makes for a more comfortable lifestyle, does not mean it is a better one. I believe that technology can prove beneficial to society, but if we are not careful technology could control us more than we control it. (Ellie Sheild).
Although it is impossible to deny the progress that has been made possible by technology, I would have to say technology has not bettered our lives overall. In my opinion, humans have become dependent upon technology and machines, a dependence that is encouraged by materialism. Instead of conforming to societal conventions, I feel as though there should be a greater stress on the individual quest for the sublime. Like Romantics, I think raw imagination and emotion should be valued over machines and technology. We ought to strive to transcend to a higher and more natural state, a state where there is no societal hierarchy but instead a pantheistic unity between God, man, and nature, but technology and machines hinder this transcendence. Only after we have achieved this pure pantheistic unity as a society can we truly become (or at least have a chance at becoming) a perfect society. (Meaghan Shimota)
In brief, I think that technology has improved our lives due to advances in medecine, transportation, communication, and science. However, I'm going to focus on the drawbacks of technology as it makes for a more interesting argument and I'll specifically deal with interpersonal interactions. I think communications technology (e.g., the internet and cellphones) has striped some of the inter workings of true communication. By this convoluted statement, I mean that communication between people is reduced down to a game instead of leading to a more fluid transmission of ideas and thoughts. Conversations through texting have expected answers, people desire to be gratified through a "haha" or ":)". Similarly, Facebook posts are just attempts to gain attention, with the poster desiring to be "liked", with the like acting as some existential gratification. Thus, communication becomes about pushing the right buttons and sending the right emoticons, as the true emotions of the person you are conversing with is obfuscated. In a real conversation, there is still a degree of mechanization; however, the real emotions of the other person can still be seen. On the internet or when using cellphones, you don't really know the true emotional state of the person you are conversing with as they are hidden by a screen. When communication becomes focused on sending the right message as opposed to understanding the emotions of the person you are conversing with, then the free flow of ideas stops. We lose the dynamic interchange of different paradigms of thought that define true interaction, and, when all the dust settles, we are just robots, reacting to the binary stimulus of another person. Also, the Arab Spring was cool.-David Farrow
I think that technology has drastically improved our lives. Without the mechanization and industrialization that erupted during the Industrial Revolution, the United States, and other prominent countries around the world would not be as successful as they are today. Technology has brought great improvements to the American society such as the iPod, iPhone, and laptop computers in the recent years. In the period of the Industrial Revolution, new creations of technology helped improve efficiency and practicality that leads directly to increased profits. New inventions like the cotton gin and the steam engine helped modernize society and improve ultimate production. However, I can see the opposite argument condemning the power technology. If technology is used in excessive amounts, it can lead to detrimental effects such as a lack of ability to communicate. During the industrial revolution, mechanization led to increased production, but also the loss of life because of the dangerous working conditions. Overall I think technology is definitely beneficial to human life, but should be used in moderate amounts. (Lauren Burton)
Whether people want to admit it or not, technology has made our lives better as a whole. With that said, it has caused our society to become lazier and less reliant on traditional social interaction. For example, trains that came about during the early 19th century made long distance transportation easier for both cargo and people. However, testimonies of riders who claimed that trains were going faster than almost anything on Earth were soon to be outdone by more advanced trains, then the subway, then the metro. The benefits of technology keep society progressive. Yet we are always trying to outdo each other as a result and see who can make the latest greatest thing whether it be for show or actual purpose. Ultimately advancements do make our daily lives easier and more efficient. People today cannot imagine a world without cell phones because of all the benefits they provide. The technology given to us increases productivity of goods for people who need them and as result, keeps the economy moving. (Robert Jessell)
Technology is such a vital part of life that I couldn’t imagine mine without it. Not only would we be deprived socially, as technology has made more efficient our methods of communication, but also economically, as there would be less need to globalize and grow markets, which would greatly limit opportunities to make money. Looking back to the industrial revolution, I think that the development of technology has had adverse effects on humanity in regard to way of life and working conditions, but bearing the brunt of technology’s adverse effects has changed the world for the better, as democracy and an iPhone are the only things you ever really need.—-TB
Of course, technology is a plus, no one can deny that. However, there are ideas and philosophies that came along with the technological advancement during the Industrial Revolution that are still debated today. In addition, it is important that we never lose our celebration of Nature, of the natural, or lose the ability to function naturally without technology. Politically, this time brought up one of the most important questions of our time: what is the place of government in private commerce? Of course, there is need for some regulation regarding abuses of workers and other, but does the government need to regulate the economy with such a boom due to industry? Questions like these, like the debate over controlled or laissez-faire economics arose as a result of the Industrial Revolution and, are they bad? Are they a damper for progress or a means for change? Are they a negative result of the booming industry or a positive gain from a flourishing economy? You decide. (rory keeley)
I believe that technology has not made our lives better overall. Technology has created a society in which people who would (should) ordinarily have been left behind are now bolstered on the backs of people who are really working. I have no problems with the ingenuity and advance of man, but when this same ingenuity that once bolstered man up (the steam engine, electricity, etc.) is used by looters and governments who have no claim to the products they stole. We can have great men without technology, but technology will always give a chance to the people who don’t deserve one. I would never advocate for trying to remove technology, but people need to reevaluate how it is used. (Matt Borin)
As much as I love to dream about living in the age of castles and heroic adventures, I’d be hard pressed to give up the modern conveniences I enjoy as a result of technology. Modern technology has produced amazing advances in transportation and medicine. The Internet has made information more readily available, and TV uses up way too much of my time. However, all of these advances came at a cost. The industrial revolution was marred by terrible working conditions and abuses of human rights. Technological advances have made weapons more violent, and the possibility of nuclear war will now be present for the rest of human history. Overpopulation may also become a problem as a result of medical advances. Environmentally, we are still only beginning to understand the consequences of using natural resources. Socially, technology has changed everything. It helped start the liberal movements throughout Europe in the 1800’s and today technology is helping us truly become a global community. Is this a good thing? Well, I guess that depends on whose in charge and how they use the power given to them. All of these changes really started to gain momentum in the early 19th century, and yet almost 200 years later, it is still difficult to determine what cost technology may have upon us the future. So, is technology a good thing? For now it looks like the answer is yes, but in the future, as the true consequences of technology become more apparent, that yes may turn lukewarm, or even become a no. (Connor Haines)
I would say that the ubiquity of technology ha been an overall bad thing, as emphasized by Meaghan and the Romantic movement. While technology betters the live of those with the power and money to control it, it only makes these people more greedy, therefore working the poor terribly unfairly. This is also the case with power, as it became quickly obvious that the conservative movement wasn’t truly what the people wanted, or at least not the people of France in the July Revolt of 1830 or the European Spring. Maybe the Romantics were right when they stressed coexistence, but even if they were a little irrational, it can be seen as a reaction to the takeover of technology and the expansion of power in the age. (Carter Wiles)
The economic and social changes brought about by the Industrial Revolution were devastating for many at first. As machines took the jobs of often poor, unskilled workers, unrest and instability grew. Those who kept their jobs were treated poorly, worked in dangerous conditions (with often children as well), and lived in cramped urban squalor. However, this initial stage did not last forever. In the latter half of the nineteenth century, real wages for everyone began to rise as a result of European society becoming settled in its new, industrialized self. Even more inventions improved the standard of living, such as sanitation improvements, and the middle class swelled with an influx of new members who had risen from the working class. Medical developments, such as vaccines, cut down painful deaths from illness. Also, child-mortality rates subsequently decreased. Workers began to discover free time, sports, and many other exciting creations of a more-advanced civilization. This pattern is all-too-often how innovations affect society. There is often a phase of instability, but once said society has adjusted to the innovation, it can reap the benefits. Once a society is more settled, the systems of government can represent the people more directly without fear of violent anarchy. And who doesn't love more rights?! Today, the quality of life of the average person in Europe is leaps and bounds greater than it was 200 years ago, thanks to countless innovations. While David's points are valid, they are petty in comparison to what people were worrying about on a daily basis in the early 19th century… -DavisHeniford
While many say that technology has deprived our generations of a genuine thoughtfulness and the skill of carrying on a conversation without needing to tweet or indulge in the mechanical, I would ask each critic to please live for a week without a cell phone, without modern facilities, and go out into the wild. It can't work! And while this proves our dependence on technology and highlights how we are no longer truly self sufficient (because while we used to, for example, know how to make tools from the ground but now do not know how), it also proves that we as a society have totally embraced technology because it improves the quality of living. For me, i agree with Matt in saying that technology has allowed the weak to survive and the fittest to not flourish. Man is still an animal, and using medicine and other technologies to keep the sick alive is breeding a weaker race (we will all suffer when aliens invade because of being weak). Because being the fittest no longer matters, and is maybe a hinderance, our population has skyrocketed. Because technology sustains this population, and it will only last so long, one day technology will fail to work because of an energy fallout and mass famine will result. For me, I would change the past by keeping the technology but not the fat, meaning to keep the population lower and allow only the strong to survive, creating a team almost and cutting the ones who can't keep up. I know that that seems very politically incorrect, and there will always be a need for the working class, but do we need all of them? More people means more or our work used up and technology will only be a brief highpoint, only to plummet when we can't get things like fuel. Going back to the IR, specifically France, the working class and socialism is the cause of this issue. The ideas of tailoring the world to work for the masses means that it is tailoring the world for lesser people, for most people are stupid. It is like the food-chain, only there are too many mice and the owl is only allowed to eat one a week because it's an owl and therefore must be limited. With the IR, i wish that it had industrialized, but not brought on the population growth and the socialist ideas of empowering the working class. Why would a sensible person allow a factory worker to run a nation? A sensible person would not, but socialist ideas flourished because the masses are not sensible / educated to the point of being competent and able to run a nation. If they were, they wouldn't be factory workers. Anyways, technology is great for it improves our lives, but it has brought about the larger issues of being distant from ones true self, the joy of nature, and most importantly the tyranny of the uneducated masses because technology and the governments that live in its age serve those who will get them re-elected, not those who are elite and will make the nation stronger. Louis Stephens