In the 1800’s communication traveled by stagecoaches, steamboats, and wagon trains that risked ambush. Even the famed Pony Express in 1860 wasn’t the safest way to get word out. William H. Russell put an ad in the newspaper that read, “Wanted. Young, skinny, wiry fellows not over 18. Must be expert riders willing to risk death daily. Orphans preferred.” The idea that mail would be such a commodity as to warrant the risk of death is an almost unimaginable thought today. Society has come a long way since then.
Sending mail is a process that takes an average of 3-9 business days. Tack on a few extra dollars and a package could get there the next business day if needed. Even simpler, a quick message to friends and family can be sent and received within seconds through text or email. Whether you’re hoping to connect with the person next door for a cup of sugar or wanting to say Happy Birthday to a friend who lives on another continent, it can be done quicker than ever.
If it weren’t for societal advances, particularly technological ones, there would be so many things that we just couldn’t do. Yes, 16-34 year olds might spend over two hours every day on social media alone, but if it weren’t for social media then the A.L.S. Association may not have raised that $115 million to aid in the discovery of NEK1. So, while parents might be fighting their kids to put the screens down at times, it’s important to note what those screens have allowed.
There isn’t much of a restriction on technology and its capabilities to connect people. The thing we know as social media can be traced back to the early 1990s. The ‘90s wouldn’t recognize social media today. Tweets can be seen by the world. Use the right hashtag and your Instagram post could garner hundreds of new followers eager to let you know their thoughts. Facebook finds ways to connect 1.59 billion users monthly. Television updates viewers on local, state and national news. Radio gives people a chance to call in and give their perspective on social issues. Podcasts let people listen to just about any topic they could dream up. Blogs and online resources let readers choose exactly what they want to read about and allows them the ability to consume the information in quick, short posts or lengthy articles.
In reality, technology has done more than we could have ever imagined possible. Even with its ability to bridge the gap between generations, cultures, families, and more, there are still some who view it as an unknown world that needs to be navigated with caution. If navigated at all. There may be something to be said about living simply, but consider all that would be missed if everyone looked at technology as something that’s tearing us apart.
Teens spend hours a day on their phones, but what if that time was spent with a language learning app to help them talk to locals on their first trip abroad? A middle schooler might seem lost in their tablet, but maybe their imagination is running wild inside a story two reading levels above what’s expected of them. A toddler recognizes their grandma’s face and accidentally calls her phone for an unexpected videochat. In reality, the obsession with technology has afforded us a kind of connection that seemed unattainable not too long ago.