In 1999, before the rise of iPods and flat-screen TVs, the Disney Channel’s film Smart House seemed futuristic and absurd. The made-for-TV movie depicted an entirely computerized house, which automatically looked after all aspects of daily life. Today, we are not so far from the fictionalized “smart homes” of the Disney Channel. Even though we have similar technology, are modern lives really simplified?
Technology alone cannot make life’s unwanted tasks disappear. iPod and iPhone applications can create digital flashcards, but the task of studying remains the same. Your new computer may feature a thesaurus, dictionary, encyclopedia and translation tool, but it cannot write your Spanish essays.
New gadgets may be exciting, but they are not as helpful as they may seem. “Shazam,” a cell phone application, listens to song recordings and provides users with purchasing information. However, this fancy app is just a waste time, since the information is easily available online. New iPod Nanos include video recording capabilities, but the feature seems out of place on an MP3 player.
Although innovative tools may be exciting at first, they just add more responsibilities to our busy lives. In the 1990s when Smart House aired, most students did not have cells phones and only had to answer to the household landline. Now we not only have mobile phones, but also internet and e-mail. We are forced to be accountable for messages on multiple platforms, which does not simplify anyone’s life in the least.
Technology does not make life easier. Our prized devices just burden us with more responsibility and further distract us from our original task. Instead of using technology to simplify our lives, we have unknowingly become slaves to it. We constantly feel the need to have the newest and the best, and are often blinded to the effect it truly has.