Computer Technology And Its Impact On Society

Essay, Research Paper

Computer Technology and its Impact on Society

By Julie A. Rodgers, For The Paper Store – July 1999


for more information on using this paper properly!

Most of us are benefiting a great deal from the

technological advances being made in the computer and

industry. Even the writing of this paper would not be

possible, or as probable, without the computer technology

that is available today. From our automobiles to

airplanes, from our employment to our vacations, nearly

everything we do is linked somehow to a computer and the

advancements made in the computer industry. But this does

not necessarily make the technological growth of computers

a good thing for society in general. While it has

certainly given us a great deal of benefits that are

incredibly important, such as life saving devices, it has

also driven us further and further away from living our

lives as human beings, in the purest sense of the meaning.

We are moving further and further away from understanding

what it is to be human and what it is to work and think

independently from technology. This is not necessarily a

good thing.

Back in the earlier days f the computer, we were

truly thrilled with it. Even as short a time ago as the

late 1980?s, we were still unsure of what it was capable


?The advent of the microcomputer has already had

a significant impact on society, but it will be

during the decade of the 1990s that a lasting

impression will be made. Computer technology

took us to the moon in the 1960s, gave us credit

cards in the 1970s, and automated teller

machines and lotteries in the 1980s. Now, at the

beginning of the 1990s, computer technology is

strategically nonexpendable in the corporate

world. The computers that affect the world today

are still mostly mainframes and minicomputers,

but within the next decade the influence of

computing technology will be determined by the

microcomputer? (Helliwell 16).

Much has changed, and not necessarily for the better.

In examining what damage the computer has done, or is

capable of doing, we illustrate a science fiction

scenario. We are all familiar with stories of

civilizations, far in the future, that have incredible

amounts of technology at their fingertips. But in these

science fiction scenarios, we also find that the societies

who have this technology are living off another?s design

and they know little, if anything, about how to operate

the system. They merely enjoy the benefits and live on in

ignorance. Suddenly this society must face a dilemma when

the technology is breaking down, and they do not

understand it enough to fix it. They have lost the

knowledge. While this may seem like a far fetched tale,

it is clearly what many of us are becoming.

Technology, and more importantly, computer

technology, has given us a great deal of benefits over the

relatively short span of its life thus far. We are now

communicating with people, and nations, in ways never

dreamed of. The planet is becoming more and more unified

in many ways, all due to the computer and computer

technology. Hospitals and the health industry have

obtained the capability to help many more people and save

more lives, through the advances in computer technology.

People are able to work at home more now, than they have

in years, due to the communication abilities made possible

by the computer, an issue which may well help many family

structures in the country. But, despite all of the great

advances that have been made with computers, the

disadvantages may well, far outweigh the advantages,

merely because too many people are ignorant and

essentially ?go with the flow,? never once examining their

lives in relationship to whether computers have helped

them or harmed them.

To start with, people rely far too much on computers,

much like the science fiction scenario. For example, when

making flight reservations, and even when taking a flight,

we do not stop and consider the fact that we are literally

putting our lives in the hands of a computer. When

computers were relatively new, there were numerous times

when nuclear war between Russia and the United States was

almost a reality due to a malfunction of a computer. When

we turn on our lights, turn on our water, pay any bills,

or pay for anything at the store, we are relying on

computers. What happens if one machine fails? A simple

inconvenience can put us in a situation where we are

literally lost as to what to do. For example, recently in

the grocery store, which is in the town this writer lives

in, was out of milk due to a failure in power and computer

communications at a dairy. How many people were without

milk for a day? Did it make any of those people stop and

think about how reliant they have become on computers and

computer technology? Probably not, and if so, it probably

only lasted for the day they had no milk. We are becoming

a people that do not know how to live or survive without

technology, much less computer technology.

Computers, and home computers, are becoming more and

more widely used, obviously making a big change in many

people?s lives. For example, our children now have access

to the entire country, including many people and pieces of

information that they may well not be ready for. How many

talk shows have we seen, or heard about, where they talk

of young girls being lied to and lured away by someone

they met on the internet? How many people do we personally

know who have been influenced one way or another by the

internet and people they have met on the internet? Our

society is changing, and in many ways, aside from reliance

and human survival basics, we are becoming a very new race

of humans here in this country.

One of the biggest complaints, in relationship to the

Internet, has been pornography. While many of these people

who are complaining about it are essentially people who

would like to thwart our rights as Americans, there is a

great deal of negativity attached to the reality of

pornography on the Internet. Pornography has been proven

to boost the violent level of men with any tendency for

such behavior, and it has been proven to instigate

incidents of sexual harassment, even among the so-called

?enlightened? college group. It is available, in the

privacy of one?s own home, with the use of the computer.

It is relatively free, and allows the viewer total

anonymity. In addition to pornography, there is also a

very new trend taking place, which has a sexual nature, in

relationship to the internet. This is what is know as

cybersex. marriages and otherwise normal relationships,

have been destroyed due to the fact that people can sign

on the computer and have cybersex (written computer

communication) with complete strangers. If you go into any

chat room on the internet you will find people asking for

cybersex or talking about sex in general. While this is

not necessarily a bad thing in itself, ensuring many

people are having the safest sex they can, it is also an

indicator of where this society is going in general, when

it comes to the computer. Not only do we rely on it, but

what we have a tendency to use it for is secretive actions

that we would not normally involve ourselves in. In some

ways, it brings out the worst side of people, for they can

be as deceptive and unrealistic as they want. But the

problem remains that while ?advances in technology have

changed this country from a stable agricultural and

commercial society to a modern industrial society and

although some of the changes have not been good, few

people would want to resign themselves to the limitations

of the old days? (Brooks 96).

There is, undoubtedly, a great deal to be gained from

the computer and the computer industry, but the problem is

with the people as a whole. Most people are not looking at

the computer as a tool, but rather a complete way of life

that helps them escape from reality and from real

knowledge and real work. Morris states that this is even

the case with education and our children: ?But society

must be wary of trusting a substantial amount of the

education of its children to sophisticated machines and

technological innovations? (11). The point is, computers

are not bad, nor are they negative, just like many other

objects in our material world are not bad or negative. It

is all in how we use them and how we rely on them that

makes a situation or reality a negative one. There are, as

mentioned, many ways in which computers have helped our

society, but if we continue in our ignorance, we may find

that we have lost all we have to the world of computers.


Brooks, Doug. ?Technology keeps the U.S. moving at full

throttle. (column).,? Government Computer News,

(1988) : October, v7 n22, pp. 96(1).

Helliwell, John.?Waiting for the true impact of PCs on

society. (The Hard Edge) (column).,? PC Week, (1989) :

December, v6 n51, pp. 16(1).

Morris, James M.. ?The human touch. (computer information

technology and education).,? The Wilson Quarterly,

(1998) : Autumn, v22 n4, pp. 11(2).


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