The luxuries that society sees as necessity these days were, of course, not so just 100 years ago. Most Americans will likely claim that they cannot function day-to-day without their cell phones or computers. These luxuries connect us in ways that people years ago would never have imagined possible; however, technology should serve as a convenience rather than a crutch. This dependence on technology, though seemingly harmless, can actually hinder people by diminishing interpersonal skills, and it can lend to additional chaos in times of catastrophe.
First, technology can place people out of touch with others. Because interpersonal relationships strengthen one’s character, being detached from others weakens it. These days, many people see text messaging, phone, and e-mail as adequate means of communication. While they are so in the appropriate contexts, dependency on this technology can weaken one’s interpersonal skills and, because society deems such impersonal forms of communication acceptable, society may deteriorate from a lack of ability to communicate.
Although communication is vital to the success of society, people must also learn to function independently. With such a dependence on technology to make life easier, this cannot be accomplished; this is best illustrated in times of catastrophe, but it can also be seen in people’s own homes. For example, when the lights go out during a storm, many people do not have candles to illuminate their rooms, and they may therefore panic in the darkness.
On a larger scale, the 9/11 attacks and Hurricane Katrina were two examples of disastrous events punctuated by a technology-deprived hysteria. With raging floodwaters in New Orleans, many people were stranded – their cars became flood-damaged, which left them with no easy way out. In New York City, cell phone use overwhelmed wireless providers, which prevented many outsiders from calling their loved ones to make sure they were okay.
While we may see ourselves as sophisticated and modern in comparison to our ancestors 100 years ago, the truth is that we are nothing without our daily luxuries. The things we consider basic conveniences can actually inconvenience us when we find ourselves without them, because all too often we don’t think of a way to function without them until it’s too late.