Monday, 9 July 2007

'Necessary' Technology

My wife broke her ankle over the weekend as the result of a freak household accident rather than anything more extreme. We stopped climbing, paragliding, etc before the children arrived and had managed to avoid serious injury during those exploits.

It has forced us to rearrange a few things around the house to make sure they are accessible, computers and phones mostly. It's started me thinking about how important technology is to us and how necessary it has become.

With each generation, it seems there is a new set of needs. Now these are not needs in a pure survival sense like food, water and shelter and talking about them as needs is not to disregard the millions in people in the world that do not have ready access to them. It's more that to function in our society and among our peers now requires access to technology to a degree that previous generations have not required.

My children will never know a world before mobile communication and the Internet. The Year 10 students I was helping a couple of weeks ago (blah) have grown up with mobile phones and MySpace both of which are necessary for their lives.

It's not a new phenomena, I think it's similar to me having never known a time without telephones and television. My parents never knew a time before electricity and cars. All have become necessities for many people.

It's easy to disregard the need for new technologies as indulgent and not appreciating what true necessity really is. In a way we are fortunate that these things have become important, it's an indication of how our society has developed.

My favourite local pub serves the best beer, food and is the best place to meet my friends but they are notorious for hating mobile phones. Militant signs warning of penalties for using mobile phones and even having them on are an indication that they haven't appreciated that the mobile phone has made the transisition from luxury toy to necessary item.

Now these rules are blatantly disregarded by everyone I know. Most of us have children and absolutely have to be contactable should anything happen with the babysitter, etc. That said our parents weren't when they went out and we were OK.

But these genies keep on being let out of the bottle and there is now way of putting them back in.

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