The advent of the 21st century has seen a transformative revolution in the field of technology. Technological advancement has influenced many sectors in society including the economic, social, and political dimensions (Heneman 13). Communication, for instance, has been entirely revolutionized and in the present age, geographical differences are no longer major issues to be considered as far as communication is concerned (Elmer 4). The world has in the present times become unified especially by the advent of the internet. It has now become what is commonly referred to as “the global village” due to the mentioned interconnectedness. The new technologies, at the least, have not failed to impact significantly on the society. This research paper seeks to find out the positive and negative impacts of technological advancement on human behavior and their relationships. It will conclude that despite the numerous benefits accompanying technological advancement, the resultant negative effects must be addressed if the positive impacts are to be celebrated for enhancing human relationships.
Technology has always transformed over time and it encompasses entirely everything that human beings use in their day-to-day life. Technologies such as the radio, cell phones, television, and computers have gone through systematic transformation with new and advanced ones at every point of change (Elmer 6). Very limited technologies were used in the first generation of the various social means of communication. These developments have contributed a lot to the enhancement of interaction between human beings. Family members have been able to maintain contact even when they are far apart. This has been facilitated mainly by the use of cell phones and e-mails. Parents who take long hours in their places of work can call back home to check on how everyone is doing. Many parents interviewed felt that this brought reassurance to their families and help in maintaining a good and healthy relationship. Additionally, parents and family members who are engaged in jobs requiring long-distance travel ensure that they remain in touch through e-mails, the use of Skype to call back home, and other channels of social interaction (Heneman 23). Children who are in boarding schools can occasionally contact their parents and this helps in sustaining the bond that exists between them hence preventing homesickness that would otherwise interfere with the learning process.
Through the use of the internet, many long-distance relationships have flourished. Friends who have not met for a long time can eventually meet through the new technologies like Facebook, Twitter, and other emerging modes of social interaction of the twenty-first century. It is not surprising nowadays that people can use the internet to trace a long-time friend by just entering one of the names or e-mail. Once they are connected, they can chat; send text messages, share photos, and so on as frequently as they wish and the friendship flourishes. Again, virtual friends are now increasing in number since people can interact through the internet, find some common aspects among themselves and forge a mutual relationship. This is common when it comes to general social issues in society, including intercontinental affairs. This almost unlimited interaction between people has helped in shaping the way they behave. Intimate lovers who are separated by geographical differences can exchange love letters and send fresh flowers through internet services. Many people find it easier nowadays to use the digital way of dating. All these possibilities have helped overcome the odds that would otherwise result in relationship breakups.
The new technologies have also impacted many businesses globally. The relationships among employees themselves, the managers and the employees, and businesses and their clients have of late been shaped by the advent of the internet (Heneman 42). Some managers prefer to multi-task and they can still run an organization from a trip abroad without necessarily having to be physically present. They can give instructions and delegate responsibilities using the various internet services. A manager can hold a virtual meeting using the conferencing service without demanding that the employees be physically present. This improves the relationship between the stakeholders of a given business. Most businesses especially those that operate globally are run virtually using the new technologies. The great chance to network globally has also helped businesses in creating and maintaining healthy relationships with their clients all over the world (Heneman 48). For instance the use of personalized messages to communicate with customers makes them feel valued and would be loyal to the given business.
On the other hand, technological advancement has not been without its negative impacts on the behavior of human beings and hence their general relationships. The more new technologies emerge the more people tend to move away from a face-to-face encounter. Several people are absorbed by the new ways of social networking like the Facebook, Twitter, and Myspace. This is slowly eroding the value and significance of direct human contact which is necessary for a healthy relationship (Elmer 97).
The new technologies have become attention-diverters especially in classroom settings. The arrivals of laptops and sophisticated cell phones have helped in ruining the relationship between students and their teachers. While it may be used for good reasons like note-taking and other tasks related to the learning process, research has revealed that most learners do multi-task during the learning sessions (Elmer 108). These may include constantly checking the mail, online shopping, and text messaging. Such situations render the learning environment ineffective and hence poor relationships. Many lecturers have decided to ban the use of such gadgets during learning sessions especially at the lower levels of learning since the students find it hard to take responsibility.
It has also been realized that many love relationships are breaking up at an alarming rate like never before, thanks to the new technologies. The various social networks have caused significant tension ranging from finding strange love messages in the inbox of one partner to receiving frequent calls from strangers (Heneman 51). Although this does not need to be necessarily the case, it has contributed to the feeling of mistrust and the ultimate result has been inevitable- breakups. Spending much time surfing the internet has also not gone down well with those in relationships either. This makes the other party, for instance a girlfriend to feel that she does not get sufficient attention from the boyfriend. This is a common scenario and has not helped in bonding such relationships but to ruin them.
Given the addictive nature of internet access, many young people are withdrawn from the usual human interactive sessions especially with their parents and other social gatherings. They could meet strangers on the internet who introduce them to undesirable content and they may do this late into the night leading to poor sleep patterns and hence poor general performance (Elmer 126). The children and young adults can even access pornographic sites from the internet and this would not be healthy for them. The new technologies, therefore, have led to the deterioration of the parent-child relationship as well as societal moral decay, especially among the youth.
From the above discussion, we have learned that there has been a significant advancement in the various technologies available to mankind. In this research, we have focused mainly on the technological transformation in information and communication and the subsequent positive and negative contributions of these changes as far as human relationships are concerned. We have, therefore, established that despite the numerous benefits that the new technologies have brought, there are other ruinous impacts of the same which if not addressed may serve to diminish the healthy relationships that have existed long before the advent of the new technologies.
Elmer, Greg. Human Relationship: Critical perspectives on the Internet. Rowman & Littlefield, 2002: 3-153.
Heneman, Robert L. and Greenberger B. David. Management of human resource in virtual organizations. IAP, 2002: 13-51.