User-Friendly: Is Technology Pushing Us Together Or Pulling Us Apart?

Technology has been changing everyday, and more and more people around the world have learned to depend on the internet. I know from first hand experience, growing up in the 21st century, our lives are filled with technology. For as long as I can remember, I have used technology. This is not only because of the fact that technology has been rapidly advancing, but because of the fact that I live in Westport, CT. Here in Westport, pretty much everyone is wealthy and has top-notch things such as the newest technology pieces like iPhones, laptops, iPods, Apple Watches, etc. This is similar to the book, Feed, because pretty much everyone has feeds where we live. Feeds are computers that are implanted in people’s brains, which causes them to rely on it more and be less independent. This is similar to here in Westport, where everyone is privileged. Like the book, in Westport we all have “feeds” where we are all given computers and an education and are in the upper-class. We have all the luxuries that not everyone else is as fortunate to have: the best education, the best food, the best wardrobe, the best housing, etc. In the book, the feeds cause everyone to rely on them, so everyone is smart and can just look up any information on the feed at any given time. The feedless are annoyed with the feeded because they are actually studying and remembering things from their own mind, whereas the feeded just look up whatever they want whenever they want. Technology can be helpful to look up information, but it has some cons such as how it is distracting.

Technology can really interrupt schoolwork. When doing homework on the computer, no matter how hard I try to focus, there are all sorts of texts, snapchats, and various other notifications that can distract you from working. There is also different ads that can be distracting. Even on websites that could be used for school such as the New York Times and U.S. News are filled with ads. If people are supposed to get their work done productively, then what are they supposed to do when things like ads are getting in the way of accomplishing that? On the other hand, technology enables us to have an unlimited amount of resources. In the past, people would have to look up pieces of information in books. Now, we can search up a question and have a bunch of answers in less than seconds. Technology can be a great tool if people use it correctly. But, if people misuse it to harm others, who is it really helping? The difficult part about the internet is that you can’t censor who reads what and what anyone says.

In the New York Times article, “Is Social Media Disconnecting Us From the Big Picture?”, Jenna Wortham explains that “Social media seemed to promise a way to better connect with people; instead it seems to have made it easier to tune out the people we don’t agree with.” I agree with this because when social media first started to advance, everyone thought it was this great new thing. People thought that social media sites would be a great way to connect with friends and family all around the world. However, misinformation can be easily spread on these sites. For instance in a National Public Radio (NPR) article that we read in class, “Man Fires Rifle Inside D.C. Pizzeria, Cities Fictitious Conspiracy Theories”, Camila Domonoske explains how misinformation was spread via the internet. Michael Flynn Jr, who is the son of the incoming National Security Advisor, posted that the Comet Ping Pong pizzeria was molesting children and that the Clinton administration supported it (Domonoske). All of this which has proven afterwards to be false lead to a man coming to the restaurant and fired a rifle there. If that comment hadn’t been posted, this wouldn’t have happened. People believed what he said even though it was false because Michael Flynn Jr. is in a position of authority. This happens often in social media, and on the internet in general.

In the U.S. News article, “Misinformation on Social Media: Can Technology Save Us?”, Filippo Menczer explained how “If you get your news from social media, as most Americans do, you are exposed to a daily dose of hoaxes, rumors, conspiracy theories and misleading news. When it's all mixed in with reliable information from honest sources, the truth can be very hard to discern.” Since people can post things anonymously, or even just because you don’t know who everyone is on the internet, people are able to believe what they read and often don’t second think it. “In fact, my research team's analysis of data from Columbia University's Emergent rumor tracker suggests that this misinformation is just as likely to go viral as reliable information.” Because misinformation is so easily spread on the internet, it can cause many problems which can harm some people’s safety such as in the incident at Comet Ping Pong pizzeria.

Filippo Menczer, the same author as U.S. News article "“Misinformation on Social Media: Can Technology Save Us?”, gave a speech on the spread of misinformation in social media.

In conclusion, technology can be both extremely helpful as well as harmful, and the impact it has all really depends on how it is used. Like the feed, some people use it for good and only when they need to look up information. But, others rely on the feed for things that they should just know. Technology all around the world is misused by people everyday. This misuse is mostly in misinformation and when it’s used to harm people. Misinformation really causes a lack of trust in readers of what's real and what's not.

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