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Change for the better

We are undeniably living in the prime time of technological change. Living as we do in a Third World country like the Philippines, we have surprisingly enjoyed a great deal of this change, as it works every day to influence our lifestyles and certain behaviors. We feel the change as students, as we copy and study notes on a smartphone when before there was the blackboard. From typewriters we jumped to computers and eventually to laptops. It is definitely more convenient and efficient, but I am afraid that as an effect, we are relatively becoming less human.

I am more than grateful for these modern privileges. See how we can call or text anyone around the world in a single click or tap. How information is readily made available to us through Google. How we can take photos of ourselves anytime, anywhere. And let’s not forget the talking map, Waze. We have Facebook, Twitter and Instagram as well.

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We have generally abandoned the manual ways of doing things. It is a major step ahead from the past generations, and an exceptional one. However, while we are in awe of these things, we seriously allow them to control our lives, when we should be in control of them.

As promised, these have improved the quality of our lives. But many people fail to see that apart from the success these technological changes have manifested in our lives, they have also brought the worst things for us.

The more we are exposed to these technologies, the less productive we become. The birth of Google marked the death of books and other sources of reliable information, and our innate resourcefulness as well. The stronger internet connection usually means weaker personal interaction with real people, places and events. Taking more pictures usually means less for our memory to keep. It seems that in this situation is woven a thread of ironies we may not like.

In school, taking down notes and lectures have become unnecessary. One takes pictures instead, except when a  professor strictly requires us to make a copy with our bare hands. This was initially a practical choice for those who want to save time, but some, myself included, indulge our laziness by making full use of our gadgets. We take pictures of everything, though we know we can copy first-hand.

Thus, it should not shock us that our generation is largely vulnerable to fake news. We act like a sponge, absorbing everything for a living, especially with an unprecedented boom in information made possible by the data-gathering sites we have today. We are exposed to so much, causing us to absorb much and verify less.

Social media, on the other hand, is turning out to be as important as eating meals. With the emerging paperless campaigns in schools and other institutions, even the circulation of promo deals online, it is quite difficult to get through a day without using our gadgets, browsing the internet, and logging on to our respective social media accounts. With our phones, accessibility is no problem. Besides, other school requirements are now conducted online through Facebook groups, Google drive, and emails. They are significant parts of our life now, for sure. It is just that these things should not take over life as a whole.

And the world itself.

We are not alone on the planet. Every living thing is affected by the technological change humankind has created and now tolerates. Time passes by, and the cost we pay for convenience and efficiency gets bigger. We might not even find a way to repay anymore.

Damage has been done. To mountains, agricultural lands, fish, birds, not only to humans. With upgraded equipment, a hectare of trees can be erased in less than an hour. Modern fishing methods can gather more and more fish, in amounts that exceed legal, as well as the ocean’s, limits.

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Our modernization plans degrade animals’ habitats such as forests, rivers, and mangroves. Our air is polluted by toxic chemicals every day. The hole in the ozone layer, which was said to be the size of South America when I was in the first grade, should  be as large as Asia now. The sky is definitely not our limit. We would probably stop only when the pile of our wastes reaches the moon. We are interfering with the food web and have broken multiple laws of Nature.

It is important to know that these modern changes go beyond the virtual world. This is about our real world. This is about Mother Earth. This is about all of us. I understand that technology was made with the hope of improving our lives. Then let it. We are wrong to blame science for our madness and addiction to material things, and for thinking that it is the one responsible for the lost faith of humans and our dying love for Mother Earth. In fact, science is one of the keys that we have put to wrong use. Ultimately, we should take responsibility into our hands, as it was imprinted on the day a man attempted his very first experiment to change the world.

Before, we did not take pictures excessively. One shot was already a gem. We traveled to a place because it was nice, not because it was “Instagrammable.” There is a big difference between the two. Before, photo shoots were for models; today, they are also for our food. Cell phones were then only secondary; today they are our life. Though we look for smaller, shorter and thinner things now, I hope (with crossed fingers) that they do not affect our dreams. Change speaks for its name, but in no way can it alter who we are and what we can do. We are more capable than change. In the first place, we created it.

The world was once a wondrous place. It may honestly be far from what it was before. But I believe we can still make it good. If we only know how to use these things right. If we only cherish human experience from the heart. And carefully choose the things we change.

The world will be better, as it deserves to be.

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Winona Rica L. Sigue, 18, is a third year accountancy student at the University of Santo Tomas.

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TAGS: gadgets, technological change, Winona Rica L. Sigue, Young Blood
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