How The Computer Has Changed American Culture How the Computer Has Changed American Culture When trying to envision the world of today without computers, I imagine that our lifestyles would be extremely different. “As exciting as technological developments may be .. it is important to remember that people who lack the skills or the machines to tap into this information are in the same position as those a century ago who could not read or had no access to books” (240). “These new technologies have undoubtedly altered our sense of what it means to be literate” (239). Years ago, being educated simply meant that you could read and write.
Today one must go through years of formal schooling to be considered scholarly. This is because, “Our sources of information have become much more diverse than they were even a generation ago,” (239). Early in the century, being able to read and write was a skill that only the wealthy could attain. Those without the ability to read and write were typically poor and powerless. As education became available to nearly all of America, the amount of education past high school was the key to wealth and power.
Today, information and the skills to access information are past becoming linked to success. This is in part because of the computer, which recently celebrated its 50th anniversary. Those without computer skills in the future will be left behind, powerless. I can still remember the excitement that I felt the first time I placed my hands on a keyboard. As Neil Postman states, “What is peculiar about such interpositions of computers is that their role in directing what we will see or know is so rarely noticed,” (247).
Throughout this paper, I will examine the advancement of inventions, work ethics, jobs, and how the computer has changed these to make our lives easier in some ways, but more complex in others. Following the development of computers, American culture underwent vast and fast-paced changes. These new machines were taking over everything, which made it harder for the older generations to preserve their way of life and function as a valuable part of society. Americans not only had to change their lifestyles, but they also had to adapt to changes in their work in order to keep up with the fast pace of technology. Little did America know that technology would expand so rapidly to transform our society. There have been many advances since the initial invention of the computer fifty years ago. Today, computers operate many of the things that we use in everyday life. Some examples of these things are farm machinery, cars, planes, video games, heat and water delivery to our homes, banking, billing, and even the stock market.
The advances of the computer have resulted in the expansion of American employment opportunities. Countless numbers of jobs have been created because of these changes. Almost every job that one can think of involves some sort of computer technology; there are only a handful of jobs in this day and age that don’t. For example, some of the computer inspired jobs includes computer programming, computer scientists, computer consultants, computer technicians, software developers, and the list goes on and on. If it wasn’t for the computer, these jobs and many other inventions may not have been possible. A giant leap occurred in the areas of entertainment, research, and individual access with the introduction of the Internet.
This new invention has enabled us to, “at any hour of the day or night, order a pizza, shoot the breeze, utter profundities, skim through library books, listen to music, look at pictures of naked girls, read poetry, watch movies and deliver tirades against the Government and the professoriat- all without the bother of having to get dressed,” (Charles McGrath 261). You can also bid on live auctions, play games, send letters, and chat with friends across the country. These are only a few of the things that one can do on the net. People have also been able to work through the Internet right from the comfort of their own homes. Types of jobs like this allow people to have fewer distractions while working, make their own hours, work for themselves, and go to work in their underwear. This sort of work may be encouraged our society to be lazy.
The work ethic now is definitely not what it used to be a couple of decades ago. Today, because of the convenience of computers, people do not have to labor as long or as physically hard. The computer offers countless conveniences. Examining the recent work ethic of Americans, I’d have to conclude that we’ve become much more lazy in other areas as well. We rely too much on the capabilities of computers. In my opinion, Americans don’t have to try as hard because the computer has many tools to help better their ability, for example, poor spellers. If you have a computer with Spell Check on it, why should you make any attempt to better your spelling abilities when you have a machine to do the work for you? Another example is that some students, question the need for math courses, because they believe that a computer has the ability to calculate math problems.
Computers have affected our ways of learning, working, and our way of life altogether. Because of computers, we expect services and results at a much faster pace. People become impatient waiting for a 6-minute meal in the microwave. Why wait for 3 days to get a letter when e-mail will transmit our words instantaneously? Computers have changed everything from cars, to banking, to vacuum cleaners, to space technology and communication. Not only has American culture changed due to the development of computers, but computer technology has also influenced the humanity of our world. Being able to send a letter to someone from across the earth with just a click of a button is quite a change from the pony express.
Computers can connect people from different cultures and countries and can even translate languages. This is commonly referred to as the global village, and will surely increase people’s understanding of others. “Finally, just as computers shape our world, so our own dreams and desires influence technological change. Where will our dreams and desires drive the technology of the future?” (241). Eventually, we need to be able to ‘read the world,’ (239). Computers will continue to impact our ways of life. People have begun to experience more leisure and less hard labor because of computer-related technologies.
Perhaps in the future, these luxuries will be extended to the poor, and human rights and equality issues will be improved. As people become more connected, they will hopefully become more aware. Another change that will likely occur is relaxed to home and work. The line between the two is already disappearing. People can now shop without leaving their homes.
It will be quite strange if we become more of a global village, but never leave our homes. Technology.