Technology Mirrors a Societies Culture

America is a fascinating country. It is a modern marvel. It has defeated the odds over the years. It started as a young rebellious new world, and has managed to evolve into a powerful world leader, maintaining an individualistic ideology. But America has been booming with technology, since the 1920s. Americans have been making advances in technology to fit their lifestyles. American inventions thrive on comfort, convenience, and simplicity. American author, Neil Postman, describes how America is a technocracy (Postman 41), in his book called Technopoly. He explains how a technocracy is a society only loosely controlled by social custom and

religious tradition and driven by the impulse to invent---an unseen hand will eliminate the incompetent and reward those who produce cheaply and well the goods that people want (Postman 41). In other words, he believes that America is a technocracy, thus technology runs the culture, ultimately causing a loss of social customs and religious traditions. Because of this, technology is causing demise in culture. Postman explains how it is in the American mentality that allows their culture to be targeted by technocracy. Americans mentality is that they live in the land of wonders that if they can think it, then they can do it and they believe technology, will solve all of their troubles. Postman uses the following example to depict how technology causes a demise within the culture. He wants to make sure that he shows that it does not matter the culture or the technology. If technology is within a society it will cause demise in culture. His example is the introduction of matches within an African tribe. Matches allowed for the loss of tradition and

customs because in this tribe it was crucial that after sexual intercourse a new fire had to be started. Postman explains, This custom meant that each act of intercourse was something of a public event, since when it was completed someone had to go to a neighboring hut to bring back a burning stick with which to start a fresh fire. Under such conditions, adultery was difficult to conceal, which is conceivably why the custom originated in the first place. The introduction of matches changed all this. It became possible to light a new fire without going to a neighbor s hut, and thus, in a flash, so to speak, a long-standing tradition was consumed (Postman 27-28). This is a phenomenal depiction as to what he is proving. He proves that by using technology, even something as little as a match, it can lead to the loss of traditions and customs, while the culture is changed with some aspects lost. There is no meaning for the old ways of doing things. Technology is quickly moving in and destroying traditions and customs, thus slowly loosing cultural identities. I am curious to see if Postman s thesis is still relevant today, in the American culture. Especially since, today we have such technologies as Internet, Facebook, cell phones and fast food, to name a few. I am curious if the invention of Facebook will lead me to Postman s same conclusion. That is that technology causes a loss in culture. My hypothesis is that because Facebook is a technology, it should result in the loss of tradition and custom, leading to the loss of culture. To explore my hypothesis I am going to explore Facebook. First, I will explore the reasons behind Facebook, such as what are the goals of the website, why was it

created, and how easy is it to access. The second step of this process is to create an account, then log into this cyber world. I am going to explore all the aspects of this cyber world. I will look at all the possibilities of the website, I am going to examine how and why so many people use this website. The fourth step will include me having college students to take anonymous surveys. These surveys will assist me in figuring out how popular this website really is among college students, when they use it, how often they log into this cyber world, why they have an account and is it really that necessary to have an account. All of these surveys will hopefully reveal how Facebook, a technology, changes culture, to some degree. The fifth step in this process is going to be examining the effects this has on the college students, who use this technology and then relate it to how it negatively affects our society. I am thinking that this will ultimately prove that Facebook does lead to the loss of culture, thus proving Postman s theory is correct. The results that I found through my investigation of Facebook are startling. This is because when I first started exploring the website, I saw how it stayed true to its initial goal of allowing people to connect, but new aspects have been added. I like how when you log on you are immediately immersed into a community. You created this community, you as the creator, get to select who you do and do not want to be in your social networking community. This is a new concept in technology. You never before were allowed to modify the community, in which you interacted with until this extremely new advanced piece of technology. Another new aspect, with this technology, is the obsession, which comes with the creation of a Facebook. American author, Robert Rheingold, shares his first hand experience with the

obsession of technology, in his book The Virtual Community. Within his book he shares his story of how he got an addiction to the Internet. This excerpt gives insight into what millions of Americans do everyday. I was hooked in minutes. Over a period of months, I fell into the habit of spending an hour or two every day gazing in fascination at this window into a community that was creating itself right in front of my eyes. Although the

system was only a few months old, the air of camaraderie and pioneer spirit was evident among the regulars. Those three-dollar hours crept up on me in ten- to thirty-minute minivisits during the workday and hourlong chunks in the evening. Still, my daily telecommunicating expenses were less than the price of a couple of drinks or a double capuccino. The cumulative economic impact of my new habit came home to me when my first month's bill was over $100. (Rheingold Chapter 2)
This addiction is apparent when one analyzes how many people are on it at a given time and what people do when they log on. It is sad because it shows that we are loosing productivity. Facebook is extremely convenient. In order to sign up for it, one only needs to fill out a simple questionnaire of name, age, email address and home country. Then from then on out, all you have to do to sign on is enter your email address and password. This is super simple because you can have your computer remember both items, thus you are only a click away from your personalized community. This is extremely convenient; you have access to your community 24/7, that is if you have an Internet connection. This is a great technological advancement however it

has its downsides. With the surveys I took I found that ten out of ten college students will sign on at least once a day. Eight out of ten college students will sign into this network more than once a day and then four out of ten college students will sign on three or more times a day. These statistics are disgusting because it reveals that our college students of today are more interested in a virtual community, rather than the everyday reality. How are college students suppose to retain information in a learning environment when they have the convenient distraction of a website such as Facebook, that they feel obligated to log into at least once everyday. When students are logging in one or more times a day they are not being productive. Yes, they are being productive in acting out the goal of Facebook, they are being connected and they are connecting with other people. But this is causing them to loose a sense of reality and possibly productivity. It used to be that a child would grow up going to school, doing homework, doing chores, and working in the spare time. There was no such thing as time to waste. But with the advancements of technology assisting in providing comfort, convenience and speed, it has allowed for students to have more time to waste on such sites as Facebook. Did you know that three out of three every ten-college students are on Facebook within most classes? This is alarming because students should be in class to learn not to tap away from reality and click into a virtual community, which they created. This has no benefit to the student s future. Yes, they have networking connections but, it is not used in the manner of I have connections with this business corporation, thus I am going to talk to them and try and get an internship.

This networking is essentially to see how many friends one has or a simply way to have conversations with ones friends and family. This reveals that students are not using the website to their full advantage. Students are using this website as a distraction from reality. Did you know that ten out of every ten-college students, according to my survey, when bored at any point in the day will log into Facebook. Once logged on they will either have one or more conversations with their friend s or they will log in and then look at their friend s profiles and pictures, otherwise known as Facebook stalking . This is taking away from productivity. If students are bored they are logging into a computer website rather than hanging out with real people, or playing football with friends, or even paying attention in class. In a way this technology could be harming the productivity of a student and others because it is lowering our attention level. It seems like we must have interactions with something or someone 24/7. Whereas ten years ago, when someone was bored in class they would pay attention or draw pictures but they were still tuned into the class in which they were attending. Or if they were bored while not in class, they would find someone to play football or go on a run with. How are colleges feeling confident in their students if ten out of every tencollege student logs on to Facebook when bored. College is a place of learning and making connections. So why is it that students are not using the facilities within the college to make beneficial connections rather than virtual connections. Just because someone is friends with Robin William s son on Facebook, does not mean that they can star in a film, just because they are Facebook friends with an actor s son. This is

allowing some students to struggle with defining what is reality . Students should be exploring the real world opportunities, which are all around them in a college environment. Professors have real connections that could eventually lead them into getting an internship or a job. But I guess students today just want the fast convenient way of receiving connections. Setting up and appointment or traveling to see a Professor or another person of status, is too much effort for today s college student. Thus it reveals how lazy we have gotten. Our productivity has gone down significantly because we want the luxury of everything to be convenient and fast. If everyone today continues this mentality, then in the future we will essentially do nothing. Meaning we will not get bored because we can log into a website and if we do get bored of it than we can modify it to our liking. Or if we decide we do not like people named Sarah we can modify our network so that we eliminate all Sarah s. That is a far extreme but essentially in the future or even starting today, if you do not like something in reality you can change it virtually. We can expect that since we spend so much time already on Facebook , it is causing us to loose productivity. Just wait until even more advanced technology comes along; it will cause us to loose all productivity. I do not think advancements in technology will cause a complete demise of our culture and society, however I think it will eliminate some factors of our culture and society, this could be beneficial or not. The more we advance technologically the more we rely on luxury, convenience, and comfort. It will be important to make sure that we will not damage our culture to badly. But if you examine the effects of technology, it reveals that technology and society go hand in hand with culture. The

western culture is very materialist, the western world loves technology also, thus our technology is going to mirror the aspects of our culture which define who we are and because of this is causes us to have changes with our sociological ways. Once we make technological advancements to some degrees we cannot go back to the old way of doing things because it is not efficient, due to the changes within the society and culture. For example thirty years ago people used typewriters. These were hefty machines, which allowed you only to type. And you had to punch one key at the time, being extremely careful because if you messed up you had to start over. This was efficient for the time and a luxury to some degree, because it was new technology, which allowed you to make a formal document with ease. However, as the culture advanced so did technology. Along came the computer this allowed people to type as fast as they could and mess up as many times as they had to because the computer would fix it and allow you to go back and fix the mistakes. Computers were not originally fast, along with other things, but because it made things more efficient we started modifying and advancing this technology to where it is today. You can type as much while making errors, the computer will mark them or auto corrects them for you. This technology is so efficient, convenient and fast that no one would go back to using a typewriter. Once technology has advanced to a point you cannot go back to old traditions. This is the same with Facebook and other technology today. We will never stop using Facebook even if it has its downfalls because someone will enhance the website so that it will be more efficient to use. If one does not think it is allowing for adequate productivity, then eventually someone will modify it to cause there to

be an excess of productivity. An important point to make is that, the individual who has the Facebook account is the one who can modify Facebook to meet their needs. If they need it to be a networking resource then the individual will use the technology to fit that need. Just as if the individual is bored and needs to have something to use for fun to explore and to relax their minds, then they will modify the technology to fit their needs. This is one goal of the technology. Facebook was made with the individual in mind. Facebook wants the individual to control the community and the environment in which they use the technology. By looking through my results I have realized an intriguing fact. That is that the times are changing. Technology and culture are changing simultaneously; it does not mean that technology is going to destroy a society or a culture. It will slowly but surely modify cultures, into being more efficient and to the needs of the individuals who use it. Thus my initial hypothesis along with Postman s ideas were wrong. Yes, my statistics show that students are not being as productive as they should be, but that does not mean that they are not doing what is asked of them. Ten out of tencollege students I asked had goals of graduating college. Nine out of ten-college students I asked are planning on going to graduate school. They all realize that they have a future, thus they cannot completely get caught up in the technology. They do not want to have technology negatively affect them, so they keep it balanced. Yes, they go on to these distracting websites, but they do their homework and still take notes and they still study. Most importantly they have the goal of graduating. Thus the websites and technology of today are just allowing for students to have an outlet, during a rigorous lifestyle. It allows them to take a break from the demanding

reality and click into a relaxing lifestyle of ease even though it is a virtual reality. Essentially, these technological advancements and websites such as Facebook are not bad. One just needs to know how to combine life in reality with distracting technology into a productive and efficient manner. This technology is innovative; the individual creates the cyber world in which they are interacting with. No traditions or customs are loss. This can be shown with the American identity. The American identity is all about the individual. This technology enhances this aspect of American identity, ultimately proving technology and culture are changing simultaneously. Technology ultimately, mirrors the direction of a culture. Thus nothing is lost, only modified to continue to meet the needs of an ever-changing culture.

Works Cited: Postman, Neil. Technopoly. New York, Vintage Books. 1993. Rheingold, Howard. The Virtual Community: Homesteading on the Electronic Frontier. Boston. Addison-Wesley, 1993.

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