Communication plays a significant role in every aspect of life. Humans are very social animals and depend on being able to communicate with one another. Society requires people to be able to understand one another as society is ultimately constructed by people’s everyday interactions. Technology has advanced significantly in the past century and exponentially over the past few decades. Social, economic and political spheres all depend on communication and technology has changed the means of communication.
Technology has enabled people to communicate world wide. Distance does not decrease ones means of correspondence. Americans today are more likely to move around the country and various forms of correspondence allow people to stay in contact with their friends and family. According to Diane Swanbrow’s article, “Cell phone survey shows love-hate relationship,” 40 percent of people say the main use of their cell phone was coordinating family evens. Cell phones with included long distance, electronic mail and videophones are all examples of ways in which people can maintain personal relationships across distances.
Communication technology affects nearly all aspects of life, both positively and negatively. New forms of communication allow for more information to be passed to more people across great distances. These forms are also less personal, can intrude on private life and make people vulnerable. While there is debate about whether new forms of communication help or harm on thing is certain: there is a profound impact on society.
New electronic communication has affected the personal safety of Americans. New technology is constantly being introduced to the American public. Many times people are able to exploit the new technology before the general public and manufacturers are aware of the problem. For example, software for computers and cell phones is distributed with many loopholes which hackers find and then exploit. Software companies then have to distribute a fix after problems have been caused. Also many Americans are not fully informed on how to properly and responsibly use the new technology being introduced. For example, important confidential information such as credit card and social security numbers are transmitted over unsecured internet connections and over phone channels able to be listened to. While many people do not take proper measures to protect themselves, there is an awareness of the problem. According to Diane Swanbrow’s article, “Cell phone survey shows love-hate relationship” 64 percent of people are, “somewhat or very concerned that using a cell phone made them vulnerable to the theft of social security, bank account and other personal identification numbers….and 80 percent of those surveyed were equally concerned about identity theft over the internet.”
Politics have been changed by the use of new communication technology as well. More information is able to be distributed to a wider audience. The media is controlled by a few large corporations and stories are regulated by the interests of the wealthy and powerful, advertisers, journalists and region. Controversial or stories not deemed valuable enough for mainstream media are able to be shared over the internet. People are able to criticize, question and express their opinions with less fear of repercussions. A larger audience is also able to be reached. At the same time the lack of restrictions on the posting of information online allows false and misleading information to be presented to the general public.
“Cell phone survey shows love-hate relationship.” http://www.umich.edu/news/?Releases/2005/Mar05/r031405
David M Newman
Sociology: Exploring the Architecture of Everyday Life
Thousand Oaks, CA: Pine Forge Press.