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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Friday, February 03, 2023

College 101: Technology and Tradition

I’m not a total luddite or anything, but I sometimes wish that I could go back in time. The modern world of online shopping, constant connection, and lack of privacy really gets to me. Sometimes I dream about going off and working on a farm, or running a mom-and-pop business, where technology wouldn’t be a part of my daily life. But then, I think that these sorts of jobs are in danger of being eliminated by technology, anyway, so maybe I’d worry about technology more than ever. Is there any way to escape the modern world? How can I live more simply?

There’s a beauty in simplicity, and there is no shortage of very legitimate concerns about the way we live our modern lives. Privacy on the internet is a serious issue, as recent controversies surrounding Facebook have made abundantly clear. Some of our technological advances may be hurting us. Studies show that looking at Facebook will often make you feel lousy.

However, these high-profile concerns may tempt us into too simplistic a view of technology and scientific advances. Our modern world is also full of positive changes. Many of the things we think of as belonging to the “traditional world” are actually very much affected by technology. Take the pet industry for example -- consumers used to have to venture to the mall to visit a pet store or contact a local breeder to see their latest litter of puppies and kittens. One dog breeding business has taken hold of the powers of technology to allow people to view their small puppies for sale online.

Mom-and-pop stores may be facing some tough modern competition from Amazon and other e-retailers and they’re fighting right back using technology to their advantage. Modern small businesses often put an emphasis on their search engine optimization (SEO) strategy, people from Bambrick Media, an SEO service provider in Brisbane, tell us. And it’s not hard to see why: local searches are on the rise, and half of all local searches result in a visit to a local store within 24 hours. So, if you’re in the mood for a “traditional” shop, but use Google to find it, guess what? That “traditional” shop is using modern methods to bring in customers. It it wasn’t, you would never have found it!

Why shouldn’t these “traditional” businesses use the most modern methods? They always have, after all. What we think of as “traditional” things were once modern. You’d be hard-pressed to find many examples of businesses voluntarily choosing nostalgia over efficiency, except when that was a part of their marketing appeal. Perhaps the best way to live as our great-great-grandparents did would be to live normally, and to embrace our modern world, just as they once embraced the then-modern world of their lifetimes.

This isn’t to say that you don’t have legitimate concerns, or that you can’t find ways to unplug yourself from an overconnected world and soothe your mind. There are plenty of ways to take healthy breaks from technology, from taking a leave of absence from social media to simply going for a hike outdoors. However, in between these moments, perhaps it would soothe you to stop thinking of technology and scientific advances quite so monolithically. Our modern world is the sum of advances that go back to the dawn of history--even what we think of as “traditional” was once revolutionary. Many of the advances we’ve made are positive or subtle. Not everything is dangerous or omnipresent. The modern world is the world we’ve got, so finding a healthy balance within it is key.

“Solving big problems is easier than solving little problems.” - Sergey Brin

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