We’re connected to people, places, cultures, things. This has always been the case, but in the last thirty years those connections have expanded to a new dimension: online. Social media, blogs, vlogs, even the darknet – our presence has slowly leeched to the almost untouchable. A dimension which we can’t physically enter.
The ways we can access the web is almost endless. Smartphones, laptops, tablets, and computers serve as our vehicles. Cafes, universities, homes, and shopping centres serve as our gateways.
As someone with a software engineer for a father, I’ve never had to worry about our house lacking in the latest technologies and entertainments. Our WiFi is fast, our TV is huge (for all that only Dad uses it), and our house is a plethora of Apple products. Our house is connected in all the ways we possibly can be. And yet, we don’t have access to the NBN. Where we live, in a seemingly forgotten corner of Sydney (as Buzzfeed never lists our locality in any of their lists of cool places to go, eat, or see), the NBN hasn’t made its way yet.
I asked Dad the other week if it mattered to him that we don’t have the NBN, and he said that he was glad we don’t, and that he wouldn’t get it if it was available. He reckons the technology will be outdated almost as soon as installation is finished and that Australia will continue its trend in being behind the times, technologically.
Ironically enough, my aunt (Dad’s sister) doesn’t even have WiFi in her home, and in her family of four there’s only one computer. I can’t imagine the fights my cousins have over whose turn it is to use it.
In our house, the hierarchy of technological authority goes somewhat like this:
- Dad, the tech wizard. Knower of all. Fixer of all.
- Me, the devoted follower and user of the online world. A gamer girl, too, if you count my complete collection of Sims 3 and Sims 4. I’ve forgotten how to use the TV since I do all my watching online.
- My mum is more suited to operating on humans than operating a computer (all legal; she’s got 15 years as an OB/GYN under her belt). Insists on having an iPhone and iPad “because everyone else does”; only uses the call, email, and text functions, to mine and dad’s frustrations.
- My grandfather who never fails to push our WiFi over its 200GB monthly limit with his countless movie downloads. The perpetrator of countless crimes against his PC and laptop due to ignorantly downloading viruses. Complete wipes of his PC/laptop so far: 5.
Obviously, our uses of the Internet vary widely from zero to way too much please stop. Research shows that ours is a typical family dynamic. Findings show that very few of us take breaks from technology use (check); there aren’t many conflicts about usage of technology in families (check); people of all ages are dependent on technology and media (check). But despite having our attention almost constantly on technology, we’ve managed to stay connected through texts, emails, shared photo albums, and iCloud tracking; even family calendars enable people to stay connected to each other and their presences.
I consider it a privilege to live in an era where I can instantly reach out to people across the world; where I can walk the streets of London thanks to Google Maps; where I can watch a movie without leaving the comfort of my bed; and where I can learn more about anything I want for free. The ability to do these things hasn’t lessened out ability to communicate and connect in person, as clearly shown in the links above; in fact, the technology makes it easier and faster. How is this not a good thing?