Technology has spurred many social changes which have directly affected the lives of individuals. Social interaction among people has been both positively and negatively influenced by the numerous technological tools. In the context of the workplace, schools and many other social institutions, technology has been able to maintain and develop relationships with one another. On the other hand, technology has also contributed in making distant interaction more possible than before, thereby making interaction become less and less ‘physical’ and ‘actual’ among various individuals.
Nevertheless, technology has essentially given new ways for people to interact and create relationships which were not available and possible in earlier decades. In earlier times, the means for people to interact across wide distances was more limited than it is today. Snail mails were one of the most efficient means in sending messages across territorial borders. Although it made interaction for many people in different regions possible, there were inevitable delays in doing so.
Today, we now have new ways brought about by technology in hastening the communication process, from internet chat rooms to electronic mails for as long as both contacts have internet connections or have access to the internet. On the other hand, the absence of internet connection will not make possible such means of communication. Moreover, the availability of internet is not encompassing in all parts of the globe, which at a certain point discriminates those who have no internet connection, isolating them from the rest of the individuals with internet connectivity.
Nevertheless, the developments in technology have become swift in the recent years, making third-world countries connected to the internet. In the end, there are high hopes that the internet will be available to every individual in the near future thus making communication via the internet possible in real-time in the long run (McKeon, 1997, p. 90). In the workplace setting, technology has also made work among employees more efficient and more effective in contrast to earlier times when computers were not yet available.
For instance, we now have offices with computers which are connected to the internet, making possible instant communication among employees across short distances and even within the office premises swifter. This in turn hastens office transactions thus boosting the performance of the employees and of the whole office (Mouzelis, 1992, p. 124). The efficiency in internal communication among office employees and external communication between offices has also been hastened and made more efficient by the availability of wireless mobile communication.
Meetings can now be held via online conferences and contacting clients as well as office employees can now be achieved by dialing the client or the employee’s phone number. One seemingly negative consequence of such technological development in the workplace is that employees have become less and less acquainted with one another simply because technology has created a widening gap among the employees in terms of face-to-face and actual interaction (Orlikowski, 1992, p. 399).
Since communication can now be simply done through mobile texting and electronic mails, there has been a diminished need for employees to come into direct contact with clients and fellow employees. In the case of companies with different branches separated by hundreds of miles, the benefit of instant communication through mobile phones and the internet has apparently lessened the chances for these employees to travel across distances and meet their fellow workers in person.
Nevertheless, if the benefit of the whole workplace is to be exclusively considered, it is without doubt that technological tools have largely contributed to the development of offices in terms of swift communication with fast results, regardless of whether the process are tangible or intangible. In terms of personal relationships among individuals, technology has also given way to equal opportunities for people from different nationalities, age and gender to interact with other individuals (Itami & Numagami, 1992, p.
121). For example, online social networks have made possible the means for individuals to superficially interact with other people regardless of cultural background. More specifically, online social networks based in India have made possible for people in India to contact people from other countries and vice versa. One effect, although not always observed, is that people from India, for instance, can be able to create and maintain a certain relationship with others outside their country.
Friendly and more intimate relationships through various online social networks like Friendster, MySpace and Facebook have also been one of the many resulting consequences of these social networks whether we like it or not. In any case, it should be noted that the interaction among individuals are no longer limited to actual and personal interaction alone after the dawning of more advanced forms of technology. The only apparent problem with online social networks is that these networks expose people to the risk of committing themselves to uncertain relationships.
Investing emotions over relationships spurred by online networks leaves a large room for doubt as to whether these relationships will be sustained given the lack of actual interaction (Furman, Simon, Shaffer & Bouchey, 2002, p. 242). In general, technology has nevertheless provided humanity with innovative ways of social interactions which take their life experiences to a whole new level and direction. Apart from the probable negative effects, technology has its benefits which were not available in earlier times.
Furman, W. , Simon, V. A. , Shaffer, L. , & Bouchey, H. A.(2002). Adolescents’ Working Models and Styles for Relationships with Parents, Friends, and Romantic Partners. Child Development, 73(1), 242. Itami, H. , & Numagami, T. (1992). Dynamic Interaction between Strategy and Technology. Strategic Management Journal, 13, 121. McKeon, R. (1997). Communication, Truth, and Society. Ethics, 67(2), 90. Mouzelis, N. (1992). The Interaction Order and the Micro-Macro Distinction. Sociological Theory, 10(1), 124. Orlikowski, W. J. (1992). The Duality of Technology: Rethinking the Concept of Technology in Organizations. Organization Science, 3(3), 399.