With the (relatively) easy access to things like WiFi, streaming services and smart home devices that we now have, it’s easy to forget a time when we couldn’t access them at the drop of a hat. The introduction of things like the NBN and the rise of online services and devices for homes in the last 10 years has drastically changed the way we as humans function on a day-to-day basis.
In my house, we didn’t have WiFi until I was going into Year 11, and that was only because I told my parents that there was no way I was doing my HSC without internet access (both for studying and binge watching Netflix to get me through). I was somewhat of a rarity among my peers, and it almost became a ‘unique’ identifying fact that I liked to whip out at the most opportune times in hopes of eliciting one of two responses; surprise or pity (I’ll be honest, the pity came in handy for getting assignment extensions).
Getting through the first four years of high school without internet access meant I spent a lot of time at the library abusing their free WiFi privileges and I absolutely chewed through my monthly data allowance on my phone at an almost alarming rate. But I didn’t know any different, so I did what I had to do and I managed to get through, and honestly, being free of the distraction of Netflix was probably a blessing in disguise.
From Year 12 to now, my living situation has changed dramatically. I now live alone in a studio room in student accommodation, 5 hours away from my parents, with unlimited access to WiFi and no one to tell me to get off Netflix when I should be studying. This change in living environments has definitely has impacted the way I use online networks and interact with other people, both near and far.
Now, instead of seeing and talking to my parents everyday, I have to rely on phone calls and instant messaging services, specifically Snapchat. It doesn’t replace seeing someone in real life, but being able to see photos of my mum, dad and grandma in real time, even if only for 10 seconds at a time, is better than nothing. In an essence, my phone provides me with the only real connection with my family that is easily maintained from such a distance.
Sherry Turkle put it perfectly in her TED talk from 2012; “These days, those phones in our pockets are changing our minds and hearts because they offer us three gratifying fantasies. One, that we can put our attention wherever we want it to be; two, that we will always be heard; and three, that we will never have to be alone” (Turkle, 2012).
Although made in 2012, this statement still rings true for much of society. Even though we now live in a society where the use of WiFi, streaming services and smart home devices, is commonplace our mobile phones in our pockets will still be or main gateway to accessing all of these services. Whether that is a good or bad thing, time will tell.
Catch ya on the flip side,
Sherry Turkle (2012). ‘Connected, but alone? [Video File and Transcript]. Retrieved from https://www.ted.com/talks/sherry_turkle_alone_together/transcript