I was thirteen years old when my parents gifted me with my first cell phone – the much coveted pink Razor. Although my parents didn’t allow me to text at the time, I felt like part of the middle school elite as I was one of the few people in my friend group that had a phone at the time. It made me feel cool and mature, even if I only had my mom and dad on speed dial. To this day I still remember the sense of responsibility and independence I felt after receiving that phone. Fast-forward to today and I question how I would survive without texting, Portrait mode, Facetime and Bitmoji. I’m constantly amazed by the technological advancements of our society, but lately I have started to question if we’ve gone so far as to prioritize technology over what really matters.
When I read that Uber and NASA are officially collaborating to bring flying Ubers to Los Angeles by 2020, I thought I might have been skimming an article on The Onion by mistake. In America — the supposed greatest nation in the world — we have an unacceptable number of homeless veterans, children that go to school hungry, crippling student debt, a healthcare crisis and a million other things on our plate. So, to be blunt, what the hell are flying Ubers going to do for us, exactly? Of course we know L.A has a major traffic problem and less cars on the road will alleviate that some. But does this traffic crisis trump the other issues plaguing our nation? Residents of the city may look forward to the improvement, but how accessible will it really be? (Think how expensive your basic-ass driving Ubers are!) And maybe if the greatest minds and companies of today focused less on pop and dazzle, their technological developments could make real progress for our society.
In addition to flying Ubers, our generation can also look forward to self-driving cars and, one day, setting up shop on Mars. When it comes to the over-the-top technologies of the next decade, I can’t help but think about my eighty-year-old grandmother. She’s had an iPad for several years now and there are only three things she uses it for: Facebook, Solitaire and Safari (which she only uses to check that her favorite celebrities are still alive.) Her technological world is so small, yet she is one of the happiest people I know. Knowing that I live over 900 miles away from her and that Facetime would allow us to see and talk to one another, she prefers a written letter or a phone call – as long as it’s not during her Soap Operas.
Grandma and I come from two totally different generations, but it really makes you wonder if we need all of this “extra” technology. I know there are companies out there working everyday to find the cure for cancer and to equip people with the skills and resources they need to become employed and self-sufficient. These are the headlines I wait for with much anticipation. And I’m not saying self-driving cars, flying Ubers and a base on Mars are unnecessary, but I’d be lying if I said we shouldn’t focus on fixing the major issues of our society first.