[Contributor] The Use of Time

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Contributor – Alexander Gault
Follow Alex on Twitter @AlexanderBGault

Time in this age is considered a resource, like money or water.

Whether that’s an accurate description of time is unimportant, because that’s how it’s treated. To that end, just as we develop water-saving technologies, we have also been developing time-saving technologies, or so they have been marketed.

Does the technology of today actually save us time, overall?

It isn’t a question that can be answered with a simple yes or no, unfortunately.

It may seem that now, it’s so much faster to get a message to someone than 50 years ago, so much faster to get information, products, entertainment. But on the opposite side of that, we make up for these expedited services by using more of them. For example, when the television was first sold on the market, people claimed that it wouldn’t take off because nobody had the time to sit and stare at a screen. Lo and behold, the television was the most used method of entertainment in the western world for much of the 20th century, and the beginning of the 21st.

Technology, as it innovates and provides us with more services, prompts us to use those services. That’s to be expected.

But what most people don’t expect is that just as those services offer themselves for our use, we in a way offer ourselves for their use. Instead of allowing the expedited systems to save us time, and applying that extra time to other ventures, we instead use the time those services saved us for more of that service.

This can clearly be seen in services like Netflix.

It was fairly uncommon in earlier days to television entertainment to sit and watch a full day of a series. If you did watch multiples of a series, it was on days when a marathon was being aired, and even then you likely didn’t stay for the full marathon. Now, it’s very common to “binge-watch” a television series on Netflix, watching many episodes with minimal breaks in between them. This, because Netflix is on demand, can go on for days at a time, whenever the viewer wishes to watch something. In this way, innovation has caused us to devote more time to the service that’s been innovated.

This can be seen in many aspects of modern life.

In the workplace, people tend to bring their work home more often than before, as it’s as simple as bringing a laptop, or even more simply, a flash drive, with them. Instead of doing more work at work with these technologies, and keeping it all there, people do a lot in the workplace and a lot at home. In the earlier days of computing, it was almost impossible to bring work home, as most computerized industries were worked by people without computers at home, and even if they did it was unlikely they had the ability to bring their documents and programs with them. This meant that, for the most part, when someone came home from work, they didn’t spend any time on it that they normally would have spent with their families.

Its irrefutable that technology has come a long way from the punch-card computers and cathode-ray televisions of the early to mid 20th century. Much of these technologies are now advertised as time saving, and in a certain way they are. However, how we use them hasn’t changed how much time we spend on the things they streamline, but rather how much of that action we do in the same amount of time. This has definitely made the workforce more effective, but is it healthy for them?

Alexander Gault-Plate is an aspiring journalist and writer, currently in the 12th grade. He has worked with his school’s newspapers and maintained a blog for his previous school. In the future, he hopes to write for a new-media news company.

You can follow Alexander on Twitter here https://twitter.com/AlexanderBGault

[Contributor] Glass Houses: Social Interactions for the Modern Age

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Contributor – Alexander Gault
Follow Alex on Twitter @AlexanderBGault

As the popular adage goes “People in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.”

Essentially, this means that people who have certain weaknesses shouldn’t criticize others for those same issues. However, a new spin to this old saying can be used.

Now, people live in those glass houses by putting their information all over the internet, and throwing stones is just saying something that might be damaging to themselves or others.

Many people in the first world have a social media account of some kind.

Older generations tend to favor Facebook, the youth of today favor Twitter and Snapchat, and Instagram is used by anyone with a camera phone. With these social medias, we put our thoughts, feelings, and lives out into the world for almost everyone to see.

This is not without consequence.

Let’s start at a fairly low level of how this impacts our lives; our real life social interactions.

If you post something to your social media account that, for example, contains an anti-gay marriage quote, and you have any gay co-workers, friends, classmates, or acquaintances who follow you on that account, most likely they will, at the very least, ask you about it later, making a fairly uncomfortable conversation out of the topic. More often than not, however, they might not talk to you, consider you anti-gay and sever their ties, and in a more extreme case, band together with other pro-gay marriage individuals to shut you out of any group you may have been in with them.

The next level would be professional interactions, with businesses, employers, or contractors.

If you post something considered very out-of-line with the ideology of a potential employer, you could lose your chance of getting that job. This could include making political remarks, talking about various social deeds deemed less than respectable, talking about drinking, partying, breaking laws. While many people don’t consider their social media at all connected with their jobs and professional life, many businesses look at the internet personas of their potential employees, and even current employees, to ensure their business is being well-represented among its employee-base.

For younger people, colleges are another potential pit-fall when it comes to social media.

Many colleges look at prospective students social media accounts to see what the student puts on there. The college may look for posts about how the student feels about that particular school, the student’s personal life, and even the language used. One misplaced swear-word can end a student’s chances at a top-tier school before the Admissions department even sees their application.

Even high schools are getting on the train. Some districts employ full-time social media monitors to keep a watchful eye on the social media environ that surrounds the student body. They mainly keep an eye out for excessive online bullying, threats between or at students, potential inappropriate student-teacher interactions, and terror threats by students. These monitors can suggest disciplinary actions for any student they take issue with, from detention to expulsion, depending on the severity of the infraction. And many of these schools have no set code delineating how their social media monitors make these decisions, leaving it to the discretion of the district.

Social media accounts are a double-edged sword.

They create a dangerous ecosystem for people to destroy their own and others’ lives, sometimes unwittingly. They create a system where people can remove their own privacy, put their private lives on display for all levels of society and business, and subject themselves to immeasurable pain in the process. But social media also allows those who use it properly to grow, develop new connections, maintain old friendships, and keep themselves informed.

Social media is a dangerous weapon, and with all weapons, its users must understand the dangers before they can enjoy the benefits.

Alexander Gault-Plate is an aspiring journalist and writer, currently in the 12th grade. He has worked with his schools newspapers and maintained a blog for his previous school. In the future, he hopes to write for a new-media news company.

You can follow Alexander on Twitter here https://twitter.com/AlexanderBGault.