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Did you know that our life has been shaped by what we consume and how we consume it?

From flipping through the yellow press to streaming Squid Games on Netflix, our lives have changed tremendously with the introduction of media and technology which has affected our lifestyles in many ways, both for the better and for the worse. In the past where technology was significantly more limited, we led a simpler life with most of us focusing on making ends meet. However, as technology has progressed and media has expanded and diversified, it has intertwined with our lives and impacted our lifestyles considerably in this information age.

With the advancements of technology, the internet and electronic devices have become significantly more accessible to people around the world. Gone is the era where one household only had one TV and one house phone. Now, most people own at least one personal device connected to the internet and are able to access a variety of communication channels and media outlets. Nevertheless, this change has brought about both positive and negative impacts to our lifestyle in which this blog will shed some light on.

How media and technology changed our lifestyle for the better

Without a doubt, progress made in any field has its own benefits in improving our lives. Likewise, progress in media and technology has advanced our lifestyle in a number of ways. Below are the top four ways progress in media and technology has shaped our lifestyle for the better.

1. We became more social.

In this digital era, the network connects everything and everyone around the world together, especially in media and communication, which means everyone can communicate with each other at any time and place through technology. Furthermore, there are many social media applications for the users to post or share content and information online such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Thanks to online algorithms, the content that the users post will be seen by others and may appeal to those who have the same interests. This allows like-minded individuals to connect and form a community to engage in stimulating conversations and grow into a bigger community to attract even more users around the world. This leads to new friendship formations and continuous communication. Thus, our lifestyle has changed in the way that individuals have gained more contacts and become more social through technology and social media outlets.

2. We became more culturally aware.

In general, people from each part of the world have their own beliefs and cultures which are reflected in their own artistic creations such as movies, series, and music. Because media and technology have become more advanced, we can now enjoy movies and music produced by people from other cultures, so we get to see and learn cultural differences through them. For example, one of the most streamed series on VIU right now is Mr. Queen, a series about a modern chef who becomes trapped inside the body of a queen in the Joseon era. This series shows the customs and cultures of Korea including its national food, attire, and way of life. Thus, it results in people from other countries becoming more aware of Korean culture while enjoying the series.

3. We gained a more convenient lifestyle.

Thanks to technology, a number of programs and applications have been created to make our lives more convenient. Now, we can do everything from the comfort of our own home such as ordering food (e.g. Uber Eats and Foodpanda), booking rides (e.g. Grab and Uber), shopping online (e.g. Amazon and Lazada), and even meeting with our doctors virtually (e.g. BetterHelp and Doctor Anywhere). This allows us to live a more comfortable life. This benefits both customers and business owners because both parties gained more convenience in conducting businesses and acquiring services, especially during the pandemic of COVID-19 where technology and media channels have tremendously aided the work and everyday activities of people around the world.

4. We became more on-the-go.

Because of affordable mobile data and accessible public WiFi, our lifestyle has become more on-the-go. Now, we can stream movies and series on many streaming services such as Netflix and Prime Video while riding on the train, listen to music on Spotify while driving, and complete our work on our laptop while waiting for our orders at restaurants. Having personal electronic devices, internet access, and media channels allows us to get entertainment and work done from anywhere and anytime.

How media and technology changed our lifestyle for the worse

There are, of course, certain drawbacks that come with any form of advancements including media and technology. Even though media and technology has made us more social, culturally aware, comfortable, and on-the-go, it has also brought about some disadvantages that negatively affect our lives. Below are the top four ways progress in media and technology has shaped our lifestyle for the worse.

1. We became more appearance-oriented.

It is without question that with the progress in media and technology comes the rise of social media and viral content. Users aim for likes and shares when posting their content. One of the most posted content on social media is self images, aka selfies. People feel the need to perfect their image and content before posting using applications and filters to make themselves look best, and often not reflecting reality. This creates unrealistic beauty standards as people become obsessed with looks and appearances on social media. Examples can be seen from Instagram pictures of celebrities and influencers that are heavily edited to perfection and are subject to controversy since their images sometimes leave evidence of heavy retouching (e.g. curved walls behind the subject along the body curves and unrealistically small body parts). This creates false expectations for people when scrolling through images on social media who may expect this level of perfection in real life leading them to have a more vain outlook in life.

2. We became more reckless.

Due to the fact that media heavily appeals to the attention of people along with access to personal devices and the internet making, users’ media consumption has become more on-the-go as mentioned earlier. This has unfortunately led to people consuming their choice of entertainment on their personal device while doing activities that require their attention. Some people watch videos with headphones in while walking on the street and driving making them forget the environment around them or neglect real-life responsibilities. Moreover, some content creators go to the extremes to get their viral content without regarding their safety to get likes and views (e.g. taking pictures of themselves hanging on a cliff or while sticking their heads out of a moving train, or even filming dangerous pranks for views). This makes their behavior become more reckless and may contribute to the accidents as often seen in the news (e.g. falling, car accidents, and death).

Another form of recklessness that we see online with the access of personal devices and the internet is posts that reveal personal information. Since users can post anything in public, they are sometimes not aware of the danger of social media when they post private information such as pictures of their ID card, pictures of their residence which shows their address, and content of their financial information. This reckless behavior puts them in danger (e.g. information hacking, theft, and bodily harm).

3. We became less healthy.

Since media and technology are very engaging, they play an important role in our quality of life as they may have negative effects on our physical and mental health. Because too much of anything can be harmful, those who continuously use social media or consume content with the inability to stop can become addicted. This can largely affect their physical health (e.g. disturbing eating and sleeping patterns as well as eye strain). It can also affect their mental health (e.g. anger, anxiety, and depression when unable to use social media or consume content or when too immersed in the content). For example, there are countless cases of young people who aspire to be like their favorite influencers with a perfect face and body on social media. As the expectations are unrealistic, they develop a degree of depression, poor body image, and even eating disorders as a result.

4. Our face-to-face relationships suffer.

As a result of media and technology addiction, some people enjoy their virtual communication and entertainment at the expense of their real-life responsibilities and relationships. For instance, their everyday quality of life may become poorer when they neglect to engage in conversations at dinner tables because they are too busy playing on their phone. Also, they may appear closed-off with people they see in real life as they are too busy forming relationships with those in the online world. This negatively impacts their face-to-face communication and relationship building with those around them. There are cases of young children who are addicted to playing games and watching videos on their tablets and fail to build meaningful bonds and spend time with their parents. As a result, their development and growth suffer.

Summary and food for thought

Technology and media have been constantly developing to improve our life from the past until now. While the progress in media and technology has brought about numerous advantages to our lifestyle (making us more social, culturally aware, convenient, and on-the-go), it also comes with certain disadvantages to our lifestyle (making us appearance-oriented, reckless, less healthy, and have poorer face-to-face relationships). Thus, media and technology are like double edged swords which offer both pros and cons to all users.

In the end, it is important to remember that while users should reap all the benefits media and technology have to offer to better their lives and lifestyle, they have to also be aware of the negative impacts and remember to use all media and technology properly. As media and technology can grab our attention and allow us to be immersed in them, it is vital that we develop media and digital literacy to learn the appropriate usage.

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