I remember my first day in sociology class, when the professor asked us about community. What did community mean to us? Who was in our community? How did we define community!
How were our lives connected to community?
Before school, my community was my parents, my little brother, my best friend two doors down, and my cousins and extended family.
Elementary school, it extended to my neighbourhood. I learned about the world from traveling and experiences with my parents.
And in High School, my community became bigger. It became my city, it became the world, it became wider and larger, scarier and more frightening but also in a sense, enlightening. We traveled as a class to New York, to Chicago.
Then I found myself sitting in a sociology class learning about what community really meant. What it was really about. And since then, my world has expanded. Largely in thanks to the expansion of technology that was a large part of my experiences growing up.
I consider myself lucky because I am one of the unique people who will have lived in a time when there were no home computers, and no cell phones and also todays world of go-pros, tablets, many phone and computer choices and constantly developing technology. I remember the dial-up tone when the computer had to connect through the phone line (and I can still mimic it). My first website visit was on our box computer in the family room to a barbie website (my brother visited the GI Joe site).
Many people claim that technology has only served to isolate us as a group. I argue the opposite, I think it serves to connect us, to allow us to explore new experiences and opportunities.
I moved from one corner of my country to the other in early 2012.
Other than Manfriend, I knew nobody when I arrived. And this is where I began to realize the benefits technology has on our society, and especially in my own life.
It connects us with the communities we already have.
I skype, facetime, phone, text, and email those I love. I send pictures instantly. I experience something and instead of saying “I really wish you were here to see this” I can let them in on a little piece of my life. I get to blog about it. The internet allows me to share with my family and friends how much I really do love the city I live in. I experiment with photography, both on my phone and DSLR and I am love the endless ways I have to share those photos with others. Instagram, dropbox, facebook, twitter.
It lets me instantly receive photos of my brothers performances in New York, Toronto and LA. It lets him share his once in a lifetime experiences with me.
Manfriends nephews know who I am because we get to Skype. They see me. They connect with me. They know me.
It helps us build new communities.
My life now is so different from my life a year ago. I’ve connected with bloggers around the world and people I am excited to be able to call my friends. People I look forward to running into in my own city or traveling to meet at some point in the future. I’m proud to be associated with groups as an ambassador. I have found people with similar mindsets about life and love and healthy living and as I learn from them, they learn from me.
I truly believe technology kept me from being more homesick and lonely by letting me keep in touch with my old community while I worked to build a new one.
I often think of the benefits of experiences like this. The high school teenager who loves anime but nobody in his class shares the passion — he can find a community online. I played the Sims3 for ages, and I met tons of other people who shared my passion for the game.
And sure, technology can also allow people with bad plans and negative ideas to come together — but it also allows our law enforcement, EMS and firefighters to help us faster and for them to connect with their communities. I think its great that my local police service has twitter and can easily inform us.
It gives us options.
My friend’s son has autism, and his tablet allows him to communicate with her in ways he couldn’t before. It allows his therapist to work with him and break down language barriers.
When a broke college student (soon to be me again) can’t figure out what to make for dinner, or what to get people for christmas, the internet is filled with these amazing, cheap and free ideas. My beef stew I made today with a recipe I found online! And I learned to play guitar off of youtube. For free.
When Manfriend (ever the private fellow) wants to share his pictures with family and friends he can make a private, password protected blog to do so.
And YOUTUBE! Whether or not I’m trying to win a bet on the proper way to say “Undoubtedly” or watch a video of a cat to cheer me up (or even post my own video for you or my family to watch), how can you not be amazed at the video posting and editing technology that exists.
When I want to book a flight, or find a massage therapist, or a physiotherapist, all I have to do is check online reviews.
I can make or find a new playlist, or workout, or running route.
My grandma can see my photos because my Mom can show her on the tablet (it has a bigger screen that allows her to see them).
Youtube, Instagram, Phones, Tablets, Computers, GPS devices, Go-pros. It all affects our lives and the way we do business.
The best part about technology? If you really want to disconnect, it all has an off button. How connected you are is entirely up to you.
What’s your favourite piece of technology? Do you like being connected? Do you use similar tools as I do? Sound off below.