Social change in a technologically advanced world

The launch of the iPhone X last week made me think a lot about where we are in terms of technology as a community and how far we have come. The new iPhone X is called that not only to surprise you when you learn it’s pronounced “ten,” but it also marks the 10th anniversary of the iPhone which was originally announced in January of 2007 and quickly found its niche in our daily lives. To me, it’s crazy that a piece of technology which has become so incredibly normalized has only been around for nearly 10 years. And being a 2000s baby, it’s even more far-fetched to imagine a time where cell phones didn’t exist at all.
Not to mention the internet, which likewise has become another common feature of our lives. It has also developed significantly in a relatively short amount of time – the past 25 years or so. It is now a noteworthy support for the economy, politics and social communications to the extent that the world we live in today wouldn’t be the same if it wasn’t for the internet.
Obviously, what the iPhone and the internet has done is place communication at our fingertips. We now have immediate knowledge of when an earthquake happens, an album drops, or a Kardashian releases a new beauty line. Even more importantly, online communication also allows us to have ongoing discussions about long-lived sociopolitical topics. And while many of these discussions have definitely not come to a resolution, it seems as if we are in the most accepting period regarding race, sexual orientation, religion, and many more issues which groups have been discriminated against for in the past.
We have become so accepting of these topics because we are starting to see them pop up more on social media. And Tumblr, Twitter, Instagram and numerous other platforms are hubs for discussion. Whether people agree or disagree on an issue, it’s important for us to talk our way through controversial topics in order to reach an understanding. As we discuss issues, they become more normalized in a way that forces general society to be more accepting.
We have spent centuries battling stigmas, racism, and supremacy and it is just now that significant and rapid change is beginning. The main difference between then and now is how we are able to freely and unapologetically communicate our opinions. And even though the internet wasn’t created specifically to deal with social change, it does a great job at exposing people to real and continuing social issues. This allows people to form opinions for themselves based on previous knowledge. Even though we may be going through a rough patch politically at the moment, this should not affect how people think and what gets represented in the media.
The other day I saw a post on Tumblr where a user explained why identifying as LGBTQ+ is wrong because it goes against what humans are inherently meant to be. Being a strong supporter of LGBTQ+ rights and representation, I was immediately furious that someone could think that, let alone have the audacity to post it on a platform that is known for being strongly progressive. Other users had the same view I did and there was a long thread of angry and opinionated responses. Looking back, this was a great opportunity for discussion. As long as we keep the conversation going and work through the kinks, we’ll eventually reach a point where, in this case, LGBTQ+ rights are more widely accepted.
That’s why the internet and smartphones are such a great tool for moving forward towards positive change concerning pressing topics. It’s easy to voice opinions online when you have time to gather your thoughts and convey them clearly versus having in-person conversations. And because smartphones and the internet have recently become so readily accessible, the internet is an extremely inclusive environment.
Considering this, I expect there to be more progress towards solving persisting issues. While the internet is definitely not the only way that change can happen, it is significant. As long as we are continuing to evolve general thought and work through topics, we should be able to meet goals that would not have been attainable in the past.