Sometimes, it seems technology lets us down. Our computer crashes. There’s not enough storage space on our phones. Our coffee makers go on the fritz just in time for a busy morning. The definition of quality of life can be vague. However, a quick trip to Google notes that quality of life is generally defined as a threshold of happiness, health, and comfort for individuals and groups alike.
Overall, the usual flaws of technology aside, the argument can be made that technology has served to make our lives more efficient. However, the big question is does it make our lives better?
Let’s dive right in.
Better Health Care
It can’t be denied that medicine and everyday health practices seem to be improving all the time. This is thanks in at least part to technology. Improvements in the home have led to a better, healthier life. For example, those who suffered from various problems with their backs now have high-quality adjustable beds at their disposal. Exercise equipment and the incorporation of augmented and virtual reality has changed the way we think about workouts around the home.
On a broader scale, treatments have made leaps and bounds even within the past few decades. What was previously a crippling, soul-crushing long-term condition may now be managed and even improved thanks to modern medicine. Once-feared diseases that ran rampant in the world such as polio, leprosy, the plague, and so many more are either under control or outright eradicated thanks to vaccinations and better hygiene and sanitary practices all over the world.
A Comfortable Life
Living at home has become more comfortable than ever before with efficient heating, air conditioning, fans, and much more. Our ability to customize our home to our exact specifications has reached a whole new unprecedented level as technology continues to evolve.
The convenience of apps like Skip the Dishes have made food delivery more common than ever before; for a fee, you can have your dinner taken care of from your smartphone. Amazon Prime can assist in delivering virtually anything you could possibly need right to your doorstep, sometimes even overnight.
There are so many chores around the home that have become automated that we take for granted every day. We have dishwashers, washers, dryers, vacuum cleaners, etc. Even something as simple as the dustpan is technically a piece of technology, but there’s no point in getting that deep; the point has been made. We live a more comfortable life because that is what we invented for ourselves. We now have the technology to do so much using a tiny computer we can fit in the palm of our hands. If you’re old enough, you may remember a time where the Internet itself was brand new, and maybe you can remember the time before that. We could never have imagined even a few short decades ago how far technology would come and what is yet to be.
A Happy Life?
Can a technologically convenient life be a happy life? That’s difficult to say. Most of us reading this have some form of privilege in our lives, thanks in a large part to the rise and continued evolution of technology. But again, is privilege synonymous with a happy life?
This boom of technology certainly isn’t without its drawbacks. Let’s look at social media, for example. Before we start this discussion, it should be noted it’s not productive to stand on one’s figurative soap box and rail against social media and the kids these days. Social media has done some good. It brings people together who may not otherwise have a way to talk to each other. It allows us to help others in their time of need, spread critical information, and bring people together for a noble cause.
Social media has also allowed us an unfortunately ever-present way to compare our lives to others. Our perception of a friend’s vacation photos, particularly flattering shots or an overall pleasing online presence warps our sense of reality. We may see our friends as having a better life based on what we see online. It’s easy to remind ourselves that what we see isn’t the full picture if you’ll forgive the pun, but only what we see. As easy as that is to say, when what is portrayed on social media is more often than not the only thing that’s seen, perception and reality often mix.
This “grass is greener” mentality has unfortunately become rather prevalent in our technology-dominated world, even if we can and do often remind ourselves what we see isn’t always the full truth. While not the sole cause for the rise of depression and similar mental health conditions, it’s difficult to believe technology didn’t play a role given its impact on our perception.
Technology can be to the detriment of our mental health, it’s true. However, it can also get us in touch with support groups we may not otherwise be able to reach and there has been increased awareness of mental health issues (due in no small part to the same technology). Without the broadcasting ability of technology and social media/broadcasting in particular, there’s no telling how many people would not otherwise have received or even sought out the mental help most of us need from time to time.
In the End…
The way technology has or has not improved our lives boils down to culture, individual preference, and how you choose to live your life going forward. It can scarcely be denied that technology has made our modern life cleaner, more comfortable, more efficient, more collaborative and communicative than ever before. However, does that necessarily mean our lives are better? Quality of life and happiness have so many definitions, and in the end, it goes to show that no one defining outside aspects of our lives decides whether or not we are happy. Happiness has to come from inside and is ultimately a state of mind and something the individual can decide.