A few weeks ago, I got my parents, both digital immigrants, to answer a questionnaire on technology. The answers were much more interesting than I imagined and I’m here to recap those answers.

The Past

ZX81 - Wikipedia

In my parents’ time, computers were nothing like what they are today. Most computers had significantly worse hardware, much bulkier monitors and personal which lead to most computers being effectively glued to the location they were built due to the absurd weight of personal computers. Lighter and more portable alternatives like the ZX Spectrum 81 still had to be plugged into an external display as they had no display of their own.

Additionally, while the internet did exist in the 1980s-1990s, it’s usage was far less complex, often used for not much more than sending emails and messaging colleagues/friends. Equality of access was also a big issue in the 1980s since most of the technology that was mentioned was only used in the west (where most technology was initially developed) and did not really become widespread in other countries due to economic and social limitations.

The Present

Since my mum doesn’t currently work, most of the information I gathered on their opinions on technology in the present was from my dad, who works an office job as a risk-engineer. Being a risk engineer meant frequent surveying of chemical refineries to spot risks, which makes portability and communication really important. It also made his most used software as obvious as the grass is green: Excel, Powerpoint, Word, Zoom, you know the ones. He also uses explosion simulation software but on random occasions.

The Future

By far the most interesting reveals were my parents’ most hopeful and most feared technology being the same: social media anFour Seasons lets guests text for any needsd messaging apps. They both could see and appreciated the benefits of the interconnectedness that social media and messaging has given us, but feared the sharing of negative ideals and the reduced ammount of person to person relationships being formed. In my opinion, the latter is a commonly overlooked people and machines issue, especially since I often find myself less willing to go outside to meet my friends than ever with access to such effective alternative communication methods like voice calls on Discord, texts on Whatsapp, Instagram, Discord and anything with a direct messaging system, but notice I never mentioned a video call. I, alongside a lot of my friends, rarely end up using video calls even though the quality and latency of live video calls has been improving rapidly simply out of choice. This loss of a close connection is certainly something I think we need to be more wary of and perhaps we should consider whether it is possible to be too connected.

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