It would be safe to say that technology has reared its head into almost every single aspect of our everyday lives. Making breakfast with your smart toaster, making coffee in a fancy coffee maker with more options than you can shake a stick at, taking a self-regulating shower with optimal water temperature and even planning your daily journey on your smartphone or tablet. If you have not had a smartphone for the past decade, then you would probably be in the minority. Everyone and their dog uses some sort of app for just about everything, and has some sort of smart device which they use on a very regular basis.
Getting on the train or tube and seeing literally everyone’s face slightly illuminated by their mobile phone which they are looking down at might start to paint a somewhat dismal picture nowadays, but in reality, is the alternative of staring at the wall much better? The influence of technology on everyday life is more than clear, but it’s not all bad, not at all. In fact, life has become easier than it has ever been in some ways, with many things which previously tended to be somewhat arduous tasks now being a matter of reaching for your pocket. With that out of the way, let’s look at what you could do with ease now, which you couldn’t not 20 years ago without going out of the house.
Dealing with your bank
Yes the functionality of a normal mobile phone predates the smartphone, but you couldn’t exactly ring up your bank at 4am just to ask if you have enough money to order a pizza. All major banks have now jumped on the smartphone gravy train, supporting Android, iOS and even windows phone. With the all new bank apps, you can do some online banking, send and receive money, check your balance, check previous transactions and even notify your bank that you are going abroad. In fact, in recent years you can even use your phone as a contactless bank card. Depending on what city you live in that might me more or less useful, but for example, in London you can pay for transport with your phone, as well as in most shops. Even most small corner shops and convenience stores now take contactless payments, so it can prove to be rather handy.
Contact others without having to sound like a 14 year old from the early 2000s
Considering that phone calls are not always appropriate, maybe because of the nature of the occasion or maybe just because you wouldn’t want to call your manager at 2 in the morning, we’ve come to the point where emails are the perfect medium between an official letter sent by post, and a text message. Considering we’ve now taken a decade-long break from alphanumeric keyboards and we can write normally now rather than lik dis cos u cnt typ vry fst on dis kbd, sending more formal emails can be done just about anywhere. It might seem obvious now, but just think back like 10 years and remember how you had to either have internet at home and sit in front of the computer to do that, or pay a visit to the local internet cafe which had a terrible interface for timing its 1-hour sessions that you paid for.
Every time you feel like your generic cold may just be something a bit more, a plethora of worries start forming somewhere in the back of your head, and before you know it, you’re on WebMD finding out that you have six instances of stage four cancer. Ok, maybe that didn’t seem like the best thing to have at hand, a diagnosing tool in the hands of an amateur, but fortunately, you can even get in contact with professional doctors now on your phone or computer. Not to mention, you can order your NHS prescriptions online, and if you’re at the point where you don’t exactly feel like moving because you are already too ill to go to the shop comfortably, then this can prove to be a godsend.
This probably goes without saying, but the fact that online shopping is so widely accepted and just taken for granted shows how much everyday reality has changed since the 90s. No matter the occasion, birthdays, Christmas or surprise gifts for the parents, you can order just about anything to your doorstep without having to go and experience the harsh reality of rush hour traffic after work. Considering you can now even do your everyday grocery shopping online, if you really put your mind to it, you could probably survive for years on end without leaving the house. Not that you would want to, but it is an interesting thought which would mostly seem impossible a mere 20 years ago.
Find out just about anything
This often gets overlooked, mostly because the “internet” as a whole, consists of Youtube, Facebook and Twitter for most people. They often don’t really venture much beyond that. If you take a step back and look at this objectively, with a laptop on your lap, or a phone in your pocket, you basically have the encyclopedia of the world, on just about every topic imaginable, at your fingertips. In years from now, children will be in shock that a time existed where if you didn’t know something, you had to ask someone more experienced or go to the library, considering they will be living a good 20 or so years into almighty Google’s monopoly over the popular internet. It will come as an absolute shock to some, that you cannot take a small rectangle out of your pocket, and find out almost anything within seconds. It’s definitely a scary thought, but also really puts things into perspective.
Even now, most people don’t ever go to the library, and if they do it’s probably just to find some peace and quiet, and more importantly wifi, where they can work on their laptops. Encyclopedias and other impressive hardbound tomes of knowledge are gathering dust on shelves, while the same tool that you use to order pizza also tells you the history of Italy or the exact distance between the sun and mars when you just so happen to need it to.