2012: The Year that Technology Changed Us Forever

From Mayan Predictions to Technological Convergence: Reflecting on 2012’s Significance

From Mayan Predictions to Technological Convergence: Reflecting on 2012’s Significance

2012 movieWe go back to the year 2012, a year that was associated with doomsday prophecies, but in reality, brought about significant changes that have shaped our modern world.

I explore the convergence of three groundbreaking technologies and the impact they had on our daily lives. Starting with the smartphone, adding in cheap data plans, and the Facebook app, 2012 marked a turning point in the way we communicate, connect, and interact with each other.

However, with these advances came unforeseen consequences; Profound social divides created by algorithms designed to keep us glued to our screens – to increase ad views.

As a conclusion, I also address the role of responsibility, both for individuals and parents, in navigating this digital era. So grab your favorite mug, and lets reflect on the strange convergence of circumstance of 2012.


From Mayan Predictions to Technological Convergence: Reflecting on 2012’s Significance

The Mayans predicted that 2012 would be the end of the world. 2012 came and went, we made a few jokes, a few movies, and then generally went on our way.

However, something did happen in 2012 that impacted the modern world and our daily lives. Maybe 2012 was the end of the world as we knew it, because things changed drastically afterwards. More than you may realize.

In 2012 we had the convergence of three technologies. The first of which was the smartphone. The iPhone had been out since 2007. While it was revolutionary to have the touch-screen interface, it had not yet reached full potential.

In order to fully mold human behavior, we needed access to the apps and technology that the smartphone offered – unlimited data! T-Mobile started offering unlimited data in 2009, and carriers started offering more data and more lucrative contracts in the early 2010’s.

Which brings us to the final major change in modern life – Facebook. While the public could access and create accounts starting in September 2006, an app wasn’t available until 2008. However, it wasn’t until the next revision of the app in 2012 that increased speed and features, such as Facebook Messenger.

Having real-time access to a built-in camera, cheap data to upload and download pictures and video, a social network to browse and share – from almost anywhere in the world – this is what ended the pre-internet world of 2012.

Unfortunately, humans attained this amazing amount of interconnectedness, individual visibility, social interaction, and at the same time – anonymity.

But these new tools came without instructions.

Who would have foreseen a world that created shallow influences, trials by social media, wars with real-time video feeds, and some of the deepest political and social divides we have ever seen in the democratic world.

When I see articles like this, I sigh.

Yes, these algorithms are addictive. Yes, they are harmful and yes, they are driven by profit first corporations whose first goal is to make money for their stockholders.

But then I also hear my daughter’s experiences of working with 4-6 year olds, each of whom owns an iPad with YouTube account, along with an account at nearly every social media platform. And they have uninhibited access to watch what they want – when they want. Probably because it keeps them quiet and out of the way at home. My daughter grew up with limited access to computers. She was also the one that had her phone taken away the most, mainly as punishment for other infractions.

2012 was the year that we received immense power, but no instruction booklet.

Those of a certain age might remember the short series from the 1980’s, “The Greatest American Hero.”  An average guy was given a powerful suit that gave him incredible superpowers, but he lost the instruction manual. He had no clue about the extent of his powers, and only discovered them by accident. But even then, he could never land gracefully after flying, which because a trope throughout the series.

This power transformed our society in less than 10 years, and it made Big Tech companies the most powerful corporations on earth.

So yes, it’s addictive and it harms our kids. But at the same time, I also put responsibility on individuals and parents. It’s easy to tell the kids to put the devices down, but how many times as parents do we pick ours up right after?

No one was prepared for the onslaught of media that would result from every person having a personal device that could track every post, comment, location, opinion, and more. I feel for parents that at least tried to mitigate the incredible social pressure that was placed on kids to have a home at earlier and earlier ages.

I am happy to see schools integrate digital and media literacy into the classroom. It is necessary and it will become even more critical as these children grow up in this new world reality. However, the same digital and media literacy needs to be practiced by parents and modeled in the home.

Should Big Tech be accountable? Yes. Even through some adults abdicated any responsibility, many parents did what they could to limit, guide, and restrict. However, Big Tech knowingly worked against these efforts to create highly addictive portals that kids – and adults – just couldn’t resist.

Maybe 2012 was the end…