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ONLINE MAGAZINE: SOCIAL INCLUSION

Diversity, equality and social inclusion. What do young people think about it and why does it matter to them?

Online magazine: Social inclusion

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Technology and Society

17/02/2014

By Frances Rowbottom

Technology has had an enormous effect on our society, both throughout the world and in our day-to-day lives. For example, the whole idea of an 'online magazine' would be impossible without the invention of the Internet, which resulted ultimately from research started in the 1950s.

Young people in particular seem unable to function without technology; PCs, laptops, phones and music players are constantly used by teenagers, and many people can't imagine their lives without them. However, this reliance on technology can promote social exclusion; for example, if you don't have the same phone as your friends, or the latest laptop or tablet, you may not feel 'included'.

How much of this technology promotes a sense of inclusion and equality? On holiday, for example, you can take photos of the locals and tourists to upload to Facebook and Instagram, but how many of them have you struck up a proper conversation with? And have you considered those who don't use these inventions? Do you organise a gathering solely using Facebook, or do you actually ask someone face-to-face to meet up at the weekend? And doesn't this promote 'FOMO' (Fear Of Missing Out); a feeling engendered through the use of technology to draw attention to the latest events in your own life. How much of this behaviour appears selfish, engineered to promote your own achievements and exclude others?

Not to mention the elderly people I frequently come into contact with, who struggle with technology and have no idea about the latest developments in Xbox software, the fastest Intel core processor for a laptop, or the frequent iOS updates for the iPhone. Should these people be left behind and excluded, because they can't keep up?

However, all is not yet lost. In my local area there is also a sense of the community spirit and close friendship between individuals seen in the Victorian and Edwardian era in Britain, thanks to the Beamish Museum. This museum has preserved a 'North Eastern market town in the years leading up to the First World War'; it has a communal clothes-washing area, a school without any of the technology we take for granted today in the 21st century, a coal mine and an old farm house. These features clearly show visitors the aspects of life where we now rely on technology; volunteers make clothes and churn butter by hand, visitors travel by horse and cart or tram, and cinder toffee and sherbet are handmade in an old-fashioned sweet shop, opposite a bank and a 'Cooperative Store'.

Perhaps by returning more to the ways of the past few centuries, we can regain the idea of a close-knit community, and no one will be excluded? Or on a more practical level, perhaps not boasting about your latest iPhone app or Instagram photo will allow others around you to feel more included, and you can focus more on what really matters; friends and family.