Technological literacy, the ability to use new media and technology effectively, is a tool that has grown in significance during the last few decades. Technology is a power that allows a vast new world to be opened. A world that empowers me, that aids in my academic success, and makes networking easy. With the new technological skills I acquired, I also gained a host of new responsibilities.
I gained personal power from technology. Because technology is ever-changing and always new, one must gain the courage to explore novel experiences. My family bought our first computer when I was five years old. It was a curious, expensive, delicate instrument. I heard that if I do something wrong, the computer might crash! My sister decided to take advantage of my misconception. She would turn on the computer for me if I did small favors for her. Keeping me dependent on her, my sister would have me close my eyes while she booted up the computer. One day, tired of being taken advantage of, I peeked. I now had the freedom to play Freddy the Fish without being indebted to my sister. And the computer did not crash if I pressed the wrong buttons.
In addition to giving myself the assurance that technology would not crumble in my hands, access to the internet gave me the confidence necessary to express my own, personal opinions. I learned that even though I was only a child, I could post on forums and chatrooms with the authority that did not come from age, but from literary adeptness. The anonymity of the internet gave me my first taste of communication with strangers. If I said something that I later regretted, I could click away, for I knew I wouldn’t be held responsible. Although this lack of consequences gave me a sense of relief, it could easily lead to internet ‘flame wars,’ where people type hateful comments to one another with no inhibitions. Because there are no consequences to what I post, I learned to hold myself responsible.
In addition to posting on forums, computers aided the writing in my academic experience. I found that I could whip up a report of any quality and receive a good grade if it was typed. My California state report was full of plagiarized, copy-and-pasted phrases and weak ideas, but was printed on crisp, clean paper. It was featured on the classroom wall, poorly –written but neatly printed. Technology was a way to produce more presentable work. This gave me the power to do better than my less technologically minded peers. Although I could do well by internet plagiarism or by other forms of cheating, it is my personal obligation to avoid temptation. Doing well in school by ethical means is a way I take responsibility for my actions.
Though having a computer contributed to my academic success, access to the internet is not enough; one must know how to use it effectively. In grade school, I was assigned Louis B. Meyer as my research project. This person was so arcane, when I typed his name into a search engine, no useful links popped up. I didn’t know how to effectively navigate through the data or what keywords I should have searched. Although one could have access to internet, the tools to find what is needed are essential to be considered technological literacy.
My mom had access to our computer, but she had no idea how to use it. She wanted me to make her a Facebook so she could play games and look through the photos of me and my friends. Appalled at the thought, I refused. Because my mother is technologically illiterate, she cannot create a Facebook without my instruction. Without a social networking site to stalk me on, her social power is limited- no commenting on my ugly photos for her!
Unlike my mom, I have the social power created by my ability to contact others through the internet. With the advent of social networking sites, I could remain in contact with my friends effortlessly. It is a now a necessity to have a profile on a social networking site. If friends do not have a Facebook account, I would likely not invite them to an event, for it is much too inconvenient to contact them by any other means. With my smartphone, I have access to everyone no matter how far I am from a computer. Also, I have the power to connect with those I’ve never seen face-to-face. Taking social networking to a new significance, LinkedIn, a professional networking site, allows me to quickly search through people who can benefit my career. Because it is so easy for me to connect with others, I am expected to keep in contact with my friends and peers.
My ability to use technology effectively has given me new responsibilities. When attending college while living at home, I was the only household member who knew how to use the computer. When my Dad became ill, I had to search Amazon for the cheapest wheelchair, schedule his appointments on Stanford’s medical website, and update his medication list on Microsoft Word. I had once changed his Aspirin dosage from 80g to 385g. I had the confidence in myself to know that the world would not explode because of this mistake. While performing these chores, I was still able to keep my academic career on track by taking online classes. Though I was busy, I kept in contact with friends by social networking sites. All this would have been much more difficult if I didn’t have the personal, academic, and social power afforded to me by technology.
My technological prowess has allowed me to do many things that others who are illiterate can’t. Because of this, others are dependent on me to do the right thing, for I could use my technology-based powers for good or evil. Like Clark Kent knows, with great power comes great responsibility.