technology and society

Technology is an important aspect of the human condition (MacKenzie & Wajcman, 1998) and it cannot exist without society. With ever-changing lifestyles, we put ourselves not only in the position of consumers but also co-shape technologies and innovations. They can make our everyday practices more convenient or more complex but can also bring us closer to the technologies that were a part of our lives in the past. Nevertheless, the consumption of content has significantly increased. Digital media is now heavily embedded into our lifestyles whether with a reason of convenience, complexity, or some other practices which are represented through the sub-themes below.

Technology should work for us, but what happens when it does not? Comedian Chuck Nice explores the unintended consequences of technological advancement and human interaction – with hilarious results. (Source: TED, 2018). 

lifestyle changes

Technology has considerably co-shaped the ways we lead our lives. It has contributed to the transformation of communication, organization of our daily lives, education, and entertainment.

digital media

The most important digital media developments of the 21st century help us to reflect upon the transformation of content consumption and production.


After many technological advancements in the 21st century, we have entered into a nostalgic mentality and reached for technologies that give us a sense of the past.

lifestyle changes

Since the beginning of the new millennium, we have been co-shaping technological advancements that are continuously entering our lives. From technological devices being designed to serve people and make their lives easier, we have now reached a point in which technology is becoming increasingly more personal, portable, and entangled in most aspects of our lives (Swierstra, 2015). Through our smartphones, we are able to build and keep connections with people all around the world, at any given moment. These small devices have turned from simple means of communication into miniature computers that can help us organize our whole lives and function as personal assistants. Thinking about how our parents or grandparents met, it is most likely an experience of people meeting in real life. In 2020, a staggering 12% of marriages in the United States started online (Vogels, 2020). This palm-sized gadget is able to help connect people that would otherwise have not met. But, we have also technologized our ways of going about daily business.

Swipe on images below to see how advancing technologies have co-shaped our lifestyles in the 21st Century:

Traditional dashboards and fuel-driven cars get replaced by intelligent driving systems and electronic cars.

No more crowds and wasting time. Online stores help you shop from the comfort of your home.

We are now able to shop faster and more efficiently without even needing to go to a physical store anymore. With online shopping websites like Amazon, our purchases can reach our doorstep in a matter of hours. In 2017, they shipped over 5 billion items worldwide ranging from electronics and clothes to food and various other items (Carman, 2018). Technology has made it possible for humans to not need to interact physically with others anymore in order to live their lives comfortably. This evolution will be especially relevant in the future as it shapes how we teach following generations to interact with each other. The objects showcased below represent their contribution to the lifestyle changes in 21st century.

Smartphones have fundamentally reshaped the way we live and interact with each other. It is an item that connects us as much as it distances us from one another.


In the last 100 years cars in industrialized countries have evolved from a rare luxury item to a climate problem for many. Scientists have been working on making them smarter, more sustainable, and more accessible to more individuals.


Nowadays there are digital gadgets that can cover almost every aspect of one’s daily activities. Charging them only once a day is often not enough. Thus, making portable chargers “Powerbanks” an essential item.


63% of shopping occasions in 2018 began online (Mohsin, 2021). Online market places like Amazon offer a wide range of products and fast delivery making them an integral part of today’s society.


digital media

Virtual Reality is one of the hottest technology concepts in recent years. (Source: Arnold, 2021).

By all accounts, digital media has transformed living conditions in the 21st Century in ways that have been unpredictable and are now irreversible.

Adams, 2018, p. 290

In the 21st century, digital media have had an increasing role in our daily lives. Our consumption of media has changed, focusing on the fast pace. In the past 2 years, the consumption of content has doubled, averaging at 6-7 hours of content consumption a day (Koetsier, 2020). Needless to say, this century has been dominated by digital media. New media have been developed, such as virtual reality, increasing our choices of content consumption and making media more immersive than ever before. Our communication has largely taken place online, changing our social dynamics with other human beings. Within the century, the analogue has been increasingly transformed into the digital, making it more accessible but also altering our relationship with physical objects. News can be accessed any time of the day, increasing our connection with the outside world and events happening offline. We are not only consuming content but have progressively become content producers ourselves. Additionally, new forms of content have arisen within the century, focusing on multimodality. All these developments have made our lives very different. Within this subtheme, we reflect upon these transformations of media. Different objects are displayed, showing some of the most important digital developments within the 21st century. It showcases how much these digital advancements have contributed to many changes, making aspects of our lives more efficient but also far more complex. Reflecting upon the last century through these objects helps us realize how far we have come when it comes to technological advancements, but also helps us to take a step back and critically assess the impactful contribution of these technologies on our lives.

Virtual reality is one of the 21st Century’s most influential technologies. It has not only resulted in major developments in the science and medical field but also transformed the way we consume content.


E-readers have contributed to changes in our consumption of literature, mimicking the experience of reading a book in an electronic format (Stone, 2008, p. 2).



During the last century, there has been an emphasis on not only content consumption, but also content creation. Equipment such as the microphone plays a big role in this, allowing users to produce content at home.




Which of these 20 tech inventions from the past evoke nostalgia in you? (Source: Fact Verse, 2020). 

After many modern and smart technological advancements in the 21st century, we have started to enter into a nostalgic mentality and reach out for the ones that symbolize the greatness of the past. Looking at the technology sector, the resurgence of objects from the old days, such as Polaroid camera, MP3, and arcade games, undoubtedly demonstrate a strong “Technostalgia” feature (van der Heijden, 2015). Literally, the term refers to the desire for obsolete technological products in the same way that people love vintage clothes, watches, and wallets. Vintage is a symbol of ‘fashion’ in the 21st century and has remained so for a long time (Cassidy & Bennett, 2012). But, technostalgia is also more than that. Using modern technology to enhance old machines, but retaining their appearance and some of their functions is a sign “analogue renaissance”. For example, the mechanical keyboard with its retro typewriter shape and high-tech switch, or the new Super 8 camera from Kodak, which was released in 2016 and combines digital functions with film effects (van der Heijden, 2018). Today’s digital technology is no longer just about progress, it is also about trying to “go backward”. The latest technologies are used to recreate and imitate objects from the past as a way to remember the good times they brought us (Campopiano, 2013). In short, in the time capsule of the 21st century, it is hard to ignore the frenzy of the quest for old-time technology.

After smartphones came with music software, the iPod quickly became obsolete and was officially discontinued by Apple. However, many people miss the simplicity of the iPod and see it as a great souvenir of the Steve Jobs era, making it a $20,000 luxury item (Woolf, 2016).



Mechanical keyboards use 21st Century technology to overcome the shortcomings of old typewriter keyboards that are slow to respond and prone to jamming while retaining their retro look and mechanical shaft construction, which is an important expression of technostalgia.


Flash drives take us back to the beginning of 21st century when we relied on physical connection with data whereas now we mostly use cloud storage.


Try this fun crossword puzzle, which includes all the tech products mentioned above. Whoever guesses 80% or more correctly must be a techie!



Adams, K.P. (2018). Assets, platforms and affordances: The constitutive role of media in the museum. Routledge Handbook of Museums, Media and Communication, p. 290-305.

Arnold, N. (2021). Girl with VR Glass [Photograph].

Campopiano, J. (2013). Considering our Technostalgia. Open Vault WHBG. Available online:

Carman, A. (2018, January 2). Amazon shipped over 5 billion items worldwide through Prime in 2017. The Verge.

Cassidy, T. D., & Bennett, H. R. (2012). The rise of vintage fashion and the vintage consumer. Fashion practice, 4(2), 239-261.

Fact Verse. (2020, March 9). 20 Tech Inventions That Will Make You Nostalgic [Video]. YouTube. 

Koetsier, J. (2020, September 26). Global Online Content Consumption Doubled in 2020. Forbes. 

MacKenzie, D., & Wajcman, J. (1998). The Social Shaping of Technology. Buckingham, UK: Open University Press.

Mediamodifier. (2017). New shopping style [Photograph].

Mike. (2012). Black Mercedes Benz Car Interior [Photograph].

Mohsin, M. (2021, December 3). 10 Online Shopping Statistics You Need to Know in 2021 [Infographic].  Oberlo.,they’re%20doing%20their%20research

Pyatakov, S. (2007). Old shopping style [Photograph].

Stone, N. (2008). The e-reader industry: Replacing the book or enhancing the reader experience? Design of Electronic Text, 1(1), 1–5.    

Swierstra, T. (2015). Identifying the normative challenges posed by technology’s ‘soft’ impacts. Etikk i praksis – Nordic Journal of Applied Ethics, 9(1). 

TED. (2017, February 27). A funny look at the unintended consequences of technology | Chuck Nice [Video]. YouTube. 

van der Heijden, T. (2018). ‘Analogue Renaissance’: Strategies of Technostalgia with Kodak’s new Super 8 film camera.

van der Heijden, T. (2015). Technostalgia of the Present: From technologies of memory to a memory of technologies. NECSUS European Journal for Media Studies, 4(2): 103-121. 

van Oost, B. (2019). Dashboard of a Tesla car [Photograph].

Vogels, E. A. (2020, June 4). 10 facts about Americans and online dating. Pew Research Center. 

Woolf, N. (2016). The $20,000 iPod: vintage Apple products net the big bucks on eBay. The Guardian.