by Olivia Bretzman ’22
As we near the end of 2021, we must reflect on the intensity of the year. Our worlds have turned upside down and inside out the past two years. More than ever, we have become reliable on technology to inform, relate, and ultimately survive.
Our culture has transformed into one of extreme accessibility, and, as a result, of course, there is extreme disparity. While accessibility typically holds positive connotations, our generation has become numb to the privilege and the negative impacts created by accessibility culture.
The term accessibility is defined by the Oxford Dictionary as “the quality of being able to be reached or entered” and “of being easily understood or appreciated.” Of course, technology has revolutionized this term as almost everything has become easily obtained, from groceries to relationships.
Allyson Giso ’22 explains, “Everything from food to clothing to people has become accessible. There is a market for people now.”
One can order groceries or a new outfit from their phone just as easily as they can open a dating app and find a date or hookup for that same night. One can FaceTime with their grandparents who live three states away or their brother who lives in another country, which is a beautiful thing; however, in terms of work, school, and social lives, everyone has become 100% attainable 100% of the time.
It is no wonder why relationships are more complicated than ever, and that people are drained all the time. Not only does communication become difficult without face-to-face interaction, but people are constantly assuming that everyone has their means of communication open at all times and get upset when one does not respond right away. Giso explains, “Relationships have been better but more complicated because it opens up more doors for communication, but everything can be taken out of context.”
This accessibility also takes away from the actual privacy and beauty of any relationship. We tend to take our relationships for granted when, in all reality, a text message hardly equates to anything real.
Aside from relationships, there is a general accessibility of commercial commodities and basic necessities such as food delivery services and online shopping. This particular version of accessibility makes people impatient for things that should and do, in reality, take time. Giso comments on this phenomenon, stating, “It’s like a shopper’s high…you need it now and then it’s a letdown.”
Our constant mindset is that everything can be handed over and easily used. Inevitably, many can be affected negatively by this without even realizing. It creates a mentality of irritability, impatience, and self-centeredness especially when things do not go as fast as one believes they should.
On the other hand, the greatest disparities within our society are highlighted through these services. One could order two hundred dollars’ worth of alcohol to their house via DRIZLY for a Christmas party while a person down the street relies on SNAP benefits to survive.
Aside from necessities and relationships, art and human culture have become incredibly accessible, which, again, can be useful and beautiful, but when misused, is a huge issue. Instead of going to a museum to view a work of art, one can literally download it onto their phone or order a print on Etsy.
This can be applied to anything including literature, movies, and music. It is constantly misused. Artists, who are typically recognized, can also be taken advantage of, which depreciates such a huge part of life—art and travel.
Providence College is blessed with accessibility. And again, for the most part, this is an incredibly beautiful and overwhelmingly helpful reality for students and professors. We have access to books, people, and concepts that are truly fulfilling and helpful for education.
However, as we continue to gain accessibility in general life, PC’s campus needs to be mindful of the ways in which we use our technology for good. Instead of ignoring the disparities and negative impacts of accessibility, we must be aware of how accessibility affects every aspect of our culture.