How has technology affected the types of relationships that people make?

~ excerpted from an essay by Chang Si Yuan (Raffles Institution, Secondary 4 2015)

Is quantity necessarily less important than quality? Though technology is often accused of making relationships less intimate, it is false to claim that the intimacy of interpersonal relationships is the only thing that matters. Technology has revolutionised how people communicate and create relationships, especially due to the rise of social media, the internet and the dawn of the smartphone. Even if technology has made one’s intimate relationships less personal, it has also equipped individuals to reach many more people than ever before, changing the way people communicate and relate to one another, businesses and their community, where quantity trumps quality, and a lack of the latter is not necessarily a bad thing.

Personal relationships have been affected by developments in technology in the form of shallower communication. Text-based communication, which lacks the emotional depth of face-to-face interaction, is now widespread due to the accessibility of smartphones. Families which end up sending text messages over the dinner table despite the ability to converse verbally are now a common sight. Though the quality of relationships has suffered, the reach and ability to create personal relationships has expanded greatly. Online dating platforms have experienced a revival in popularity in recent times, with applications such as Finder accumulating a massive user base barely months after release. Together with its population of “successful” pairings between individuals, it seems that an increase in reach of communication– which arises from technology– has indeed benefited people in making new relationships.

Technology has also changed the way people interact with businesses and the economy, giving companies more productive workers and even more active patrons. Especially due to developments in the smartphone technology, people are now more connected than they have ever been. Employees can be mobilised to work by the delivery of one text message, due to the omnipresence of a mobile phone signal, not to mention the fact that the internet allows workers to collaborate with others despite geographical boundaries. A lack of depth in relationships has its benefits, such as how the lack of emotion in a text-based message can lead to heightened productivity, without employees being preoccupied with personal sentiments and unclear communication which arise from verbal communication. Even the relationship between corporations and its customers has changed, with companies being able to reach wider audiences via internet advertising, and customers being able to send feedback to economic entities and allowing them to make improvements on products and services– such as how an online petition from students persuaded a Mexican restaurant to serve free water. As such, new relationships shaped by technology with a lack of quality in communication and a wider reach can benefit businesses and the people around them.

Tutor's Comments:

The introduction raises a refreshing stance on the impact of technology on relationships today. Clear thesis statement too.

The first body paragraph raises a popular counterargument on how technology impacts the depth of relationships.

The second paragraph takes on the issue of relationships in commerce.

Linguistically, the essay is written incisively and with clarity.