Better transportation methods helped farmers reach a global market, but they also helped increase the cost of food, and helped more farmers give up agriculture as their employment, too. Technology helped farms become more efficient, but it also helped develop large, factory farms that ran small, independent farmers out of business because they could not compete financially.
Many other innovations that we take for granted today also changed the face of life in the twentieth century. One of those is plastic. “Time” Magazine editors note, “In 1908, Belgian inventor Leo Baekeland created Bakelite, the first plastic, by combining phenols and formaldehyde; it was used originally as an alternative to ivory billiard balls” (Editors). Plastic does not seem to be a vital invention, and yet, everywhere we look today there are plastics, from our computer keyboards and components, to Zip-lock storage bags, water bottles, and automobile interiors. Plastics are everywhere, and they are another innovation that really changed the way we live. They are disposable, and yet, they do not break down for thousands of years (if ever), so they clog landfills and create mountains of trash that is difficult to deal with. Trash is another innovation that has mushroomed in the twentieth century, and has really altered life, too. One hundred years ago, most trash was organic or biodegradable, and when it got to be a problem, city dumps were routinely burned. Now, there is so much trash that it has become a global problem and disposing of much of it has become dangerous, because so many toxins exist in items like computers and other technological advances. We have created a world of innovation and technology, but we have created a massive problem with waste, that so far technology has not been able to solve.
Technology has really crept into every corner of life, from television to motion pictures and all forms of entertainment. Some of these technologies actually began before the turn of the twentieth century, but really came into their own after 1900. Television is a fact of life today, and most people would not think of not owning at least one television.
At the turn of the century, people had to leave their homes to see live performances of plays, music, vaudeville, and motion pictures, but today, people never have to leave their homes to rent movies on pay-per-view, watch live sporting events, and see televised shows of every type, including concerts and live sitcoms. Entertainment is very different than it was at the turn of the century, and that is due to technological advances in every area of entertainment.
In conclusion, technological advances have changed the very face of life in just about every way, from the clothing people wear to the way they travel, work, live, and play. Homes, cars, jobs, and entertainment are all far different than they were 100 years ago, and they continue to influence the way the world lives. Clearly, technology will continue to change lives in the future, in ways that people today cannot imagine. Today, we think nothing of using computers, watching films on widescreen, HDTVs, and traveling around the globe in the largest airplanes ever invented. We can start the day in New York, and end it in China, Australia, or Bora with ease, and we can communicate with our offices, families, and friends while we do it. We have made amazing technological advances in just about every area of life, and it has changed the way people live, work, and play, and it will continue to change in the future.
Best, Antony, Jussi M. Hanhim ki, Joseph a. Maiolo, and Kirsten E. Schulze. International History of the Twentieth Century. London: Routledge, 2004.
Editors. “20th Century Technology.” Time.com. 2008. 2 Sept. 2008. http://www.time.com/time/time100/builder/tech_supp/tech_supp.html
Keitz, Maribeth. “Greatest Engineering Achievements of the 20th Century.” GreatAchievements.org. 2008. 2 Sept. 2008. http://www.greatachievements.org/
Walker, Melisa. “Problems of Plenty: The American Farmer in the Twentieth Century.” Journal.