At a time when Americans can flick a keyboard or swipe a touchscreen to connect with products, people, and information from anywhere in the world, are they in danger of disconnecting from their own communities? With the world at our fingertips, are we losing sight of the places outside of our windows?
The latest Allstate/National Journal Heartland Monitor Poll makes clear those questions are engaging—and concerning—many Americans as they live through a revolution in communications and computer technology so powerful it has justifiably evoked comparisons to a natural upheaval, like a hurricane.
Most Americans see these cascading changes as a reason for optimism—a bright spot in a sky otherwise clouded with concern over the nation’s economy, government, and public- and private-sector leadership. Just over half of those polled in the new survey said the explosion of digital technologies and connectivity has done more to connect than to isolate Americans and will continue to improve their overall quality of life. They also said the changes have created more jobs than they have eliminated. Young people are especially optimistic.
But the survey also found a substantial minority of adults who remain concerned that our ever-increasing reliance on digital technologies is costing jobs, undermining local merchants, fraying communities, disrupting families, and unsettling too many aspects of American life. On many of these questions, concerns about the implications of these pervasive technological changes are greater among older Americans, particularly those with children.