Growing up in an age where technology always has advanced rapidly, I've often found myself wondering what life would be like if a certain advancement was ever made.

There are plenty of changes that have been positive, but not necessarily impactful. For instance, I can remember dreaming as a child about something — a device, a radio station, etc. — that played only music I like. As an adult, I was introduced to Pandora, which learns what you like and introduces you to music you might like.

One by one, these achievements have made us feel more connected to the world around us and enriched our lives.

The advent of cell phones — a phrase which now somehow seems antiquated given all that they do — has obviously been a big part of everybody increasing their digital footprint.

My wife and I often marvel at all the "things" in our life cell phones have replaced. We have an alarm clock in our house, but I can't remember the last time I used it. My phone serves as a portable radio, gaming system and guidance system, too. No longer do I need six "D" batteries and a boombox or have to carry around a Nintendo Game Boy with another bag full of games or even an atlas.

The potentially world-changing aspect of cell phones, though, is the advent of reliable, good cameras that take both pictures and video. Just take a roll through your Facebook feed and you'll find hundreds of pictures taken by your friends and acquaintances with their phones. The camera on my phone is, by far, the best camera I've ever owned. The technology is really quite staggering.

It's also easy to use and always available, which leads to a larger, societal issue. A chance for this technology to really make an impact on our lives.

Lately we've been bombarded with internet videos of people doing awful things. Phones have been used to record police brutality, crimes and other heinous acts.

Going to back to the technological thoughts I'd have as a kid, I also often thought it would be neat if we had the ability to see what happened, to get down to the meat of what occurred in any given incident. Relying on eyewitness testimony and other evidence is all we've had for so long, but now, with everybody toting around a video camera, often we're able to see what actually happened.

In these cases, there is no "my word against theirs." When there's video, we don't have to take people at their word.

For the first time in recorded history, there's an increasing sense of accountability.

Maybe this is pie-in-the-sky stuff — I grant that could be true — but I think it's possible that the rash of awfulness we've seen in our Facebook, Twitter or Instagram feeds could ultimately have a positive impact on society.

What if the fear of someone's awful actions being recorded actually makes them think twice? What if that fear causes them to treat people better?

For all the negative side effects and social media — there are plenty — wouldn't it be nice if all this stuff we carry around with us could actually have a meaningful impact on the world?

Contact Managing Editor Adam Parkhouse at aparkhouse@thenewsdispatch.com or 1-219-214-4170.

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