I hope all is well with you back at home. The purpose of this letter is not merely for casual written correspondence, but I feel that it is important that I inform you of the influence of a certain historically significant event has had on our contemporary society. In our day where we take technology for granted, mass production is a norm, and reasonable working conditions abide, I find it necessary to give historical precedent for these issues, all of which are rooted in the Industrial Revolution.
As you may know from your high school European and U.S. History courses, the Industrial Revolution was a 19th century phenomenon that gave rise to new technologies such as the steam engine, the cotton gin, the automobile, and several others. I have included a link to a timeline that I came across in my own study to illustrate the many different innovations that occurred during this time period. Bright minds combined with new advances in scientific discovery, which allowed for this surge of machinery to be integrated into 19th century society. When I learned about this time period during high school, I failed to see it in the grand scheme of things. I remembered names like Eli Whitney and Adam Smith and even certain inventions, but I did not comprehend the impact that this revolution had that pervades through our own day.
In my own personal study of the Industrial Revolution, I realized that this gave way to the rise of consumerism in our modern society. I myself have gotten caught in the trap of wanting to buy the next new thing, like the iPhone or X-Box game. I think this made me want to study the roots of the issue even more. I found that the ability to mass produce goods with machines and lower the cost of labor allowed individuals to have their own things like we do now. Also, because people were looking for more efficient ways to do things, this gave rise to the invention of computers and the advent of the Internet as a means of distributing information.
I also realized that, though we have made great progress in our society, some of the negative elements of the Industrial Revolution still exist today. In this article, Marton Jojarth critiques businesses that still provide unsafe working environments and require unnecessarily long shifts from their workers. Overall, however, we have made great strides as a nation to insure that the individual is treated with fairness.
It is my hope that as you learn more about the Industrial Revolution, you will recognize the contributions of intellectuals during that time period that make our digital society possible today. When you’re using your personal computer, work your part-time shift, or buy the latest trendy article of clothing, remember that all of these aspects of your life have been influenced by the innovations of the 19th century and the lessons learned as a result of industrialization.