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Mobility in the Twenty-First Century

People live a fast-paced life even before the turn of the century. The competition for wants and necessities compels people to plan ahead and value the available time they have. Advances in technology had allowed people to perform real-time tasks simultaneously like checking mails while on the go or checking or creating documents while outdoors, making it possible to enjoy little pleasures in life while not missing significant real-world affairs.

It is in this light that mobile has the advantage of providing people a little time for themselves while still being able to meet the challenges of social affairs and competition. Mobility Explained Mobility, in its simplest definition, is the state of being in motion. The term, however, is not limited to the physical movement of people or objects from one place to another. It may also encompass communication and entertainment or it may also refer to the movement of peoples’ jobs or the movement from one social class to another. Urry (n. d.

) had given four kinds of mobility or travel: (1) the physical movement of objects, where products, items or documents are brought to people whose ability to physically travel is somehow reduced; (2) imaginative travel, where people are transported to another location through the images of places and other people encountered on mass media such as the radio and the television; (3) virtual travel, where the world wide web is employed to meet and communicate with people far and away; and (4) the physical, corporeal travel of people, where people physically go places.

The Need for Mobility and How Mobility in the 21st Century Have Transformed Peoples’ Lives Urry (n. d. ) held that “all forms of social life involve striking combinations of proximity and distance” and that “intersecting forms of physical, object, imaginative and virtual mobility… contingently and complexly link people in patterns of obligation, desire and commitment. ” Physical travel, for example, is “necessarily generated by work, household, family and leisure needs” (Urry, n. d. ). Since the dawn of their history, humans were always on the move, whether to hunt for food or to find a new suitable settlement.

Even when they have settled into a location, people often have to move in between towns and cities for trade and other reasons. They have employed the use of animals as a mode of transportation, easing their burdens and making travelling faster. With the invention of automobiles, travelling has become even faster and more convenient. Modern transportation has also made it possible for the delivery of products such as food and supplies to become easier and faster. The physical movement of objects makes it possible for businesses or other personal necessities to become more efficient and less time-consuming.

Delivery services, for example, allow an individual to focus on other important tasks, or even just to relax, while waiting for the delivery to arrive. Other technological advances have also made it possible for people to enjoy little pleasures in life like communicating with far-away friends and families, or to learn a little more about other parts of the world. However, the first of these little pleasures, and perhaps the most famous, is the accessibility of music even while on the move. Nowadays, people can even use their favourite music or tones to personalize the ring of their mobile phones.

Furthermore, advances in technology have made it possible for mobile devices to become smaller and more portable while not decreasing, in fact some had even increased, the capacities that these mobile device could carry or perform. Problems Concerning Mobility Despite the many advantages of technological advances in aid of increasing mobility, there are malfunctions in network systems which fail to render into use the full advantages of these technologies. In fact, these failures in network systems had turned the advantages into some disadvantage concerning mobility.

The increasing number of people who uses automobiles coupled with the failure of public road system, for example, had reversed the promise of speed and convenience of automobiles. Hagman (2006) reported that parking facilities is also a major concern for those who have access to cars. He stated that most people will leave their cars at home when they “find it difficult to park when they reach their destination” (Hagman, 2006). This failure could have been avoided through proper “‘predict and provide’ model of transportation forecasting and planning” (Urry, n. d.

). Another problem concerning mobility is the withdrawal of public authorities as the primary providers of public transport (Grieco and Raje, 2004). Commercialization has brought public transportations in the United Kingdom and other countries into the domain of private organizations which, more often than not, take advantage of the peoples’ need to travel to gain profit. Fares have become steadily increasing and public transport often comes with poor service. This may cause serious implications to mobility, especially for the marginalized and low-income citizens.

Global networks of food production and consumption may also render people and cities to be less mobile. Consumption of fatty foods may lead people to become fat to the point of being obese, making it more difficult for them to move due to their size, aside of course from having some serious health risks. Moreover, the problem of obesity does not concern only the individual but “are seen to have repercussions beyond individual bodies” as it may affect the rising costs of health care and have indirect impact on the economy (Marvin and Medd, 2004).

Marvin and Medd (2004) reported that the lack of sidewalks and bike-trails, along with the distance of stores and shops to residential areas, are among the reasons why people had less chance of staying fit. Sprawling cities have therefore greater risks for developing fat-related health problems as the fatness of the body “develops as a result of the automobile dependent, privatised spaces of the fat city” (Marvin and Medd, 2004, 9).

This is because people who live in compact neighbourhoods where shops and stores are nearby and where there is sufficient sidewalks tend to walk, therefore burning more of the consumed fat compared to people who live in sprawling cities who have to use automobiles to go places. Here, we see the trade-off between having to use automobiles which increase mobility in some aspects and not using it. However, one must also consider that having sufficient sidewalks and bike-trails are part of the network systems that render mobility. Conclusion Technological advances had greatly improved the mobility of people in the 21st century.

It has allowed them to meet the demands of living in a fast-paced environment that are in turn, a product of social and economic competition. Mobility has also allowed people to enjoy pleasures in life, without which are difficult to achieve when faced with the priority of improving livelihood, especially for those who are middle-class citizens, and even worse for those in the lower classes. However, failures in networks systems pose some problems concerning mobility, from which people are rendered unproductive which defeats the purpose of being mobile.

As an example, traffic jams which are caused by the increasing amount of people who uses automobiles in the hope of increasing their own mobility and the use of unreliable traffic system have increased the time of spending on the road, which is not ideal if one is to improve economically. These shortcomings in network systems have failed to make full use of the advantages of technological advances which promised an increased mobility for the people. Nevertheless, technological advances that are capable of increasing mobility have continued to change peoples’ lives in the 21st century.

Furthermore, there are many different forms and levels of mobility that one can choose from and take advantage of depending on the individual’s needs. References Brabazon, T. , Cull, F. , Kent, M. , and McRae, L. (2005). Jingling the single: The i-podification of the music industry. AQ May-June 2005, 26-36. Grieco, M. and Raje, F. (2004). Stranded mobility and the marginalization of low income communities: an analysis of public service failures in the British public transport sector. Conference on the Urban Vulnerability and Network Failure.

University of Salford. Hagman, O. (2006). Morning queues and parking problems. On the broken promises of the automobile. Mobilities Vol 1, No. 1, 63-74. Marvin, S. and Medd, W. (2004). Metabolisms of obesity: Fat across bodies, cities and sewers. ” Urban Vulnerability and Network Failure: Constructions and Experiences of Emergencies, Crises and Collapse. Urry, J. (n. d. ). Mobility and proximity. Retrieved January 10, 2008, from http://www. ville-en-movement. com/interventions/John_Urry. pdf

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