Would our ancestors understand technology?

3 Mins read

We live in a time where technology is what separates us from animals. We can communicate with one another before we even leave the house, and know what’s going on halfway across the world during any given day. Our ancestors would absolutely be able to use this technology because it’s all around us and became commonplace for them during their lives. Is it worth anything to we millennials who were born after we could already use these devices without limits? Yes and no: yes in that our ancestors would be so taken because of how much easier life was for them, and no in that they would be so awed by what they’re not used to seeing transmitted through things like mobile phones or TV feeds–and the idea of “smart” homes. How would our ancestors understand technology?

If you were to try and show your great grandparent that the Internet existed, they would likely just look at you with a confused look and say “I’ve never seen a computer in my life.” This is because computers in our world are machines which couldn’t exist without mankind’s help. The idea of mankind being able to transmit massive amounts of information in a few seconds is astonishing to them–though they probably would have been amazed at everything else we’ve done in the past.

If I had my great-grandmother’s attention span when it comes to technology, I would tell her that this idea of smart TVs is not new anymore. When she was younger, she would have probably watched the world pass by her living room. Now, she can see what’s happening in the news at which time with just a click of a button. If she wanted to watch what is happening in Israel, she can accomplish that with just a few taps.

But…would ancestors undertand technology?

Not only would our ancestors not understand what’s going on, but they would also be shocked by how much information they’d receive in one sitting. Instead of getting tired by reading one book at a time, they could read multiple novels at the same time because each page was loading simultaneously. If I were born back then, I would definitely be fascinated with the idea of technology–especially now that it’s so mainstream that my grandparents are now using cell phones to call me.

When I went back to visit my grandparents, I was able to download the app WhatsApp onto their phone. When I would contact them, they’d ring me right back without having to lift a finger to dial the number–that’s how easy it is. It took about 5 minutes for them to figure out how simple it was, and they were really amazed at how technology could do so much for them so easily. Though they would be astonished by the idea of instant messaging, they would probably use this instant messaging system in a very different way than we do today.

If I were to take a screenshot of a block of instant messages which I sent, it would seem very strange to them. “I texted you a photo of a cat because I feel like cuddling with something soft,” doesn’t really make sense because they wouldn’t know why the picture was sent in the first place. This is because we’re used to sending pictures to one another depending on what we’re doing at the time, and they’d wonder why we’re sending them photos when they can take photos for themselves–so that idea doesn’t make much sense.

Overall, our ancestors would be able to understand and run technology today. They would probably be able to figure out how their smart TV works within minutes. When they would interact with the technology, they’d be amazed by how it works. On the other hand, if we were to hold a conversation with our great grandparents about the Internet, they would probably say “what’s that?” and it wouldn’t make sense.


Even though we can use technology without limits right now, I doubt we would be able to do so back in the days when it still might not even exist–in fact, we can use it with limits because we’re not born yet when this generation became used to modernized technology. With the world we live in today, we can be really lazy and take for granted everything we have. “Why buy a smartphone when we’ve got this other one we can use,” is what I would be saying right now and probably still think like this.

Though our ancestors wouldn’t know how to use technology like we do today, they would have no trouble understanding it when it was available for them to use–this is because they were simply more used to it. For example, my great grandparents would have no trouble finding my family on Facebook because they’ve heard the stories about me being alive all their lives.

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