We are closing in on the end of this decade. 

When we look back on 2009 versus 2019 one of the biggest differences in how we live our lives is just how much technology has become ingrained in every aspect of it.

Here are five tech trends that transformed our lives over the past decade:

  1. The explosion of smartphones
  • In 2010, just 63 million Americans used smartphones compared to 266 million Americans in 2019 — a 322 percent increase. 

The explosion of smartphones has truly been transformative because it means that the demand for information and content has risen sharply. No longer do you have to wait to get to your office to read emails or wait to get home to watch funny videos. We do all of these on the go and at anytime. That has fueled social media platforms, blogs, and content-creating websites to fill that demand.

  1. Social media moving mainstream.
    Pew asked Americans about social media use. 
    • At the end of 2009, 42 percent of U.S. adults said they use at least one social media website and that expanded to 72 percent early this year. 
    • In the summer of 2006, just 11 percent of adults used social media. 
    • Today, eight out of ten Americans have a social media profile compared to just two out of ten in 2009.

These statistics demonstrate just how quickly social media has grown to become nearly ubiquitous. From Facebook’s debut my senior year of college in 2004 to today, there are so many types of social media websites that connect us based on location, common interests, love interests, shopping, careers, and more.

  1. Content is king. 
    Because of the growth of social media and access to the internet on our smartphones, we have a voracious appetite for written and visual content. Cat memes, celebrity gifs, DIY videos, political blogs, and inspirational posts are just a taste of what we consume daily. There’s no end to the amount of new content generated daily. Anyone from kindergarteners to our most senior citizens can be content generators. The market has created avenues for individuals to earn money for their content.
  2. Tech platforms creating paid gigs
    • One in four Americans has earned money through an online platform.
    • 18 percent have earned money selling something online from second-hand items to new consumer goods.
    • 8 percent have earned money through a job or task such as delivering food or giving rides on Uber and Lyft. 1 percent have rented out their properties on a home-sharing website. 

The gig economy is a thing and Americans are earning incomes through it. Freelance work is not new, but platforms and websites to connect consumers to goods and service providers have been an extraordinary story this decade. Driving for Uber, design services through Thumbtack, or renting your home on Airbnb are all ways that people can earn a living or make additional income on their own schedule. Flexibility is one of the top benefits of the gig economy along with income. Gig workers are not employees, but independent contractors and they like it that way.

  1. Spreading ideas far and wide (outside of traditional media).

Social media, not traditional media, became the vehicle for transmitting ideas and information. You don’t have to be a celebrity to get national attention for your ideas — good or bad. The ability to transmit messages, find those who you agree with, debate ideas, organize others for action, organize boycotts, and push for policy changes are all things that Americans do daily. #MeToo, the Hong Protests, the Ice Bucket Challenge, and eating spoonfuls of cinnamon became viral movements and challenges. Some had good motivations, others were dangerous. Interestingly, the media did not lead in bringing these ideas or activities to the masses, their popularity among the masses eventually earned media attention.